*NEW* THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. REVIEW *NEW*

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Slick, cool, funny. Guy Ritchie is back with a bang!

In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill – Man of Steel) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer – The Lone Ranger) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.

I know that this was based on the original TV show BUT I’ve never seen it so I can’t make comparisons on Ritchie and writer Lionel Wigram’s (Sherlock Holmes) adaptation.

The first hour was action packed and reminded me of the spy movies of old. An elongated opening car chase ticked all the boxes (Even if it was hindered by shoddy CGI). It certainly injected the fun back into the spy genre. Now that the Bond films have gone in a darker direction, I felt the corny one liners and light humour was a much needed tonic. Giving the piece a nostalgia feel.

Cavill was fantastic as Solo. The more I watched him steal the show, the more I thought to myself, “Bond”. Despite playing an undercover CIA asset, he would have been a perfect replacement. The looks, the charm and the charisma. But alas, the Justice League has claimed him as the Man of Steel for the foreseeable future.

I loved the dynamic between the trio. They were perfectly cast. The fiery Alicia Vikander playing the reluctant mother to two sparring boys. Cavill and Hammer worked well together and made Solo and Kuryakin’s fractious relationship entertaining as hell. “This is not the Russian way!” It was good to see Hammer excel as ‘The Red Peril’ after the lacklustre Lone Ranger.

The quick witted exchanges and uneasy tension kept me going (Through some of the sillier moments) with the pair constantly trying to get one up on each other at every turn. From their overcompensating gadgets and hotel room bug stand-off to dressing Gaby (Vikander) for her cover -“The shoes won’t match. They don’t need to match”.

Vikander and Hammer had great chemistry as Gaby is reluctantly assigned to Kuryakin as his undercover fiancee. I just wish Vikander’s back story was more interesting. The story line involving her missing scientist father was a little weak. I loved how we only got tidbits of Solo and Hammer’s past.

Jared Harris was wasted in his small supporting role as Solo’s handler Adrian Sanders. He delivered yet another another mangled accent BUT at least this one was better than his Irish rendition in that horrific Poltergeist remake.

However, the second half of the film was where things went wrong. It was very clunky and disjointed. The tone was mismatched and took a much more serious turn that didn’t quite work. A highly macabre scene involving the pair bickering while their suspect was being roasted on an electric chair in the background was too much. Especially after the easygoing pace and playful banter.

And tragically, the pace did get hampered by the plot. And for all its “complexities”; the story was far too predictable. Typical guff involving Nazis and the Cold War. Go, figure! It killed a lot of the fun and momentum that had kept me entertained for 60-odd minutes. The inevitable double bluffing and backstabbing between the team got a little long at the tooth for me.

Elizabeth Debicki (The Night Manager) was wasted as the femme fatale Victoria Vinciguerra. She did her best with the role but was left in the background far too much. Only coming back for the frantic finale.

The same can be said for Hugh Grant (Four Weddings and a Funeral). God, he’s looking old. He wasn’t in it enough. His renowned bumbling and quick witted exchanges a welcome return; “For a special agent, you’re not having a particularly special day, are you?”.

The finale brought everything back into play and made up for a stumbling middle act with a mad dash explosive climax and (Hardly a spoiler!) it left things open for another. One sequel I would look forward to watching.

If Ritchie and co can just trim the length, get a better baddie then we’ll be good to go. BUT this is still worth a watch if you’re in for the mood for a cool spy caper with a great cast.

3/5

POLTERGEIST REVIEW

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Pol-turd-geist!

Consider my faith in horror movies extinguished.

Another horrific remake stains the silver screen and makes one unhappy and frustrated film goer throw in the towel.

A family whose suburban home is haunted by evil forces must come together to rescue their youngest daughter after the apparitions take her captive.

As soon as I heard that this cursed horror classic was being remade, I screamed “Why?” Why waste money and time on remaking films that didn’t need to be touched?

The trailers may have done their job of piquing my interest but they could have at least made an effort with the story, the characters, the scares and the actual film.

Hollywood must be scraping the bottom of the barrel. I just discovered that there is a Point Break remake due for release? Has the world gone mad? Can they not think of anything original or even remake a bad movie? I can think of hundreds. Apparently the studio heads can’t. Hell, they could remake the the majority of the horror films that were released this last year alone!

The original was a classic. Flawed but weird and, most importantly, creepy. This turgid affair was laughable. Seriously the audience were in tears. Not of fear but actual laughter.

The 3D gimmick was the only reason I gave this any points. It was still lazy and desperate but it worked. But compared to the bland acting and clichéd dialogue, of course it would.

Sam Rockwell “Rockwelled” the place up. He was probably the only saving grace. Shame he was barely in it. Kennedi Clements was also excellent as the adorable little Madison. Giving Heather O’Rourke a run for her money. Hell, she acted better than the rest of the cast.

Jared Harris’ performance was terrible. A prolific actor reduced to a parodic (Well, I should say moronic) role. The character Carrigan Burke was a joke. The silly videos promoting his highly televised paranormal TV show got a cheeky laugh. Poking fun at the Derek Acorahs of the world.

The only problem was that he completely killed any tension or suspense that the film desperately needed. He also seemed to forget that he was supposed to be Irish and then halfway through the film, he really thickened his accent up. It was comical for all the wrong reasons.

Plus he didn’t contribute anything to fighting the poltergeist. He just bellowed, “Leave this family!” and got sucked up in the wormhole when there was no need.

You know the film is failing when the best moment is a 3D demon squirrel flying at you out of the screen. You read that right. A 3D demon squirrel.

The clowns were creepy. BUT they were rushed into the mix far too quickly. Desperate for a quick fright. Sacrificing suspense for a naff scare. It had enough to scar anyone who may have a slight phobia of clowns but it was done so badly that I thought I was watching Scary Movie 2.

Also, why the clowns? What was the relevance? Nothing to do with poltergeists, cursed burial grounds, nothing. “Sometimes, son. People collect weird stuff”. Really? That’s it.

It didn’t help that the moment was ruined by young Griffin being dragged out of his room by a tree? Seriously. This all happened. A lazy Evil Dead gag that failed on all fronts. That aerial shot when the parents pull up on the drive to see him dangling from said tree was hilarious!

The house wasn’t even built on an Indian burial ground. Some passing reference poking fun at the original’s ridiculous premise may have been noted. But what the writers offered up in this monstrosity managed to make that a masterpiece. No curse or creepy backstory. Just some old cemetery that was dug up and moved away. Riiggghhhttt.

The bits that would have made you jump were flogged heavily in the trailers. If you were lucky not to see them, then you might have a jump or two. The endless screaming and corny exchanges were not even funny. Look. If you have a muddy corpse crawling out of the ground, you don’t stand there and scream at it! You bloody run!

Or even worse. Every time the family would survive an encounter or little fright, they would hug each other and say how sorry they are for being a useless father, daughter, son. Get out of the house!

What annoyed me was that there was a slow opening build up that had potential. The characters were actually given a little depth. Griffin battling his ongoing anxieties. Rockwell’s father struggling with money problems. But it went nowhere and didn’t matter by the end. A waste of time. Which summarizes my experience of this film.

The only scare people will get is the ticket price.

The horror, the horror!

1/5