Tag Archives: sherlock holmes

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. – Review

31 Aug

Hollywood seems to be in a very nostalgic mood these past few years, what with all the remakes and reboots of movies and shows that newer generations may have never seen or heard of. It’s a nice idea, but it’s kind of being overloaded. Probably the strangest choice I’ve seen recently is Guy Ritchie’s newest film The Man From U.N.C.L.E. I say this because it was a show that was deeply rooted in the Cold War paranoia of the 1960s, even though it was a very light hearted, tongue in cheek kind of show. Of course, I trusted Ritchie’s skill with making this movie, and while it is far from being his best, it’s still an entertaining ride that breathes some colorful life during the end of the summer blockbuster season.

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The movie wastes no time getting started with American spy Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) on a mission in East Berlin to extract a woman named Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) and bring her over the Berlin Wall. During the mission, and unbeknownst to him, a KGB agent, Ilya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) is hot in his heels to stop him. What the two soon realize, is that they are being set up by their respective governments and soon Solo and Kuryakin are teamed up to stop an even bigger threat to both the Soviets and the Americans. This threat is a nuclear bomb being manufactured for a family of Nazi sympathizers, and the physicist building the bomb is Gaby’s estranged father. Now it’s up to Solo, Kuryakin, and Teller to gather all the information on this family as they can and stop them before they do serious damage to the world, and possibly start a war.

In 1963 when the television show was aired, it was pretty crazy to have an American and Soviet spy working together. It’s actually a really cool idea and made the stories seem more global. That being said, the show is incredibly dated, and while it is a lot of fun, it can be just as silly. What is really cool about this new adaptation of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. is that Guy Ritchie doesn’t try to make this a dark story with life ending drama and suspense that is almost too sharp. Negative. This film actually feels like a 2 hour long episode, but with different people of course. That may be a problem for some people who want to have something deeper to watch, but that’s just not going to be found here. This is light hearted summer fun.

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With Snatch and the Sherlock Holmes movies and the rest of Ritchie’s filmography, there’s one thing that is always present in every single one of his movies. Style. Lots and lots and lots of style. Then some more style, probably enough for three movies. Really, who best to mush together the vibes of the swingin’ sixties and the paranoia and fear of the Cold War? The colors in this movie really pop, but never does it feel like an exaggeration. There are certain scenes, however, where the style is exaggerated. The camera flies all over the place, the pictures spin and blend together, there’s split screen shots, and all of this combined with the music that any Guy Ritchie fan knows all too well.

Now, while this is a spy movie, it’s also a comedy. Cavill’s and Hammer’s chemistry is great, and it’s fun to see the two start their mission hating each other and grow closer to the spies that were scene in the original television show. The actors also have their characters down perfectly. Solo is pompous and snide, but also certainly likable while Kuryakin is a tough as nails Russian who’s weaknesses are revealed throughout the course of the movie. Seeing both of these people in scenes where they’re out of their element provides some of the most enjoyable parts of the film, even though some of the more straightforward jokes fall flat.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. feels like a much smaller blockbuster than most of the other movies to come out this summer, but it still provides a few hours of serious fun and a lot of laughs. Compared to SnatchSherlock Holmes, and even Rock ‘n’ Rolla, this film feels like one of the weaker movies made by Guy Ritchie, but that’s not to say that it isn’t quite good. It’s not necessarily action packed or thrilling, but it’s a fun ride into the vintage world of Cold War espionage, and one that doesn’t take itself to seriously.

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Mr Holmes – Review

3 Aug

Sherlock Holmes is arguably of the most well known and recognizable characters to grace any sort of media. Originally written in stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Holmes has been portrayed by many actors over the years. His most recent incarnations have been played by Robert Downey, Jr. in Guy Ritchie’s two films, Benedict Cumberbatch in the BBC show Sherlock, and now we have him played by Ian McKellen in Mr. Holmes. While still being about the world’s most famous private detective, this film is very different from what we have seen in books, movies, and television. This is a much more personal story that may also feature some of the best performances of the year.

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The year is 1947 and Sherlock Holmes (Ian McKellen), now age 93, has long since been retired and living far away from society in a farmhouse. Living with him is his housekeeper Mrs. Munro (Laura Linney) and her son Roger (Milo Parker) who understandably has a keen interest in the aged Holmes. While perfectly content keeping to himself and taking his bees in the backyard apiary, Holmes finds himself struggling with writing down the true events of his final case, which ultimately made him give up being a detective. As time goes on, Holmes finds his memory, which he had always considered his greatest asset, to quickly be fading due to what appears to be the onset of dementia. He finds help in the most unexpected of places, however, when he takes Roger on to be his protégé.

As the credits began to roll and the lights came up and everyone began shuffling out of the theater, I knew that I was going to have a lot to think about. Mr. Holmes is a much heavier movie than I was expecting it to be. Maybe I didn’t do enough research on it, but I kind of figured it would still be a movie about some sort of mystery. In a way, it still is, but it’s a mystery that’s already been solved. Instead, this film took me in a completely different direction, and the story I got was something special. Just the idea of the most observant detective there ever was struggling with memory loss and dementia is almost devastating to watch, especially since we’re dealing with such a well known character.

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Sometimes I see performances and I can almost visualize the Academy awards in my head. This is the case with Ian McKellen’s portrayal of Sherlock Holmes. McKellen perfectly captures the lack of human understanding that is usually seen with the character, but also adds a major dose of humanity which isn’t normally seen. Of course, this has a lot to do with the screenplay and the source material, but it’s McKellen that brings it to life onscreen. If he isn’t nominated for Best Actor this year, I’ll eat my elbow. I can also say the same thing about Laura Linney’s performance as well. It’s a lot more understated than McKellen’s, but it’s perfect for the role she’s playing.

Finally, to just top it all off, the look and the music in Mr. Holmes are both fantastic. Since the movie has three different plot points, there are quite a few locations that the story happens in. What I enjoyed watching was the contrast between Sherlock’s rural exile and the industrious, urban settings of London and Hiroshima. To match the gorgeous visuals, and also the excellent costume design, is a score by Carter Burwell, who has had extensive work in film having notably worked with the Coen Brothers on many of their films. This film is just a fine example of sight and sound, which is something that is probably experienced quite a bit, but rarely remembered.

I went into Mr. Holmes expecting to see a good movie, but I wasn’t expecting to see something that would end up being one of my favorite movies of the summer. Everything from the screenplay, to the visuals, to the design and the music all come together so perfectly to tell a deep and emotional story about one of history’s most beloved fictional characters. It may be a film that has slipped under the radar, especially with a lot of the other movies coming out this season, but Mr. Holmes is still one of my favorite films to come out this summer, and I’d also say one of my favorites so far this year.