Friday, August 14, 2015

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. Review

Have you ever had a dream that Hollywood would create a crossover of Superman and the Lone Ranger? No? Well, neither have I. But if you have, this is probably the best that you'll get as we have our most recent Superman in Henry Cavill team up with our most recent Lone Ranger in Armie Hammer team up to stop someone from blowing up the world. Cool right? More on those two later in this review. This year has actually been quite the good year for this style of movie and will continue to be a good year. Earlier this year we had the huge sleeper hit Kingsman: The Secret Service. Last month Tom Cruise returned as Ethan Hunt in Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation. Later this year, Bond will be back again as Spectre hits theaters. You could even argue that Mad Max: Fury Road is a similar movie to all these (even though it's not a spy movie), thus making this an even better year. Before we get the next Bond, though, we have this smaller spy/thriller movie coming out in mid-August called The Man From U.N.C.L.E. that has been doing its best through marketing to make people think this is its as good as a Bond or a Bourne movie. Is it? Uh, no. Not even close. But it is fairly entertaining in its own right, so it's a decent option this weekend if you've already seen the big blockbusters.

Story. This is where I'm supposed to describe this movie to you, right? Ha ha. That's funny. I will admit that I was slightly preoccupied with some other things in my mind while I was watching this, but the story in this movie was just not engaging at all. Part of the reason is that it was the most cliche and generic story ever for a spy movie. Humor me for a second and try to think of what that would be. What's the most cliche spy story you can think of? Got it? If your answer was something along the lines of villain has a bomb and hero has to stop villain from blowing something up, then you just nailed the exact storyline of this movie. Like seriously. That's it. No twists. No turns. No creativity.I found myself kinda bored at times because once we were introduced to what was happening, it was easy to determine exactly what was going to happen. Also I learned when the movie began that this is actually based on a TV show. Oh. Okay. I don't know how I missed that one, but I've never even heard of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. TV show, so there's no way I can even think of giving a comparison. If you are a fan of that show, I would love to hear your thoughts about the movie compared to the TV show. As I was watching, I was assuming that the TV show had some stories in it that were more creative than the one we got for the movie, so I'm guessing that it doesn't quite live up, but I have no idea.

However, despite this huge knock on the story, I do realize that it's very possible to have a spy movie or an action movie that is entertaining despite the lack of a good story and I am happy to report that this is the case here. I didn't really go in expecting much from this movie. I just wanted to have fun for a couple of hours. And I did. This is a fun movie. You see, that's the thing with me and movies. People often ask me what my favorite genre is and I have a hard time answering that question because I love a lot of different genres. I'm good at flipping the switch in my brain to expect different things from different movies. If I go into a comedy, I expect to laugh and if I do, then the movie is a success. If I go into an action movie, I expect to have fun and if I do, then the movie is a success. I could continue with this, but I think you get my vibe. I have different expectations for different movies. With The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I just wanted to have fun and I had fun. For the most of the movie, anyways. I'll get to the parts of the movie where I didn't have as much fun in a second. But I think the big reason why I did have fun with this movie is that our two main leads, Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, had a lot of fun in their roles. Cavill played a CIA agent and Hammer played a KGB agent. They started the movie as enemies and before too long they are forced to team up to stop our villain and they both hate that. The chemistry between both of them as they constantly banter and try to one-up the other is rather amazing.

More on these two. Being honest, before this movie I wasn't the biggest fan of Henry Cavill. I didn't think he was a bad actor, but he just never did much that was super impressive to me. Stardust is like the only exception. And now that I've brought this up, I'm sure you're all dying for me to address the big, huge, fat elephant in the room. And I will. I hated him in Man of Steel. I think he was a horrible Superman and did a disgrace to Christopher Reeve. HOWEVER. I had a bit of an epiphany while watching him in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. His awful performance as Superman wasn't his fault. Had Zack Snyder and company gotten the tone and feel of Man of Steel right, that being a light-hearted, fun Superman like the Richard Donner movies instead of the depressing, dark piece of crap that we got, Henry Cavill would've been the perfect choice. He had a lot of fun playing the lead role in The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and I actually saw a lot of Christopher Reeve in him during this movie. Also, a lot of people hated the recent Lone Ranger remake with Armie Hammer. I was one who actually loved that movie and I thought Armie Hammer did a great job in that, so I was excited to see him in this and he also did a great job. We can roll our eyes at the fact that the movie cast a British guy to play an American and an American guy to play a Russian, but it's whatever. Both pull of their accepts quite well, so that didn't bother me. It's just kinda funny that they decided to go that direction.

I also want to talk about the girl in this movie, Alicia Vikander. I have no idea where she came from, but she's everywhere this year. Previous, she's been in movies like Anna Karenina, A Royal Affair, and Seventh Son, but those weren't exactly the types of roles that would get people to remember her name. Then Ex Machina happened. She totally blew everyone away in that movie as our artificially intelligent robot Ava and I'm one of them. That was an Oscar-worthy performance. Apparently that's not the only Oscar-worthy performance she's going to give us this year. I go to this site called where they do year round Oscar predictions for every category. In the acting categories, they have a top 40 for each category. Right now in their best actress category, Alicia Vikander is on there FOUR times. She's their current predicted winner for The Danish Girl and is also on there for Ex Machina, The Light Between Oceans, and Tulip Fever. Moral of the story is that if you don't know this girl yet, you should educate yourself because she is fantastic. As far as her role in the movie we are talking about, this isn't anything that the Academy is going to notice, but yet this isn't the type of movie that would get any consideration regardless of how good it was, so it's an irrelevant point, but she does have a whole heck of a lot of fun right along with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, so for me it shows her versatility as an actress and makes me even more excited to see her in her other roles.

And now let me talk about the point in the movie where I stopped having fun. During the first half of the movie, I didn't really have any qualms. Like I said earlier, I had fun. But then in the second half I felt they got very experimental with how they shot all the action scenes. They use a whole lot of different camera angles and editing techniques in the movie and they don't really stick with one particular style and it all got really distracting for me. Also, they used a lot of flashbacks in the movie. I'm not talking about flashbacks to events that happened in the distant past, but rather they would skip forward like ten minutes and after going forward for about a few minutes, they'd go back and show what happened in those ten minutes. That didn't really work for me. It was fine for a couple of the scenes towards the very end, but for the most part it felt unnecessary and annoying. It was just one of the many stylistic choices that they experimented, but couldn't settle with. So yeah, the final part of the movie felt all over the place and thus the movie got less and less fun as we went on. It also led to a very unsatisfying conclusion and thus this felt like a little bit of wasted potential.

Overall, my recommendation for this movie would be that it is worth checking out if you've already seen the other big movies that are currently in theaters and you just want to go have fun for a couple of hours. However, if you haven't seen Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation or Ant-Man yet, don't choose to see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. instead of those. It's like if you went to a steakhouse and were offered a free meal on the house and you ordered the smallest steak on the menu. That wouldn't make any sense. If you can have something bigger and better for the same price, why wouldn't you go for it? I had fun with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. But I had a lot more fun with Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation and Ant-Man. So make sure you have your movie priorities straight. Also, if you aren't a huge movie-goer, this is one that I think you could afford to skip. Save your money for something like Spectre. They are smartly trying to advertise this as something that is as good as Bond, but it's simply not. But you could do a lot worse as this is leagues and bounds ahead of Pixels and Fantastic Four in terms of quality. My grade for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is a 7/10.

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