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New Escapist Column! On “Strange Worlds” as a Love Letter to Disney’s Forgotten “Boys’ Own” Adventures…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist yesterday. With the release of Strange World, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the latest animated film from Disney.

Many of the more recent high-profile Disney animated films have been anchored in the brand’s “princess” iconography, feeling like extensions of classics like The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. Part of what is interesting about Strange World is that it is a movie rooted in another, rather under-explored, chapter in the history of Disney’s animated filmmaking. Strange World is best understood as an extension of the wave of oft-forgotten “Adventureland” movies of the turn of the millennium, those movies aimed more overtly at boys, like Tarzan, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet.

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

New Escapist Video! On Kevin Conroy as the Definitive Batman…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, with the recent passing of Kevin Conroy, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at his work with the character of Batman, from Batman: The Animated Series through Justice League and beyond. What was it that made Conroy such a definitive and iconic take on the character? Why has he endured? What is that makes him unique?

New Escapist Column! On the Radical Empathy of “Knives Out” and “Glass Onion”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist on Friday. With the release of Glass Onion in theatres, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about Benoit Blanc, the film’s protagonist.

Glass Onion is built around the idea of murder mysteries and puzzleboxes. However, like Knives Out before it, the film is something of a criticism of a rigidly rationalist approach to detective fiction, of the idea that solving a crime is a strictly mechanical process. Instead, both Knives Out and Glass Onions are movies about the importance of empathy and humanism in understanding the true moral nature of crime. This is most obvious in Benoit Blanc, who is introduced as an outside observer of these crimes, but cannot escape their gravity.

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

New Escapist Video! “Andor is the Best Star Wars in a Long Time”

I’m thrilled to be launching movie and television 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 five-minute review of the first season of Andor, which can now be streamed on Disney+.

New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as the Most Consistent “Star Wars”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Rix Road brings the first season of Andor to an end, closing the cricle by bringing the primary cast back to where it all began. It’s a fascinating and compelling way to close out the season, underscoring how much these characters have changed by bringing them back to their starting position. Rix Road is a breathtaking and impressive season finale to what has been the most consistent run of Star Wars ever produced.

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

New Escapist Column! On “1899” and the Problems of Abstraction…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. Last week saw the release of Netflix’s 1899, a surreal mystery thriller from the creative minds behind Dark.

1899 is an impressive show in many ways, a multilingual series with a diverse cast, that is also the most expensive television show ever made in Germany. It is packed with big ideas, and grapples with heady themes, without ever stopping to apologise for itself or condescend to its audience. There’s undoubtedly something appealing in that. However, there’s a strange coldness to the show, a detachment that makes it very hard to emotionally invest in the series as anything more than an intellectual exercise.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Atlanta” as One of Television’s Great Liminal Spaces…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Atlanta wrapping up its final season earlier this month, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at one of television’s great liminal spaces.

Creator and lead actor Donald Glover frequently compared the show to Twin Peaks and The Sopranos, two very interesting choices for a show that has the basic structure of a sitcom built around four central characters. However, over the course of its four season, Atlanta became a surrealist study of millennial Black life in the United States, in particular the constant sense of being stuck “between” places without a firm status quo. Atlanta is a show that largely unfolds in shopping centres, nightclubs and hotels, and parties and in altered states. It’s a show that often feels dreamlike, its characters drifting through a chaotic world.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Better Call Saul”, “Andor” and Slow-Burn Classics…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier this week. As Andor winds down its first season, garnering rave reviews but not attracting as strong an audience as its predecessors, comparisons come to mind concerning Better Call Saul, which has quietly become one of the best television shows of the decade despite never reaching the same level of popularity as its predecessor.

What do Better Call Saul and Andor have in common? What is it that makes both shows so compelling, but which also makes them a tougher sell to audiences than what came before? Are they both just out of step with the zeitgeist, reflecting a mode of television production that doesn’t have the same cultural cachet that it once did? And, most importantly, does any of that matter if they are both creative triumphs? It’s interesting to explore and unpack.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Mythic Quest” as a Professional Relationship Comedy…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the third season of Mythic Quest launching last week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what is quietly one of the best sitcoms on television.

Mythic Quest is a comedy about the idea of creation as a collaborative process, the sense that very few things originate from one mind in particular. As such, the show’s sitcom structure bends around that idea in interesting ways. In particular, the show approaches relationships through the prism of professionalism. Most sitcoms lean into romantic tension between their leads, but Mythic Quest applies that relationship template to a more professional and creative environment, exploring how fulfilling professional relationships can be profoundly fulfilling.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and How the MCU Grew Up With Its Audience…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier this week. With the release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, and the end of Phase 4, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at one of the more interesting trends within the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe: the way that it has grown up with its audience.

The audience that went to see Iron Man fourteen years ago are no longer teenagers, or even young adults. They are now adults, many of whom will have settled down and started families. It is entirely possible that a couple who went to see The Incredible Hulk on their first date ended up taking their child to Thor: Love and Thunder. One of the more interesting aspects of the modern MCU has been the way that its plotting and themes have evolved to reflect that, with many of its once roguish heroes becoming biological or surrogate parents.

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