Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tent-pole Sitting

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: adapted from the TV series created by Sam Rolfe by Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram, Jeff Kleeman, and David C. Wilson; directed by Guy Ritchie; starring Henry Cavill (Napoleon Solo), Armie Hammer (Illya Kuriakin), Alicia Vikander (Gaby), Hugh Grant (Waverly), and Jared Harris (Sanders) (2015): Enjoyable spy romp set in the early 1960's would probably have been better served had the producers gone with another title. Not many people remember the TV series from the 1960's. Heck, the movie itself doesn't bother explaining the title until the last five minutes.

Nonetheless, Guy Ritchie seems to have a lot of fun with period detail and European settings -- it's more like a James Bond movie from the 1960's than any Bond film has been since that time. Henry Cavill as American spy/super-thief Napoleon Solo plays suave/smarmy very well, and Armie Hammer is surprisingly good playing stolid, occasionally psychotic KGB strongman Illya Kuriakin. The plot involves a nuclear threat to both the Soviet Union and the United States, so the spies have to team up. Yes, it's a origin story for a TV series almost no one remembers. The eternal quest for a tent-pole series based on a property a studio already owns continues. I'm pretty sure tepid box office ensures this series won't continue, but it's far from being a disaster. Recommended.

Captain America: Civil War: based on characters and situations created by Joe Simon, Jack Kirby, Mark Millar, Stan Lee, and others; written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely; directed by Anthony and Joe Russo (2016): Fast-moving, crowded film pits lots of Marvel super-heroes against lots of other Marvel super-heroes. The movie stays moderately zippy as it leaps from location to location. It also manages to bring Spider-man into the main Marvel Cinematic Universe in fairly rousing fashion. 

Things go on about one super-hero battle too long, in part because the best part of the whole movie occurs during that second-to-last battle as the movie goes all-out comic book. Boy, though, the Vision's costume is terrible. If nothing else, the film suggests that Marvel's Damage Control comic, in which super-powered cleaners clean up the aftermaths of super-battles, should be turned into a movie franchise. Stat. Recommended.

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