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New Escapist Column! On The Rise of “the Fakeout Death”…

I published a new piece at The Escapist during the week. With the most recent seasons of both Stranger Things and Obi-Wan Kenobi playing the same familiar trick, it seemed like a good time to talk about one of my bugbears in modern pop culture.

In recent years, it has become customary for piece of popular culture to indulge in a phenomenon best summarized as “the fakeout death”: a beloved character dies, the audience feels sad, and then they are magically restored and resurrected. It has become ubiquitous in the past five or so years: Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker, The Book of Boba Fett, even the recent Scream movies. Pop culture feels incredibly reluctant to kill off any characters with any popularity, and the result is part of the reason so many of these franchises are stagnating.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Obi-Wan Kenobi” as a Brand Management Checklist…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the broadcast of the final episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi this week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look back at the show.

Despite a promising start, Obi-Wan Kenobi descended into a mess of content. The final episode was not a story so much as a collection of demands compiled from what the studio assumed that the internet might want. There were gratuitous callbacks to memetic lines. There were largely redundant cameos. There were battles that just ended in stalement because of the understanding of what had to follow. There was the return of characters who last appeared in the premiere, with the assumption that audiences would care about them because they were “important.”

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

New Escapist Column! On “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and Why It’s Okay for Pop Media to Be Dark…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the first trailer and initial press for Obi-Wan Kenobi, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the troubled production.

In January 2020, it was announced that filming on Obi-Wan Kenobi had been delayed at the last minute, with the season’s scripts thrown out and a new showrunner brought in. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that this was the case, that the initial scripts had been junked because they contrasted with the hopeful and uplifting tone that Disney wanted for the show. However, it’s interesting to wonder whether a show like Obi-Wan Kenobi really must be optimistic and uplifting, or whether it is sometimes okay for populist entertainment to strike a tone that suits its story.

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

Not Everything, Not Yet: Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises and the Prospect of Finality

Read our in-depth review of the film here.

It’s a funny thing watching The Dark Knight Rises trailer that was released earlier in the week. It seems that a lot of people had the same response that I did. Colleagues in work, friends and family members, all looked at the trailer for the third in Nolan’s trilogy that began with Batman Begins and seemed to have the same observation. “I think he might kill Batman,” a lot of people remarked on viewing the teaser for the film. Given how safe most major studio productions are, especially those that are part of a cash-cow franchise, it’s amazing that the possibility even exists at all, hovering faintly over the film.

Broken bat…

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That One Scene…

You know the one I’m talking about. It’s the one scene in a bad movie that really got you, that managed to suggest that maybe there was a bit more to the film than met the eye. If it came towards the start of the film, it probably built up expectations that the finished product couldn’t meet. If it appeared in the middle, it made sure that you didn’t quite nod off towards the end. If it closed out the movie, you probably left feeling more satisfied with the movie-going experience than you really should. Often, however, these sequences are just frustrating because they just end up teasing what could have been.

Mauled by critics...

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