comic book

[Movie Review] A Warm and Welcome Homecoming for Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man

spidermanhome_posterWith great power, comes great responsibility, John Watts. It’s one thing to have Spidey somewhat back in the hands of Marvel Studios, it’s a whole other thing to deliver a portrayal of Peter Parker’s alter ego that can wipe the slate clean from sins passed. Watts has come from ultra low budget horror, Clown, to helming what is hands down the greatest Spider-Man film to date.

Sam Raimi and Marc Webb both tried and–to certain degrees–failed to deliver crowd pleasing adventures for everyone’s favorite web-slinger. While these were not the first efforts to bring the character to the screen in one way or another, of the most modern attempts it would seem the third time (third iteration anyway) was the charm. Tom Holland’s first appearance in Captain America: Civil War gave legions of fans hope for the impending reboot as it certainly appeared that finally the tone and personality of Peter Parker and his arachnid alias had been captured. Spider-Man: Homecoming extends that and more with nearly the entire high school setting.  (more…)

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[Mega Movie Review] Catching Up on 2017

13886469_1267046413328617_7042198926381498825_nBusy time of year folks, so apologies to anyone who actually looks forward to my latest reviews. I didn’t want everything I’ve seen to fall by the wayside, so here are some brief thoughts on everything I’ve seen so far in 2017 but haven’t had time to sit down and put full write ups on. Sit back relax and “enjoy” some candid hot takes on these 2017 releases!

Kong: Skull Island – Come for the star studded cast then shove them aside for the awesome creature fights. Kong is visually impressive, but it lacks humanity in a pretty comical way. The characters very much feel like empty shells taking us from one place to another to be bait for the eventual breathtaking spectacle of the Kong fights. In spite of the lack of characters to hang your hat on this was still a pretty tremendous and crowd pleasing theater experience. Rating: B+

Gifted – Sort of let this one get lost in the shuffle. This is a very understated film. There was almost no marketing push and it just sort of appeared in theaters with little to no fanfare. If its still out there though, get out and see it. I could have used a little more closure for some of the relationships and perhaps a little more emotion out of Chris Evans’ character, but this has been the most affective dramas so far this year that also happens to have a pretty delightful sense of humor. Rating: A- (more…)

[Movie Review] ‘Logan’ Infuses Heart and Violence into a Potent Cocktail

logan_poster-tgofWhile superhero fatigue still has me in its icy grip, along comes Logan to warm that chill–at least temporarily. Perhaps it’s the, at times, overwhelming violence or the emotional vulnerability of being a new dad that makes the arc Wolverine’s final chapter that much more effective. Whatever way you look at it, Hugh Jackman’s curtain call as the claw wielding potty-mouth is a fitting and emotional bow that might rely a little too much on its R rating and hero cliches.

Picking up in 2029 where mutant residency has since passed, Logan spends his days driving a limo for drunk brides and frat boys chanting ‘Merica near the US/Mexico border. South of the border Logan lives with Caliban (Stephen Merchant) and an aged Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart with his most powerful portrayal as Professor X to date) suffering dementia and the occasional population crippling seizure. With his health steadily declining and his body unwilling to heal like it used to Logan begrudgingly accepts to transport a young mutant, Laura (Dafne Keen), with powers strikingly similar to his own, North across the Canadian border and hopefully to safety away from the research facility tracking her down. (more…)

Movie Review: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

bvsdoj_tgofThere are those of us who willingly choose to avoid the paper representations of the immensely popular superhero films. In doing so, while unable to provide a glimpse into how faithful the adaptations are, can still provide a unique and still truthful outlook to the success of the filmmakers to present a story that is worthwhile and thrilling. Sadly, it’s filmmakers like Zack Snyder who make us realize how good we had it with Christopher Nolan and his uneven take on the cowled vigilante in The Dark Knight Rises. Nolan, provided a grim perspective on the Batman universe and Snyder too uses the grim approach, it also is more often than not…soulless.

For better or worse I approach each superhero flick hoping to experience a well told story. With any luck it’ll come together cohesively even without having read the comics. One should not have to have that knowledge to enjoy the film counterparts because it is the job of the filmmaker to present the story in a way that makes sense in its own right. Snyder has not done his due diligence in this regard- at least from this viewer’s perspective. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice certainly sets the table for DC’s own Avengers type formula, but does so in messy fashion. Consider Synder’s vision the Island of Misfit toys so to speak, which goes a long way in describing the film as a whole. It’s like a child playing with his toys and like a child they’re no sense or meaning to anything that happens, just the bashing together of plastic soulless figures because it’s fun. Plus this particular child has a $250 million budget so those plastic toys look a lot cooler.  (more…)

Movie Review: Deadpool

teaser-one-sheetIn 2009, if someone had mused about the possibility of a Deadpool movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine almost singlehandedly put those hopes to bed. The fact that we are here now, means of course the fate of the “Merc with a mouth” wasn’t quite as grim as previously feared. Comic fans and non-readers alike can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the gleefully profane Deadpool not only found the light of day, but shattered box office records even with its much needed hard R rating. Breathe a double sigh for the fact that the film is pretty f*ckin’ awesome too.

A superhero movie decidedly not for the kiddos, but don’t worry, when they are of age they’ll seek this bad boy out and you can finally share in the love. Deadpool follows the origin story of the anti-hero played wonderfully by Ryan Reynolds. Before he was Deadpool though he was Wade Wilson, a mercenary for hire who meets and falls in love with Vanessa (Morena Baccarin). Things seem to be going perfectly when he’s hit with a bombshell- he has cancer. Facing certain death and unwilling to make Vanessa endure the pain he accepts an invite from a mysterious man proclaiming he has the cure and can turn Wilson into a hero with extraordinary abilities. The process leaves him horribly scarred and Wilson embarks on a revenge mission to find the man who turned him into an invincible monster.  (more…)

Movie Review: The Amazing Spider Man 2

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At this point no matter how hard Sony tries I cannot get excited about their new round of Spider-Man movies. I like Andrew Garfield, I love Emma Stone and I like comic book movies. Hell, I even liked THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN more than most. The trailers for THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 didn’t make me NOT want to see it, but I just couldn’t get excited about it- same went for Marc Webb’s first go around. As of now the cinematic Spidey world just feels too crowded and THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 isn’t doing the cannon many favors.

Picking up where the first left off the sequel follows the continued efforts of Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) trying to keep the streets clean with his alter ego Spider-Man. At the same time Peter is juggling his conflicted relationship with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) an old friend, Harry Osbourne (Dane DeHaan) returns with troubling news. Before long a huge admirer, Max (Jamie Foxx) suffers an accident that leaves him with shocking power that he can’t seem to control. When Spidey tries to neutralize Max his admiration turns to hatred as the newly dubbed Electro sets his sights on eliminating Spider-Man from the world. (more…)

Movie Review: Iron Man 3 (2013)

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I must admit that as much as I loved IRON MAN I probably could have been done with the series after IRON MAN 2. I didn’t hate the sequel, but aside from the racing sequence it seemed like nothing more than a clone of the first film with an equally if less satisfying finale. It took nothing more than one trailer for IRON MAN 3 for me to change my tune completely, granted THE AVENGERS did soften the blow immensely. With all due respect to comic nerds, IRON MAN 3 delivered on almost every level for me and I dare say it could possibly end up being my favorite of the series thus far.

Following the events during the finale of THE AVENGERS, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who we all know also as Iron Man, is struggling to sleep- in fact when he does he has terrible nightmares. A lack of sleep has also lead to a series of equally distressing panic attacks as he is terrified of the potential that he cannot match the power of his opponents and thus cannot protect the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). While Stark struggles the world is looking at a global terror threat in the form of The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), who has been causing lots of tension with a series of mysterious bombings of which there is no evidence of an actual bomb at the scene. When Stark’s interest in the matter becomes personal he can’t resist the urge to call out terrorist which sparks an intense confrontation where Stark must alone face a threat unlike anything he’s seen.

It’s true that I have never read an Iron Man comic in my life and it’s been made abundantly clear that because of that I cannot comment on how a comic lover would enjoy IRON MAN 3, but as a fan of the first film and the character as portrayed by Downey Jr. I have to say this movie straight up rocks. I am aware of an Extremis plot within the comics, which this film explores and Shane Black’s film works for me in every way. It isn’t perfect by any means, but the personal conflict Stark faces along with the way it ties in with THE AVENGERS all hit me in a way that I enjoyed greatly.

I did have some questions with some of the logistics of certain scenes and the fact that this takes place in a post Avengers world how at some point none of them might have been called upon, but at some point I just was okay with brushing aside those thoughts and enjoying how fun and exciting the film is on its own. Shane Black’s script had enough surprises and flip flops to keep me on my toes and interested in the outcome of any given situation to almost make me forget how let down I felt after IRON MAN 2. I am not quite sure if it really stacks up with THE AVENGERS in terms of total enjoyment, but as an Iron Man film it delivered in every way for me.

The special effects are great and when integrated into some of the central action sequences they are easily the best the series has seen. The climactic battle is alone better than the first two film’s final fights put together. Aside from the finale there are two really epic action sequences that are equally impressive in terms of visuals and overall quality of filmmaking. Don’t get me wrong because I love THE AVENGERS, but the plane rescue in this film at times beats many of the action set pieces featured in Joss Whedon’s film.

It was a breath of fresh air to see a new face behind the camera for the third IRON MAN, but I must say that Black’s script doesn’t always take full advantage of its characters in spite of some really fun surprises. I also don’t find the use of 3D to be necessary despite the fact that it works incredibly in the plane rescue and a few other moments, but felt wasted in many other scenes including the finale.

IRON MAN 3 is bound to have a crowd of detracts, but then again what movie doesn’t these days. Shane Black did more than enough to restore my faith in the franchise and in the process directed a film that could close it out in a satisfying way and be the most enjoyable of the series. Robert Downey Jr. continues to knock it out of the park as the wisecracking billionaire and eccentric genius while carrying everyone around him. IRON MAN 3 also shares some of the villain woes from its predecessors, but makes up for them in ways the previous films didn’t. This non-comic enthusiast may not have the knowledge that most nerds have, but I still give the film two enthusiastic thumbs up.

Rating: A-

Brew & View: Scott Pilgrim vs. The World

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The first edition of Brew & View, a post in which I pick a movie and suggest a beer for you to enjoy as you watch said film features 2010’s SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD. I caught Edgar Wright’s video game/comic book film in theaters and was a bit apprehensive at first, but warmed up to over time. I gave it a pretty favorable review in spite of any issues I may have had on the first viewing and it’s become a film I love more and more everytime I watch it even though I still don’t think the romance angle is as effective as I’d like.

There’s an indie spirit to the approach Wright takes to the film, but some pretty awesome flashy sensibilities as well when it comes to the way the fights are choreographed and executed. The humor is what carries this film through along with the visual style and video game flare thrown in just for fun.

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Beer Pairing: Tallgrass Brewing Company’s 8-Bit Pale Ale

The choice here is intentionally transparent as it plays with the video game theme that’s also present in the film. SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD opens with the Universal logo and theme in an 8-Bit style animation and music which fits in perfectly with the name of the beer.

What I feel also links these two outside of the obvious name connection is the fact that Tallgrass’ 8-Bit Pale Ale is a beer that I wasn’t quite sure what to think of at first, but only got better as I drank it more. There’s a bit of a citrus taste that comes through on the nose and on the taste making it a light beverage at first but finishes with a bit of a bite- a perfect beverage counterpart for SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD.

Movie Review: Dredd (2012)

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Few comic book movies have elements that aren’t inherently silly or elements that come off as silly when implemented on film. Even dark interpretations like THE DARK KNIGHT have aspects that people scoff at, just as THE AVENGERS has aspects equally as eye rolling to certain audiences. For me DREDD is a comic book adaptation that mixes that dark tone with elements of that straight popcorn fluff entertainment into a gleefully violent and fun action flick.

As a straight up reimagining to the woefully terrible Stallone flick DREDD is everything JUDGE DREDD wishes it were. Sure it’s missing all the hilariously fun and over-the-top acting moments from its cast that you can play over and over on YouTube, but what it lacks in unintentional laughs it makes up for in straight faced jabs that can be equally as fun and entertaining. The younger version of myself was always able to squeeze plenty of enjoyment out of Stallone’s turn at the character, but after seeing this update I’m more than just aware that my younger self should be served up for judgment.

Karl Urban is awesome as the stone faced Judge Dredd, a law enforcer in the wasteland of the old world that is just one of many with the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner to those who chose to ignore the law. Olivia Thirlby plays a trainee appointed to Dredd as the two investigate a murder in a massive apartment complex run by a lethal drug kingpin know as Ma-Ma (Lena Headey), who locks them in with intent to kill, so the Judges are forced to fight for their lives. Thirlby holds her own, but it’s really Urban and Headey’s show as the two square off and have plenty of fun doing so.

Through all the grizzled tough talk DREDD has a pretty awesome visual style, while the story is nearly identical to THE RAID: REDEMPTION. The similarity isn’t an issue as far as the been-there-done-that factor goes, but honestly THE RAID’s action and fight choreography tends to put DREDD in its place. That’s not to say I’m telling you to skip this because of that, because the action here is still good, it’s just that it’s unfortunate that it shares so much in common with a film released the same year.

DREDD is a comic adaptation B-Movie action flick that was never going to change your life, but it is a damn fine piece of popcorn entertainment. This film serves as a memory wipe of the Sylvester Stallone vehicle that came before it and replaces it with a stylish, bloody and darkly comedic entry into the comic book film realm. DREDD may also dip a few too many times in the Zack Snyder bucket of slow motion scenes, but watching people’s heads explode in slow motion is still pretty hard to be mad at.

Rating: B+