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New Escapist Column! On 2022 as the Return of Spectacle…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the year wrapping up, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look back at the year in cinema. In particular, one of the big unifying trends in the year’s blockbusters, which balanced a celebration and a fear of spectacle.

This was the year that “movies were back.” Many of the year’s biggest blockbusters were celebrations of blockbuster cinema in its purest form, from the IMAX cinematography of Top Gun: Maverick to the immersive 3D of Avatar: The Way of Water to the breakout international success of RRR. However, there was also an anxiety about the power of spectacle and the toll that it takes, whether on its audience or on its subject. This played out in movies like Nope or Elvis. There was also a clear worry that this might be the end of it all, playing out in movies like Babylon or even Blonde.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Top Gun: Maverick”, “Thor: Love and Thunder” and the Rise of the Anti-Legacyquel…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of both Top Gun: Maverick and Thor: Love and Thunder recently, it seemed like an opportunity to unpack what might be described as “the rise of the anti-legacyquel.”

The term “legacyquel” emerged in the middle of the last decade to describe a new kind of franchise film, one that allowed an aging cast to gracefully hand over the series to a younger generation. For a few years, it seemed like this might offer a sustainable model for Hollywood’s future. However, recent years have seen a very firm rejection of this approach, with Maverick and Love and Thunder serving as two very recent and very high-profile examples of stories about an older generation seemingly welcoming a new generation of heroes, only to take back control at the climax of the story.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Top Gun: Maverick” as a Tom Cruise Movie About Tom Cruise Saving Movies…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of Top Gun: Maverick, it seemed like a good opportunity to talk about the blockbuster sequel. In particular the way that it is a movie that is very consciously and very deliberately built around its star.

Tom Cruise has been described as one of the last movie stars, and that means that the actor exerts a certain gravity on his projects. Most Tom Cruise movies wind up being about Tom Cruise in one way or another. This is particularly true as Cruise has entered the later years of his career, as Hollywood has changed around him and as he has found himself having to constantly fight to assert his own relevance in a rapidly-shifting market place. Most recent Tom Cruise movies are about this, in one way or another, and Maverick is no different.

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