Tag Archives: summer

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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Star Trek Into Darkness – Review

18 May

The Star Trek universe has been given so many movies and series throughout the years. The original Star Trek and all of the movies that went with it, the Deep Space Nine series, the Next Generation series and movies, and most recently reboots directed by sci-fi prodigy J.J. Abrams. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek was impressive and very entertaining, so I had pretty high hopes for the sequel. This time, the movie has completely exceeded my expectations in a way that I may have never seen before. I’ve seen a lot of movies in my time, and I can honesty say that this is one of the greatest films that I have ever seen.

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A year after the events of the previous film, Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine) of the Starship Enterprise has created quite a reputation for himself that doesn’t sit very well with his superiors. Spock (Zachary Quinto), despite his good relationship with Kirk, is constantly getting him into trouble in his reports and has more recently become more distant with his lack of feeling. All of this stops mattering once John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch), a former Starfleet agent, bombs a secret facility in London.  Traveling across the galaxy to reach Harrison, Kirk and his crew begin to realize that the stakes are higher than they could have imagined, and they may even find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy that could compromise Starfleet in its entirety.

The first thing that I need to mention is the incredible writing that this film has been given. There are a few monologues that tug at your heartstrings in a way that not many summer blockbusters can do. Most notably, Spock explaining his lack of emotion when it comes to death and Harrison giving a brief summary of his past sufferings. But what is this dialogue without the talent of the actors to back them up? Every single performer brings their A-game, especially Quinto’s dry line delivery which is the cause of most of the jokes in the film and Cumberbatch’s dire demeanor that makes him and easy villain to hate.

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This part may be a tad spoilerish if you haven’t seen the 2009 Star Trek film, but if you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Get on the ball. Anyway, in the previous film, a main plot point is a black hole creating an alternate time line which Spock (played by Leonard Nimoy) goes through to reach the Romulans he is trying to aid. Therefore, everything that is seen in these movies takes place in an alternate dimension. Pretty cool stuff, and to be expected with Abrams. This leaves a lot of room for experimentation with new ideas and old ones. Star Trek Into Darkness makes good use of older story lines and references, but changing them in a way where it is recognizable, but still different. This should please long time fans of the universe, but also not get in the way of people who aren’t quite as familiar.

Now how can I talk about a Star Trek movie without talking about the action and the technology. This movie is a space adventure in its most respectable form. Warp speed, different planets, space jumps, and Starfleet battles are just what I need in a film with Kirk, Spock, and the crew. The effects are top notch, but what has impressed me even more with these past two Star Trek movies are the sound design. Using space as the vacuum that it is, there are many explosions and noises that you would expect to be deafening (a la Star Wars and many, many other science fiction film), but Abrams instead mutes them and makes it quite the opposite of what you would expect. There is still noise, but not as in your face or loud. This is a brilliant idea that was used more in the previous film, but still has relevance in this one too. There is a moment when two characters are out in space, and for a second all you can hear is their breathing. This reminded me very much of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Star Trek Into Darkness was a fantastic film. I could put it high up as one of my favorite films, and I’m not just saying that because it’s fresh in my mind and I really enjoyed it. Objectively speaking, it is an excellent movie. There’s brilliant dialogue, character development, action, science fiction, and effects/sound design. This has surpassed the original in every sense and completely blew my mind. This is definitely my pick for the best film of the year thus far, but that can still change. I can’t say I really expect it to, though. Do yourself a huge favor and get your ass to the theatre to see Star Trek Into Darkness as soon as you possibly can.

Iron Man 3 – Review

8 May

It’s so nice to see old friends again, granted the old friends I’m talking about are characters in a Marvel movie. But you know what, I don’t think that’s so weird. Through all the Iron Man films, I’ve grown really attached to Tony, Pepper, James, and even Jarvis. Here they are again, all returning for the highly anticipated Iron Man 3, the kick starter of the summer movie season. If this movie is any indication of what the summer’s going to be like, then it’s gonna be great overall, with a very punishing disappointment…

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Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) hasn’t been doing so well since the events of The Avengers, which makes a lot of sense since he went into a wormhole to set off a nuclear bomb and save New York City. The stress and anxiety has also took a toll on the love of his life, Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow), who can’t seem to take the nervous outbursts and distance of Tony. Their world literally seems to come crashing down with the threat of a new global terrorist, the Mandarin (Sir Ben Kingsley), as bombs begin detonating all over America. Tony wages a one man war against the Mandarin, only to realize that his past is back to haunt him in the form of Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who adds another layer to the Mandarin threat that no one could have expected.

I could start with what I really enjoyed about the movie and how it had some of the best moments than any of the Iron Man movies to date, but I think I’m going to start with something else. Yes, this part will contain spoilers, but it is absolutely essential for me to get this off my arc reactor.

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Ok, so halfway through the movie, Tony Stark finds the Mandarin’s hideout and goes there to kick some terrorist ass. Cool, right? The first meeting! It would be cool, except it turns out that the Mandarin is some low life, junky actor hired by Aldrich Killian to distract the powers that be from his nefarious plot. So… the Mandarin’s a joke? Is that it? He’s not real? Killian’s not the Mandarin, although he has some traits that can be attributed to the Mandarin. The real one isn’t real at all. What in the world were they thinking? At first I couldn’t take this. It was all just too much to handle, but as the movie went on I kinda got used to it and thought it was a little clever. There’s still this taste in the back of my throat that I just can’t get rid of whenever I think about how the Mandarin gets treated.

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The rest of this movie is really intense, though. In fact, I’d say this is the most intense Avengers tie-in to date. There are parts in this movie that really pull on your heart strings and remind you how much you really care for these characters. I can guarantee you that you will forget how to breath during a couple of Iron Man 3‘s more intense moments. Shane Black is an accomplished director who has a knack of creating action films that are charged with humor, his most popular being the Lethal Weapon series. My personal favorite of his is Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. This movie is loaded with humor, even at the heaviest of moments just to remind us that Tony has it under control.

But he really doesn’t have it under control. The most effective scenes are the intimate moments of weakness that we very rarely see with Stark. The past three movies that he’s been in, he’s been the overconfident one who knows how to handle a situation. In Iron Man 3, there were times where I really didn’t think he was going to make it through this whole thing ok. That’s what makes this movie so good. Stark’s character is built to such a degree that I’m really curious where they’re going to go from here.

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Is Iron Man 3 better than the first? It just may be, if not, it’s very close. There’s only one glaring, obnoxious problem in the movie that I’m still very unsure of. The rest of the movie is top notch summer entertainment. I can’t really let one thing bring the entire movie down. Proportionally, that just doesn’t make sense. As a start to the summer blockbuster, it’s great and puts me right in the mood for the new Thor movie. Let’s keep these superheroes coming.