Category Archives: Epic

Spider-Man: Homecoming Review – The Best Spidey Film Ever, Full Stop.

By Mike Reyes

Thanks to Jon Watts’ sublime directing, and a cast that’s anchored by a fantastic hero and villain, Spider-Man: Homecoming does whatever a Spider-Man couldn’t do on the big screen.

It’s been a long damned road to Spider-Man: Homecoming. We got two great films out of the Sam Raimi / Tobey Maguire run, with one absolutely abysmal one that shut down the rumored seven film cycle they were attempting. And then there were two very mixed-up films by director Marc Webb, with Andrew Garfield making a great run as Peter Parker / Spider-Man. But neither of those runs could prepare me for Spider-Man: Homecoming, as this latest film did what the franchise has never done before: it made a superior adaptation of the Spider-Man mythos.

Cocktails & Movies Review: “Wonder Woman” – Score A Big Hearted Win For The DC Extended Universe

by Mike Reyes

After what seemed like forever, Wonder Woman has finally arrived in Hollywood, with strong, but mixed, results.

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With three films under its belt, the pre-Wonder Woman DC Extended Universe was in a bit of a bind. Between the way it handled its characters and source material, as well as the variously noted disasters, debacles, and reshuffles in its cabinet, it looked like they were never going to put out a film that could please the public. But then, hope started to shine as Patty Jenkins came aboard the first cinematic outing for the princess of Themyscira, and a pretty solid cast boarded under her leadership. Well, it pleases me to say that while Wonder Woman isn’t the silver bullet (or bulletproof bracelet) that Warner Bros intended, it’s a strong, satisfying base hit.

After growing up in the idyllic Themyscira, its princess, Diana (Gal Gadot,) ventures into the world of mankind. Accompanied by the soldier that crash lands into her life (Chris Pine,) our protagonist embarks on her greatest adventure yet. With World War I raging, and Diana’s naivete adjusting to the culture shock, the search is on for the madman who’s pulling the strings of the conflict. As her battle rages on, Diana will learn what it’s like to be human, warts and all.

While Wonder Woman is a far from perfect film, it’s a truly heartfelt piece of entertainment. Up until now, DC’s films have had a sort of anarchic / nihilistic sort of attitude about them, with a sliver of optimism being represented by Superman. With that sliver now dead in the universe, and Justice League looking like more of a bro-down than any of the other Warner Bros films, Wonder Woman is a refreshing change of pace, as the film decides to focus on themes of heroism and love. The message is a little clunky at times, particularly when the dialogue hits the nail a little too on the head, but the fact that the message is there is still important. Should the internet turn its attentions to memes about Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman’s relationship, rather than The Joker and Harley Quinn’s “relationship,” the world will already be better off.

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Of course, the goodwill doesn’t end there, as Wonder Woman powers forth with Gal Gadot as its sterling female lead and director Patty Jenkins finally putting her stamp on the comic book world, both making huge strides for women in a male-dominated genre / industry. Thankfully, that angle isn’t preached with tone-deaf sentiment, as the strength of Gadot, and the rest of the female characters in this world, is shown in actions rather than dialogue. Ms. Gadot, in particular, balances wide-eyed wonder with her warrior nature quite well, with minimal sour notes being hit throughout. It’s just a shame that the film leaves Themyscira so soon, as the film ditches 95% of its strong female characters once the action moves into the real world.

It should also be noted that Chris Pine absolutely shines in this movie, as do his fellow World War I compatriots. That’s partially because all of them are full fledged, captivating characters on their own, each with a sparkling personality, and a common goal in the name of the common good. However, it’s really Gal Gadot’s chemistry with the group, and the earnestness of her performance, that make this unit as fun to watch as Captain America, Peggy Carter, and the Howling Commandos.

Unfortunately, there’s something to be said about a lot of the borrowed elements that Wonder Woman displays, as there are moments in here that not only recall Captain America: The First Avenger, but also one particular scene in Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Let’s just say No Man’s Land becomes one of those “hit the nail on the head” moments we were talking about, albeit the moment itself is redeemed with an exemplary action sequence that exhilarates the film. While these elements aren’t exactly unique in the world of comic books, it’s more noticeable when you copy elements in the context of a film.

But perhaps the weakest element of Wonder Woman is, in fact, the villainous contingent throughout the film. There’s three villains in this film, and none of them escape the classification of mere caricatures. There’s even a laughable moment where Danny Huston’s  General Ludendorff and Elena Anaya’s Dr. Maru (aka “Dr. Poison”) engage in some comedic villainy that makes for a quick chuckle, but renders both characters unable to be taken seriously. Not to mention, the third act is damaged by this villain problem, as the final showdown just isn’t as compelling as it wants or hopes to be. For a film that has such a strong first two acts, it really hurts to see the finale turn into a subpar closer.

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Despite its flaws, Wonder Woman is a film for fans of the comic book genre, as well as movie fans altogether. It’s an especially dazzling film when seen in IMAX 3D too, as the quality of the visuals are only enhanced by the superb presentation of third dimensional enhancement. It’s not a perfect movie, and there’s plenty of comic book films that outrank it in brilliance, but Wonder Woman represents hope for a better female driven franchise ahead. What it lacks in plot it makes up for in well-drawn characters you want to spend time with, and a lead that truly rocks her role like a goddess. Gal Gadot has come a long way from her Fast & Furious days, and Patty Jenkins continues to shine as a vital directorial voice in the world of film. May they both come out of the gate swinging for Wonder Woman 2, should the market allow such a possibility, as I already miss their work.

My Rating: 3.5 / 5

Cocktails And Movies Review: “Tomorrowland” – The Future That Never Was Explodes In Technicolor Delight

by Mike Reyes

Brad Bird strikes again, as geeks and kids alike will go nuts over this sci-i adventure!

Walt Disney was a man who had a stereotypical vision of a utopic future. A world where peace and harmony reigned, humanity wasn’t scrapping with itself over the resources, technology that would be available to all, and a world where imagination was as important as commerce. Tomorrowland was that vision, and it stands in the Disney theme parks as a constant reminder that, as the song says, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day!” Sadly, Walt’s vision was never truly fulfilled in the real world, and as our culture has moved forward it’s taken a more cynical approach to its reality as well as its fiction. Still, there are dreamers out there who believe we could be doing better, and Brad Bird (The Incredibles) has always clearly been one of them. Only a wide eyed dreamer could create a film like Tomorrowland, and only Bird could make it soar.

Cocktails And Movies Review: “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes” – A Thinking Person’s Blockbuster

By Mike Reyes

Matt Reeves completes the franchise’s transformation from campy sci-fi classic to a full blown cerebral spectacle!

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes female-babyGrowing up as a movie geek, there would be certain movies I’d be all about when it came to getting excited. I’d read any tie-in novel you could throw at me, listen to the soundtrack a handful of times beforehand, and watch tons of behind the scenes featurettes to prime myself for the movie before me. I didn’t care about spoiling the movie, I cared about putting myself into the environment of the film so I could better enjoy everything that was about to unfold. I stopped doing that for a good long while, and it took a movie like Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes to put me back on that track. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes promised a sequel that would take what was once a running joke of pop culture and turn it into something much more serious. Matt Reeves not only does this, but he also crafts a film that could be considered The Godfather Part II of science fiction.

Review “Thor: The Dark World” – Bring on the Thunder!!!

by Tim Barley

Cocktails and Movies might have found its new “action movie of the year.”

Three things that I thought about as I wandered out of the theater into the bright sunshine after seeing Thor: The Dark World:

  1. If I inhabited the world of Marvel movies, I would be afraid (very afraid) that gods, monsters and aliens have chosen the planet Earth for their stomping ground in old grudge matches. I could as WHY they chose Earth, but I can only assume it’s because the movie production facilities on other planets in the known universe pale in comparison to what we humans have achieved in 100 years or so of film.
  2. I am so glad that I was a comic book nerd for 20 years of my life and that I still have them so I can look at them again and see where this whole Marvel Universe is headed. (And if you  know your comic books and if you stick around for the first tag in the credits – there are two – you can put together what you see there and the one you saw in Avengers and figure it out… amazing!)
  3. Thor is a great, bad ass film!