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New Escapist Column! On “The Sandman” and the Art of Adaptation…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. It’s a big weekend for media releases, and one of those new releases was The Sandman from Netflix, an adaptation of the comic book series from Neil Gaiman.

The Sandman is a remarkably faithful adaptation of the source material, often lifting images and dialogue directly from the comic. However, it’s also an interesting illustration of the art of adaptation as it purtains to ten-episode seasons of streaming television shows. It’s interesting to see how the source material is tweaked and altered to make it fit that familiar template, and what the adaptational choices say about what the streaming service and the production studio want from the show.

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

New Escapist Video! “The Sandman is a Reminder of What Made the Comic So Beloved”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute television review of The Sandman, which is streaming on Netflix now.

New Escapist Column! On How the Third Season of “The Umbrella Academy” Captures the Pandemic Aesthetic…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of the third season of The Umbrella Academy last week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look back at the show.

The third season of The Umbrella Academy is not about the pandemic, but it stands as an interesting cultural marker of the moment. The show’s production has obviously been impacted by pandemic restrictions, with a lot of shoot on closed sets with a tight cast, and a recurring sense that the show’s world has become empty and withdrawn. While the third season of The Umbrella Academy is not explicitly about the pandemic, it is the rare genre show that manages to translate the experience of the pandemic into a more general mood or tone.

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

288. 365 Dni: Ten Dzień (365 Days: This Day) (-#47)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, and this week with special guests Grace Duffy and Billie Jean Doheny, 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, Barbara Bialowas and Tomasz Mandes’ 365 Dni: Ten Dzień.

Having survived the attempt on her life at the end of the previous film, Laura is to be wed to local mafia boss Massimo. However, the couple soon find their relationship tested, particularly with the arrival of a sexy gardener named Nacho. Laura flees Massimo into Nacho’s waiting hands, but quickly discovers that there is a far more sinister game at foot, and that not all of the players have revealed themselves.

At time of recording, it was ranked 47th on the list of the worst movies of all time on the Internet Movie Database.

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New Escapist Column! On What the Netflix Marvel Shows Bring to Disney+…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the arrival of the Netflix Marvel streaming shows on Disney+ last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take stock of where the service’s brand was at.

Disney has established a reputation as a family-friendly company, often outsourcing its more adult-oriented fare to distinct subsidiaries with their own identities. This is arguably less sustainable in the streaming age, as companies are consolidating and the key to a streaming service’s viability might lie in the variety of its content. So Disney+ finds itself at a crossroads, forced to chose between its long-term appeal to a diverse array of audiences and its parent company’s history of wholesome family entertainment. The arrival of the Netflix Marvel shows provide a challenge and an opportunity.

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

New Escapist Video! “The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf – Review”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie reviews on The Escapist. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf, which is releasing on Netflix tomorrow.

Non-Review Review: Fear Street Part Three – 1666

If Fear Street Part One – 1994 and Fear Street Part Two – 1978 didn’t make it clear enough, Fear Street Part Three – 1666 confirms that the trilogy is more of a miniseries than a set of films.

To be fair, this was quite clear from the outset. The films feature a large branching cast, with many actors carrying over from one installment to another. The continuity between the individual films is so tight that the two later installments each open with an extended “previously on…” segment. Fear Street Part Three – 1666 carries this idea to its logical conclusion, effectively functioning as a two-part season finale. It opens with an hour set in the past and then jumps forward for a forty-minute coda designed to close the book (if not literally) on the events from Fear Street Part One – 1994.

A sight for sore (or missing) eyes…

There’s not necessarily anything wrong with this. After all, there’s arguably not a huge difference between the structure of these three films and something like the Red Riding trilogy. More to the point, it demonstrates how porous the gap between various media has become. Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, the highest grossing movie of 2020, is really just a six-episode bridging arc between two seasons of the manga. Hamilton is both one of the best movies of all-time according to the Internet Movie Database and an Emmy nominee. Even the Marvel Cinematic Universe is arguably as much television as cinema.

As such, it’s hard to judge Fear Street Part Three – 1666 entirely on its own merits.

Tying it all up.

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New Escapist Column! On “Sweet Tooth” as a Fairy Tale About Fatherhood…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. Sweet Tooth premiered on Netflix last week, and it seemed like a good idea to take a look at the streaming series.

Sweet Tooth is a post-apocalyptic fairy tale, the story of a little boy who wanders off into the wilderness to have an adventure. However, it’s also a fairy tale that understands the purpose of such stories, how these fantastical narratives allow audiences to deal with complex fears and anxieties. However, what makes Sweet Tooth so interesting is that it reflects paternal anxieties as much as childish ones. It is a story about the fears of a parent watching their child try to navigate a chaotic and hostile world, knowing that there is only so much that they can do to keep them safe. It’s a beautiful, moving approach.

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

 

New Escapist Video! “Jupiter’s Legacy – Review in 3 Minutes”

I’m thrilled to be launching 3-Minute Reviews on Escapist Movies. Over the coming weeks and months, I will be joining a set of contributors in adding these reviews to the channel. For the moment, I’m honoured to contribute a three-minute film review of the new Jupiter’s Legacy series that is now available on Netflix.

New Escapist Column! On Young Adult Movies Operating Under Star Power…

I published a new column at The Escapist earlier in the week. With the release of Shadow and Bone on Netflix last week, it seemed a good opportunity to take a look at the state of the young adult in modern Hollywood. in particular, the ways in which the genre is dependent on an ineffable star quality.

The young adult boom really kicked off with the Harry Potter series. However, not all the adaptations that followed succeeded. Looking back over the various attempts to tap into that market, it becomes clear that the series that triumphed tended to share one key factor: lead performers who had genuine movie star charisma and energy.

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