Category Archives: Review

Baby Driver Review: The Ultimate Summer Joy Ride

by Mike Reyes

Somebody better call the folks at Merriam-Webster, because it’s time to update the dictionary. Cool is now spelled “B-A-B-Y.”

Edgar Wright is one of the most important director of modern cinema, and there’s very little room to argue against this fact. His understanding of the movies is so keen that he can always send up a genre while paying tribute to it with a fully functional entry in its canon. But with Baby Driver, he pushes himself to provide more than just another Edgar Wright film. It’s because of this that just might be his best work yet.

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

Cocktails and Movies Review: “Live By Night” – Score Another One For Ben Affleck.

by Mike Reyes

A slow burning film noir that defies modern convention, Live By Night chooses its moments of violence and introspection carefully, delivering a much needed and powerful punch.

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2016 looked like another year that it was cool to bag on Ben Affleck. Between Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice tanking creatively, and Bret Easton Ellis throwing shade on his solo Batman flick, the writer/director/actor wasn’t having a good time. And yet, folks couldn’t help but take one last shot as they gave mixed to panning reviews of his latest film, Live By Night, as a triple threat. This is a damned shame, because not only is the film a fantastic entry into the canon of gangster films, it should be an awards contender.