Category Archives: Super hero

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.

a2857e66f17e0e81591bc7beaabb643c3cfea060

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.

7b265d426e1c2ef8d44b8c01ecf5e9c430f5988b

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.

dc3ec4d24c96b9f9d3079117a173ebfac3a79d63

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 & Movies Review: “Logan” – The Ultimate Wolverine Film We Want And Deserve

by Mike Reyes

If You Love Comic Movies, Cormac McCarthy Stories, And Hugh Jackman, You Have No Excuses For Missing Logan.

Logan Header

Four years ago, James Mangold & Hugh Jackman first collaborated to bringing everyone’s favorite mutant onto the big screen the right way with The Wolverine. The partnership that film forged was extremely fruitful, as the film was not only one of the best X-Men films on the market, it was also a shining example of what an excellent comic film looked like. So it couldn’t possibly get any better between these two, right? Totally f’ing wrong, as Logan not only tops the exemplary previous outing Mangold had helmed, it’s the epitome of the mature type of comic film that fans have been asking for, and rightfully so.

It’s 2029, and it’s been decades since a new mutant was born. The world of the X-Men has been almost totally forgotten, with James “Logan” Howlett, better known as “The Wolverine,” now working as a car for hire. Tending to a deteriorating Professor Xavier (Patrick Stewart,) all he wants to do is save up enough money for the two to escape the hellhole they inhabit in the American Southwest. Of course, an unforeseen complication prevents such an easy getaway: a young girl (Dafne Keen) who just may be the key to the future of the mutant race.

Let’s get something out into the open right away: Logan is NOT an adaptation of the legendary Old Man Logan storyline. If anything, the only inspiration Mark Millar’s comic serves is that Wolverine is an older, less spry version of his former self. Other than that, this story is pretty much a whole cloth fabrication of the three writers credited on the project: director James Mangold, who collaborated with fellow Wolverine alum Scott Frank, as well as writer Michael Green. And frankly, we’re all the better for it.

Logan X-23

Mangold’s obsession with westerns and honest men doing right by a world that’s long forgotten them collides lovingly with Frank’s noir-ish overtones in such a way that the first act of this film feels like Frank Miller on his best day. The first act has a very “Trump’s America: The Next Generation” vibe, and whether it be intentional or not, it informs the tone of the film’s message. In fact, if you re-wrote Logan’s story in only the most minor of contexts, you’d have a story of a man fighting a powerful corporation to protect those that he loves.

As if James Mangold’s western sensibilities didn’t show themselves enough on the script level, this entire film is drenched in the sort of bravado and moral compass that you’d see in films of the genre’s prime. Perhaps the best evidence of this is the through-line that the classic western Shane gives the film. Throughout Logan, we see Hugh Jackman’s most famous character struggle with what he’s done in his past, and tries to become a better man for whatever future he has. Though that path is a rough and bloody struggle, as he’s not only fighting his enemies, he’s fighting himself.

Speaking of Jackman, good lord does this man put on an acting clinic throughout this film. A good 75% of Logan’s action centers around the titular X-Men member, as well as Sir Patrick Stewart’s Professor Xavier, and Dafne Keen’s Laura. This trio is as solid as you’re going to get this early in the year, as their performances help ground what is still ostensibly a “comic book movie.” Though, again, you’d never know it by the performances and the material they’re given. Even the supporting cast is aces, particularly Boyd Holbrook’s Donald Pierce, who serves as a delicious southern fried villain that feels like Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday gone dark. By the way, Holbrook is going to be our newest badass in the Predator franchise, so keep an eye on this hombre.

Logan Holbrook

But perhaps the best part about Logan is the fact that mixed in with scenes of people getting sliced up and mutant powers on display are quiet character moments. In particular, a scene involving a random family dinner with our mutants and a family of civilians provides beautiful counter-balance to the justice being dispensed and the conspiracy unraveling as a consequence. With an emotional core that anchors an action packed drama of a lifetime, this is the sort of film that proves comic books aren’t simply superpowered romps with bright colors. Some stories are dingy, with moral cores and heroes that are somewhat compromised. It just goes to show that James Mangold and Hugh Jackman left it all on the field with Logan, as they prove that comic book source material can be turned into some pretty heavy stuff.

Ultimately, I’d classify Logan as more of a western noir than a comic movie, but no matter how you slice it, Jackman’s legendary badass still has claws. I’m going to miss the hell of out his version of the character, and the only question I have after this film is, why didn’t this happen sooner?

My Rating: 5/5

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!