Movie Review: The Man from Uncle – A Fun Exciting Romp That Redefines The Espionage Movie

hero_TheManFromUNCLE_2015_1  - 25AUG2015

I have to admit I was a bit worried when I saw the Man from U.N.C.L.E. coming so soon on the heels of a Mission Impossible release. Much like Mission Impossible. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a spy movie adapted from a popular TV show. Unlike Mission Impossible, I never saw the show. If I had, I probably would have noticed how truly different the two films are.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is centered around the CIA in the early 60s. It has the bright, playful technicolor feel that was so popular in the 60s, setting it off as different from the beginning. Henry Cavill plays Napoleon Solo, a former master-thief blackmailed by the CIA (represented by a nasty-raspy Jared Harris) into becoming a secret agent. Cavill is a debonair womanizer who wears thousand dollar suits and delivers smart aleck lines with perfect timing. He’s a play on old school James Bond, but with a bit less tension. He’s partnered up with Illya Kuryakin, a former KGB agent who has flipped sides in order to fight a nuclear armed organization.

The characters were caricatures but in this movie, that’s a good thing. The whole thing has a bit of a cartoony feel and it’s pretty clear that Guy Richie was having a lot of fun playing with the clichés. It’s a movie that celebrates the cliché to the highest order, making it clear that’s it’s laughing at itself.

the-man-from-uncle-670 - 25AUG2015

12-the-man-from-u-n-c-l-e-armie-hammer-henry-cavill - 25AUG2015

This is a hard thing to pull off, but they managed to do so pretty cleanly. The movie hits just about every major cliché an action franchise can, from love interest in trouble, to mismatched buddy comedy, to evil genius bent on world domination. This is all done in a tongue in cheek style that tells you the makers knew exactly what they were doing and still managed to give it a newer twist.

Much of that had to do with the talent of the leads, both of which were played true to character. While I think the female lead could have been done better, the two males pretty much define the word “mismatched”. It’s like the odd couple joined the CIA.

I do have to say this is a clear attempt to create a new franchise, and I really don’t think that’s necessary. While a good movie, the gimmick will feel tired a second time around. It’s a joke that’s hilarious the first time you heard it, but not so great the second.

That’s not to say that this movie isn’t worth the watch. It’s a fun exciting romp that redefines the espionage movie and makes fun of the genre at the same time. The retro 60s feel added something special to the movie and the clever use of color gave this movie a vibrant, stylish feel.

It’s a fun movie, with great characters and an easy to follow premise. While it’s clearly been done and timed in order to capitalize on the success of the Mission Impossible franchise, it doesn’t feel like the same thing. It’s a new twist on an old genre.

WE GAVE IT: 3.5 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

3.5 stars

[youtube id=”4K4Iv_N9Nno” width=”633″ height=”356″]

image004  - 25AUG2015

Movie Review: Box Trolls (2014) – Intelligent Animation with an Adorable Weirdness

The Boxtrolls Movie Image Gallery

 

The Box Trolls have been creeping me out since I was a child, which is why I was hesitant to see them. But as a parent, I feel responsible to review other children’s movies that I think parents might be dragged in too. It is my duty as a reviewer… no matter how much those friggen things might haunt my nightmares.

In this twisted horror movie, an innocent orphan boy named Egg is raised by a family of terrifying monsters made out of cardboard. Ok, so that’s my personal bias shining through. I can’t help it, these things really used creep me out. I don’t know why. When I was a kid, the book that this was based on, “Here Be Monsters” by Alan Snow was enough to give me nightmares for a week.

But something amazing happened when this came to the big screen. I no longer found the Box Trolls terrifying. In fact, they were surprisingly charming. The characters are almost something out of a Dickens novel, with the added weirdness that is simply adorable.

This team of editors had their work cut out for them and they did an admiral job. The stop-motion animation is completely fantastic. This weird, colorful world is creative, interesting and based on reality without being too realistic. Think along the lines of Nightmare Before Christmas in it’s strange, stop-motion take on an alternate universe.

The-Box-Trolls-2

the-boxtrolls-movie-still-19

 

Even the names of the characters are clever. The troll names are made of the things they’re made up of like Fish, Shoe, Oil Can, Egg, etc. They have a cheese based economy. It’s pretty much child centric world building at its best.

The story is well done and intriguing enough for adults with some potential digs at certain political parties. From Mr. Gristle (Tracy Morgan) who is using the Box Trolls as scapegoats to further his own political career, to the evil Archibald Snatcher (Ben Kingsley) who is intent on exterminating every last one of them, the bag guys are nefarious and surprisingly familiar.

This is one of those rare finds that’s actually enjoyable for adults as well. While it might be a bit scary for younger viewers, it’s still a fun, cute movie with a fish out of water twist.

Most enjoyable is Egg, the human adopted by the Box Trolls who really has no idea how humans interact with each other. Watching him trying to get along in the human world is sweet and hysterical.

It’s weird that I was ever scared of these things when I was little. Of course, part of that is on my mom for reading me a story about a group of monsters that steal children when I was five. But the more I got to know them, the more I got to like them.

It’s surprisingly political for such a simple movie, with a big focus on social standing and social climbing. It has a valuable moral and intelligent, but simplistic dialog. I’d dare call this the smartest animated film I’ve seen in a long time. If you are a parent, or even if you don’t have kids to drag you to this movie, Box Trolls is worth the watch.

WE GAVE IT: 4 Stars – Watch the Official Trailer and Official Movie Poster below!

4 stars

 

 

[youtube id=”Q2dFVnp5K0o” width=”633″ height=”356″]

the-boxtrolls-movie-poster-14