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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Cindy Prascik''s Reviews of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mr. Holmes

Dearest Blog: today it was off to the pictures for a pair of highly-anticipated (at least by me) titles: The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mr. Holmes.

Spoiler level here will be mild, nothing you wouldn't know from the trailers.

First up: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

An American C.I.A. agent and a Russian K.G.B. agent reluctantly team up to keep a nuclear bomb out of dangerous hands.

Ladies and gents, it will surprise exactly no one when I say I know nothing about the original Man from U.N.C.L.E. TV series, aside from the fact it's where Ducky from NCIS got his start. If you're looking for comparisons between this big-screen outing and its small-screen ancestor, I fear you'll have to look elsewhere.

On its own merits, the big-screen Man from U.N.C.L.E. feels like it can't quite decide what it wants to be. It's amusing, but not nearly funny enough to be called a comedy. It's a little too silly to sell its attempts at drama. There's some nice action, but none of the big stunts we've come to expect from great action pieces. In other words, it's a lot of "what might have been."

Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer are as good-looking a pair of guys as you'll find anywhere, perhaps cinema's most dashing double-leads since Newman and Redford. Unfortunately, Cavill has all the charisma of a used lunch bag, and Hammer (whom I adore, for the record) has been shoved into a role that never seems to fit. They have a few genuinely good moments together, but overall it seems a waste of two capable leading men.

Female lead Alicia Vikander is absolutely stunning and absolutely unremarkable in every other way. It's only when Hugh Grant turns up you feel like you've got someone who knows what to do with a feature film. As mentioned, the action is good fun at times, but nothing very exciting or new. There's espionage and double-crosses and triple-crosses and none of it is ever much of a surprise. Some of the locations are almost as pretty as Cavill and Hammer, but if I had to name the one thing I actually really, really loved about The Man from U.N.C.L.E., it'd be Daniel Pemberton's fantastic score.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. clocks in at 116 minutes and is rated PG13 for "action violence, some suggestive content, and partial nudity."

It's a passable couple hours of brainless summer fun, but, to be honest, if your cinema is still playing Mission: Impossible-Rogue Nation, you'd do better just to see that again.

Of a possible nine Weasleys, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. gets six.

Next on the docket, Mr. Holmes.

An elderly, failing Sherlock Holmes is haunted by a past blunder.

Dear Reader(s), every once in awhile, even *I* need a break from car chases and explosions, and this weekend my cinema was kind enough to accommodate with this well-regarded showcase for Ian McKellen.

Mr. Holmes is a pretty slow-moving vehicle; in the interest of making that not sound like a negative, we'll call it "deliberately paced." This movie is in no hurry to get anywhere, but that's not to say there's not plenty going on. A couple of old cases nag at the edges of Holmes' fading memory, and his declining health adds its own drama. McKellen and Laura Linney are expectedly great, but it's the youngster Milo Parker who steals the show, comfortably holding his own opposite his two decorated co-stars. It's a quietly intense film that will have no trouble holding your attention from start to finish.
Mr. Holmes runs 104 minutes and is rated PG for "thematic elements, some disturbing images, and incidental smoking."

A nice respite from shoot-em-up summer blockbusters, of a possible nine Weasleys, Mr. Holmes gets seven.

Until next time..

Somebody get me in the middle of that...STAT! :-)

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