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284. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Luke Dunne, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

The master of the mystic arts, Doctor Stephen Strange, is attending the wedding of his ex-girlfriend Christine Palmer when New York is attacked by a strange creature chasing a young refugee named America Chavez. Strange finds himself drawn into a chase across the vast and infinite multiverse, questioning the nature of the reality in which he has found himself.

At time of recording, it was not ranked on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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Doctor Who: Legend of the Sea Devils (Review)

“Sea Devil!”

“Land Parasite!”

Well, to be fair, Legend of the Sea Devils is at least a worthy sequel to Warriors of the Deep.

The Sea Devil you know.

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274. Modern Times (#40)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guest Dean Buckley, The 250 is a weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released Saturdays at 6pm GMT.

So this week, Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.

A factory worker suffers a psychotic breakdown on the assembly line, and loses his job. Upon recovery, he very quickly finds himself swept up in a series of misadventures that reflect the rapidly changing balance between human labour and industrialisation. Is there still room for the lovable tramp in a society so dramatically reinventing itself?

At time of recording, it was ranked 40th on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How Hollywood Learned the Wrong Lessons from “The Force Awakens”…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the recent releases of Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of SkywalkerGhostbusters: Afterlife and Spider-Man: No Way Home, it seemed like a good opportunity to reflect on the strange and distorted legacy of Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens.

The Force Awakens was a massively successful and popular film. It broke domestic box office records. It also provided a new model for revitalising existing franchises, bringing together members of the older generation with younger leads to hand the torch from one generation to the next. However, Hollywood took many of the wrong lessons from The Force Awakens, and came to prioritise the resurrection of older characters over the development of these younger generations.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On Squaring the Circle with Nostalgic Sequels Like “The Rise of Skywalker” and “Ghostbusters: Afterlife”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the larger trend of the modern nostalgia sequels, and the paradoxes at play within the genre.

By their very nature, belated sequels like Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens require the heroes to have left something unfinished or undone for years or even decades. Often, this involves forcing the heroes’ children to effectively grapple with the exact same problem that haunted their parents. There’s a recurring theme of generational failure running through these stories, a sense that the failure of these older heroes to wrap up their own stories exists at odds with the nostalgia that powers such stories.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Ghostbusters”, and How Irreverence Became a Source of Reverence…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Ghostbusters: Afterlife this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the original Ghostbusters.

The original Ghostbusters was a wry and cynical movie about three academics who find themselves forced to work in the public sector, and so start a business busting ghosts in a run-down and decaying New York City. The film was very self-aware and very glib, essentially built around the idea that three men who would be con artists in any other situation were able to come out on top in eighties America. However, in the years since, Ghostbusters has become an institution. What was once irreverent is now venerated, without any of the self-awareness that made the first film so compelling.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

252. Platoon (#222)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, with special guest Joe Griffin, The 250 is a (mostly) weekly trip through some of the best (and worst) movies ever made, as voted for by Internet Movie Database Users. New episodes are released every Saturday at 6pm GMT.

This time, Oliver Stone’s Platoon.

In late 1967, Chris Taylor volunteers for service in Vietnam. Arriving in country, Taylor quickly discovers that the war is not what he expected. As the platoon descends into civil war, Taylor finds himself torn between the two sergeants: the monstrous Barnes and the philosophical Elias. Taylor discovers that he might not just be fighting for his life, but for his very soul.

At time of recording, it was ranked 222nd on the list of the best movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On How “Candyman” is About Art About Trauma…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Nia DaCosta’s Candyman this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the film and the larger franchise.

Much has been written in recent years about the recent explosion of African American horror, and the relationship between that horror and the very real trauma experienced by that community. What’s particularly interesting about Candyman is that the movie is very much engaged with that debate. In an era where so many movies and television shows purport to be “about trauma”, Candyman is explicitly a movie about art about horror, and the thorny questions that stem from that relationship.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

Non-Review Review: Reminiscence

Reminiscence is an intriguing concept in desperate need of a stronger execution.

Reminiscence marks the feature film directorial debut of Lisa Joy, the co-creator of Westworld. In some ways, this is revealing. It often seems like the best version of Reminiscence might be a television pilot, a two-hour feature-length exploration of a futuristic dystopia that lays a lot of groundwork to be explored by later episodes and seasons. It’s very clear that Joy has put a lot of thought into the world of Reminiscence, about how it works and how it developed, and why it turned out the way it did. All of that work is either on-screen or blasted over the audio system via helpful voiceover exposition.

On the record.

Unfortunately, Reminiscence struggles to devote any real energy to its actual narrative or characters. Reminiscence is clearly constructed as an affectionate homage to classic film noir, in everything from its production design to its plot structure to its thematic concerns. However, it lacks the richness and the complexity that distinguishes the best of the genre. Instead, because so much time is spent explaining and re-explaining the mechanics of the world, everything else feels like a thinly-drawn sketch.

Reminiscence often feels like the faded memory of a much more engaging film.

Shining a light on it.

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New Escapist Column! On the “Avatar” as a PG-13 “Aliens”…

I published a new column at The Escapist this evening. With the re-release of Avatar in China this weekend, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look at Jameson Cameron’s blockbuster.

Avatar is often discussed in terms of its relationship to nineties films like Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas and even Fern Gully. However, Avatar is also notable in its similarities to James Cameron’s first proper blockbuster. Avatar often feels like a reworking of Aliens, albeit one aimed at a much broader audience. This is interesting, positioning Avatar as part of a wave of similarly four-quadrant-pleasing reboots and remakes of classic R-rated eighties properties.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.