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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.

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – In the Name of Honour”

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering the season finale, In the Name of Honour.

In the Name of Honour is big. In the Name of Honour is bombastic. In the Name of Honour looks like people spent a lot of money on it. Unfortunately, In the Name of Honour is curiously hollow. It’s a season finale that bungles most of the season’s strongest thematic and character arcs, often descending into a chaotic mess of “stuff happening.” It’s a finale that has nothing of substance to say about its characters, the larger show or even the world that it depicts. It is spectacle, though.

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

 

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – From the Desert Comes a Stranger”…

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering From the Desert Comes a Stranger.

Following on from Return of the Mandalorian, From the Desert Comes a Stranger is another episode of The Book of Boba Fett that is surprisingly uninterested in Boba Fett himself. It’s an hour of television that splits its time across two significant plot threads, and the differences between the two are instructive. One of those threads is at least basically functional, if largely unremarkable. The other thread exerts a much stronger gravity, and perhaps demonstrates the worst tendencies of modern Star Wars.

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

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – Return of the Mandalorian”…

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering Return of the Mandalorian.

Return of the Mandalorian is an odd episode, in large part because it feels like an episode of a different show. Not in an abstract or metaphorical way, but in a very direct and literal way. Return of the Mandalorian feels like a lost episode of The Mandalorian, following that show’s title character in the gap between the second and third seasons. The episode isn’t bad. In fact, it’s arguably the strongest episode of The Book of Boba Fett to date. However, when the strongest episode of a first season feels like an episode of another show, that perhaps suggests more fundamental underlying problems.

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

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – The Gathering Storm”…

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering The Gathering Storm.

The Gathering Storm marks the midpoint of this season of The Book of Boba Fett. It also seems to mark the end of the extended flashbacks that have taken up so much of this first season. However, it does this with perhaps the most unnecessary flashback to date, one that eesentially fills in details that absolutely did not need to be filled in about what exactly Boba Fett got up to between Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi and his reappearance in The Mandalorian, including – strangely enough – searching for armour that the audience has already seen him recover.

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

New Podcast! Your Feature Presentation – “Does Resurrections Bring the Matrix Back to Life?”

The Escapist have launched a new pop culture podcast, and I was thrilled to join Jack Packard and Marty Silva for the third episode. With the recent release of The Matrix Resurrections and The Book of Boba Fett, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about both.

New Escapist Column! On How “Scream” is a Cutting Commentary on the Noise Around the “Star Wars” Sequels…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Scream this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to delve into the latest entry in the beloved horror franchise.

What is most interesting about the latest Scream is the extent to which it feels largely divorced and separated from the horror genre, particularly compared to the earlier films in the franchise. Instead, Scream seems much more engaged with the modern Star Wars films, borrowing key plot points and background lore from recent entries in the franchise. More than that, it’s a film that is very aggressively engaged with the fandom discussion around those films.

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

New Escapist Column! On Making Sense of “For the Fans”…

I published a new column at The Escapist earlier this week. 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 argument that franchise brand extensions exist “for the fans.” What does that even mean?

As a fan myself, I find myself unsettled and disturbed by the idea that these sorts of properties should exist primarily for the satisfaction and consumption of the existing fanbase, not least because it means validating certain kinds of fans above others and pushes franchises towards an aesthetic conservativism that often strangles them. Perhaps the best thing to do “for the fans” is simply to make media as good as possible and let history sort the rest out.

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

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.

264. Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (#—)

Hosted by Andrew Quinn and Darren Mooney, this week joined by special guests Luke Dunne, Alex Towers, Alexandra Harvey and Andy Melhuish, 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 second Saturday at 6pm GMT, with the occasional bonus episode between them.

This time, Rian Johnson’s Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

A long time ago in a galaxy far away, the First Order and the Resistance struggle for control of the cosmos. Things are looking particularly grim, as the heroes find themselves divided; Rey is on a mission to recruit the lost Jedi master Luke Skywalker, Poe finds himself trying to hold the remnants of the fleet together, and Finn embarks on a journey to a wretched hive of scum and villainy.

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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