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New Escapist Column! On “Moon Knight” and the Limits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Moon Knight, which is streaming weekly on Disney+. The penultimate episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

As Moon Knight enters its end game, the show demonstrates the limits of the ambition and experimentation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, boiling an interesting and compelling premise down to a fairly simplistic and straightforward illustration of cause and effect. There’s something rather depressing in the show’s commitment to easy answers to its central character, and it is all the more frustrating because this is a major release from a company that holds such an important and influential place in the popular consciousness. There’s no excuse for this lack of ambition.

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

New Escapist Video! On the Visual Storytelling of “Better Call Saul”…

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 be completely 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.

With the broadcast of the new season of Better Call Saul, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the show’s visual storytelling – the way in which it uses images to communicate plot, character and theme.

New Escapist Column! On “Moon Knight” and the Archeology of the Self…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Moon Knight, which is streaming weekly on Disney+. The fourth episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Last week, I discussed how the show’s homage to Raiders of the Lost Ark fell flat because it was too sterile and sexless, unwilling to let Oscar Isaac be Oscar Isaac. In contrast, this week there’s a sense in which the show’s archeology metaphor makes a great deal of sense. It’s a metaphor for Steven and Marc’s journey, constantly unearthing details of their selves and their identities, digging into mysteries and trying to reverse engineer logic or reason from the afterimage to which they wake. It’s a clever piece of thematic storytelling, getting into how characters are defined by their past, whether they know it or not.

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

New Escapist Video! “The Northman is a Breathtaking Blockbuster”

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 Northman, which is in theatres in the U.K. and Ireland now and in the United States next week.

New Escapist Column! On “Severance” and the Work/Life Imbalance…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the season finale of Severance last week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look at one of the most interesting new shows on television.

Severance is a science-fiction show build around the fictional concept of “severance”, a medical procedure that allows a person to completely separate their professional and personal selves. However, beneath this high concept, Severance plays as a metaphor for a lot of the current anxieties about the work/life balance, and the intrusion of private enterprise into personal lifestyles.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “Moon Knight” Suffers From the Sexlessness of the MCU…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. We’re doing a series of recaps and reviews of Moon Knight, which is streaming weekly on Disney+. The third episode of the show released this week, and it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the series.

Moon Knight very obviously wants to evoke a particular sort of old-fashioned romantic globe-trotting adventure, like Raiders of the Lost Ark, Romancing the Stone or even The Mummy. It is arguably part of a recent attempted revival of the subgenre, including Jungle Cruise and Lost City of D. However, the show’s attempts to tap into this sort of classic odd couple romance demonstrates the limits of the weird insistent sexlessness that define so many modern blockbuster stories. Moon Knight manages the seemingly impossible, in that it makes Oscar Isaac seem sexless.

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

New Escapist Video! On How “Moon Knight” Approaches Marvel’s “Villain Problem”…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly 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. 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 Moon Knight, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the show. In particular, how Moon Knight offers an interesting approach to the long-standing “villain problem” facing Marvel Studios.

New Escapist Column! On the Forgotten Nineties Pulp Superhero Boom…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at Sam Raimi’s first superhero movie: Darkman.

Darkman is notable because it belongs to a wave of early nineties superhero movies that were heavily influenced by the pulp heroes of the thirties and forties: Batman, Dick Tracy, The Rocketeer, The Shadow, The Mask, The Phantom. This is a fascinating and often overlooked trend in the history of what would become the biggest genre in Hollywood. It’s interesting to look at these movies collectively, to place in the wave of a broader cultural nostalgia for the pop culture of the era.

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

New Escapist Column! On How “The Motion Picture” Gave the “Star Trek” Universe Room to Breathe…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of the recently remastered Director’s Edition of Star Trek: The Motion Picture, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the first feature film in the Star Trek franchise.

The Motion Picture is often derided by its critics as “the Motionless Picture”, reflecting the film’s slow pacing and simplistic plot in contrast to its more relaxed runtime. These criticisms are entirely valid, but they also ignore one of the central appeals of The Motion Picture. Just two years after George Lucas welcomed viewers to “a galaxy far, far away” with Star Wars, The Motion Picture made the Star Trek universe truly tactile and tangible. The film is perhaps best understood as an experience rather than a narrative, a window into the franchise’s fictional universe.

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

New Escapist Column! On How the Fate of the MCU Rests on “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness”…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the looming release of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seemed like a good time to reflect on how so much of the fate of the Marvel Cinematic Universe came to rely on he sequel to Doctor Strange.

Doctor Strange was a solid midtier entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It was warmly, but not raptuously, received by both audiences and critics. However, there is something fascinating in how the studio has positioned Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as essentially the franchise’s first true “event” movie since Avengers: Endgame. Indeed, there’s a surprising amount riding on the film, following the performance of the previous three Marvel Studios films and the success of Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman.

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