Sorry for the length, but I didn't have time to write a short blog.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The 60's in Style with the Return of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a 60's period, action/comedy based on the television series that ran from 1965 to 1968 and starred Robert Vaughn as Napolean Solo and David McCallum as Illya Kuryakin with Leo G. Carroll as the boss of U.N.C.L.E., Alexander Avery. U.N.C.L.E. stands for United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.

The original spun off twenty-plus novels, comic books, and a series called The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.  with Stefanie Powers as April Dancer (a direct nod to Bond) that was cancelled after one season.  There was also a release of eight feature films which were actually TV episodes that were re-edited with more adult themes, and there was at least one reunion TV movie made in 1983.  In pop culture, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. was conceived, in part,  by Ian Flemming so Solo's James Bond-like appearance, the wild contraptions, and the beautiful, "high fashion" women are no accident.  The pop culture realm of the 60's and early 70's were marked by shows and movies similar to The Man from U.N.C.L.E.  from Bond - James Bond to The Avengers to Derek Flint to I Spy to Matt Helm.

It is rumoured that the original Kuryakin character was supposed to be  a "one episode" character, but McCallum was so popular that he became a series regular and Solo's eventual partner.  There have even been a couple of references to McCallum's Ducky character looking like Kuryakin on NCIS.

So it is little wonder that Guy Richie, who directed the new movie version, had some hopes in resurrecting the series?  That probably won't happen since the new movie looks as if it is going to lose money.  This time round Solo is played by Henry Cavill and Kuryakin by Armie Hammer with Hugh Grant as Avery.  All fit their roles pretty well although McCallum was nowhere near the size of Hammer and Cavill is far better looking than Vaughn. The movie is a clear tribute to the original series.  It is over-the-top and the period look is near perfect.  Richie has even stylized the movie with the look of the 60's style cinema photography.

From the outset, if you didn't like the original series, you are probably not going to like the new movie.  It has all the pacing and some of the fun gadgets of the original.  I personally liked it, but I liked the original too.  Cavill even goes so far as to do a sort of original Napoleon Solo line delivery that was also used by Vaughn.  With the inclusion of the Girl from U.N.C.L.E., now named Gaby and played by Alicia Vikander,  the new U.N.C.L.E. is set to go.  Yes, I know.  Some aren't going to like the movie because of its very sixty's style, feel and cutting.  I admit, I found the split screen  a bit annoying in some of the action sequences, but I found them annoying when they were popular.  The movie has some great moments of tongue-in-cheek humor that were also the hallmark of this genre. One more's not a superhero movie.