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New Escapist Column! On What We Talk About When We Talk About Looking for “the next Game of Thrones”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Wheel of Time this week, there’s been a lot of publicity describing the show as potentially “the next Game of Thrones.”

It’s interesting to ponder what people actually mean when they talk about “the next Game of Thrones.” After all, Game of Thrones existed in a category unto itself. If anything, it answered the question of what “the next Lostor “the next Sopranosmight look like, with those perhaps answering the question of “what the next E.R.or “the next Twin Peaksmight look like, and so on. Game of Thrones was a smashing success that nobody saw coming, and which looked utterly unlike anything on television. That means that “the next Game of Thrones” probably won’t look anything like Game of Thrones.

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

New Escapist Video! On the Reverence for the Irreverent “Ghostbusters”…

So, it’s been a fun road for the video companion series to In the Frame at The Escapist, but all good things must come to an end. It looks like this will be the last episode of the series, at least for a little while. It’s been a pleasure.

That said, it’s a hell of a topic to go out on, as we discuss the strange reverential cult that has developed around Ghostbusters, with the wry and ironic eighties comedy increasingly treated as something of a holy text for a certain generation of fans. It’s a very strange illustration of how nostalgia warps and distorts the very things that it claims to remember.

New Escapist Review! “Wheel of Time”…

I published a new review at The Escapist today. Wheel of Time is premiering on Amazon on Friday, and I was lucky enough to see the first six episodes.

Publicity around Wheel of Time has mostly focused on comparisons to Game of Thrones. This is reductive, and not just because Robert Jordan’s fantasy epic predates that of G.R.R. Martin. In reality, Wheel of Time often feels like a warm-up for Amazon’s upcoming adaptation of Lord of the Rings. As one might expect, given the source material, Wheel of Time offers a detailed and compelling fantasy world, but the series gets a little bit too preoccupied with setting all of its balls in motion rather than engaging with the story that it is telling.

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.

New Escapist Video! “Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a Lifeless Franchise Resurrection”

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 Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which will release in theatres next weekend.

New Escapist Column! On “The Lord of the Rings” as a Blockbuster for the Post-Ironic Age…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the twentieth anniversary of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings fast approaching, it seemed like a good opportunity to place the films in the context of their times.

Obviously, every work reflects the time in which it is produced – it speaks to a variety of factors (consciously or unconsciously) acting on the creative talent as it evolves into its final form. However, audiences also can’t help but engage with a work in the context of the time in which it is released. Peter Jackson shot most of his Lord of the Rings trilogy before 9/11, even if The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Rings was released in theatres three months after the attack. Still, it’s not to feel like the films’ earnestness and sincerity resonated with an audience looking for meaning in seemingly chaotic and arbitrary time.

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

New Escapist Video! On the Myth of a Grim and Gritty Batman…

So, as I have mentioned before, I am launching a new video series as a companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch with every second Monday’s article, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel the following week. 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.

With the release of the latest trailer for The Batman, it seemed like a good time to delve into a recurring debate among Batman fans, the argument over whether portrayals of the character are too dark and gritty. It’s a strange argument, given that the only solo Batman movie in the past decade has been The LEGO Batman Movie, so it’s worth unpacking.

New Escapist Column! On Chloé Zhao’s “Eternals” and Marvel Studios Auteurship…

I published a new column at The Escapist today. With the upcoming release of Chloé Zhao’s Eternals, and the ongoing debate around it, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the narrative around the film.

Publicity around Eternals has made a big deal of the extent to which Zhao is the author of the film. Zhao has made it clear that she directed all the film’s action, and Kevin Feige has talked about how hard she fought to use real locations rather than simply green-screen effects. This is interesting, because these two very basic accomplishments are being treated as a big deal, as a revolutionary amount of freedom being afforded to a creative talent. It’s an interesting snapshot of modern blockbuster filmmaking, where these freedoms are considered exceptional and newsworthy.

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

New Escapist Column! On Chris Chibnall’s “Doctor Who” Aspiring to Prestige Television…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With Doctor Who: Flux launching this weekend, it seemed like a good excuse to take a look back at Chris Chibnall’s tenure as showrunner.

One of the more interesting recurring aspects of Chris Chibnall’s tenure as showrunner of Doctor Who has been the way in which he has embraced a lot of the narrative and visual language associated with “prestige television” – the anamorphic lenses, the muted colour scheme, the serialisation, the minimalism, the self-seriousness. It’s an approach that is an awkward fit for the show, particularly when the era around it seems so lacking in substance. It feels like an unconvincing attempt to argue that Doctor Who is “serious business.”

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

New Escapist Video! “Army of Thieves Is a By-The-Numbers Heist Movie – 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 Army of Thieves, which will release on Netflix this weekend.