Tag Archives: the man from U.N.C.L.E.

Failed Critics Podcast: Ghostbusters

ghostbusters

Welcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast, where the traditionally entirely-male line-up has been replaced, with hosts Stephanie Norman and Olivia Hughes, and their guests Andrea Brooker and Brianna Plank – and if anything, it’s an improvement over the originals.

The re-imagined, re-booted, re-failed foursome review the comedy film that seemingly hasn’t been able to escape public opinion over the past fortnight (for both good and bad reasons) – that is Paul Feig’s Ghostbusters, starring Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon, Leslie Jones and Chris Hemsworth.

The Ghostbusters appreciation doesn’t stop there for one of the guests, as prior to our main review, Brooker enthused over fan-doc Ghostheads, which is available on Netflix. As, coincidentally, is the latest Netflix Original, the sci-fi fantasy drama Stranger Things, which receives heaps of praise from both Steve and Owen. We’re all about the praise on this episode apparently as Brian also lavishes some on Guy Ritchie’s spy-comedy from last year, The Man From UNCLE.

There was even room this week for the group to discuss the Emmy nominations and for Steve to not mess-up the quiz!

LISTEN VIA ACAST FOR THE MOST INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE

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US Box Office Report: 11/09/15 – 13/09/15

The Perfect Guy charms his way to the top, The Visit proves surprisingly prosperous, $2 million In Heaven is better than $1 million In Heaven, Sleeping With Other People is a rather lucrative past-time, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Ah, September.  That time of the year where nothing much of interest comes out, yet the box office does all kinds of weird things, regardless.  Specifically, it’s about time for a low-budget thriller of questionable value fronted by big name black actors and actresses to hold onto the top spot for a week.  Yes, following in the footsteps of last year’s No Good Deed and 2009’s Obsessed, The Perfect Guy fought its way to a hard-earned victory with $26 million in ticket sales from just over 2,000 theatres, making this the fifth straight week in a row that a film predominately starring black actors and actresses has taken the top spot – after Straight Outta Compton’s three-peat and War Room’s surprising victory last week – which is news that Hollywood should really pay attention to.

It wasn’t always so certain for The Perfect Guy, however.  Much like the movie industry itself, audiences decided to actually give M. Night Shyamalan one more shot – seriously, the fact that, despite everything post-Signs, this guy keeps getting funding for movies is proof that Hollywood is either incredibly forgiving or is just giving him more rope to embarrass himself with as a cruel joke – and turned up to see The Visit despite, y’know, it being a modern-day Shyamalan movie.  In any case, it did surprisingly decently, with $25 million in ticket sales, just barely losing to another crappy thriller.  Like, I said, interesting stuff happens on this chart in September, but that doesn’t mean that the films are actually any good.

Meanwhile, we have more terrible movies designed to suck money from devout Christians’ pockets, because there’s gotta be another God’s Not Dead sometime soon, right?  This month’s attempt to shamelessly shake down its target audience is 90 Minutes In Heaven, starring Hayden Christensen for reasons that are both incredibly self-explanatory and incredibly unclear.  Presumably because the audience still feels betrayed by the film’s lead actor having slaughtered the younglings all those years ago, this latest Lifetime-Movie-Disguised-As-Worthwhile-Entertainment did not take with moviegoers, and the film managed a pathetic 9th place and $2 million from 800 screens.

In Limited Release Land, the big story was the director of the criminally-underseen Bachelorette Leslye Headland’s second film, Sleeping With Other People.  Riding some strong press from those who like it, and opening in the always profitable New York/Los Angeles scenes, the rom-com managed an excellent $103,125 opening on 5 screens, for a per-screen average of $20,625.  It was not the only success story this weekend, mind.  Meet the Patels, a documentary about an Indian-American trying to use traditional Indian dating methods to find the woman of his dreams and it looks way more charming than that sounds trust me, had a similarly strong 5 screen opening, with $75,597 for a $15,119 per-screen average.  Finally, A Brilliant Young Mind – released in the UK as X+Y and which I have heard from a very trustworthy friend of mine is complete garbage – opened on 3 screens to a very respectable $36,000.


the perfect guy

This Full List is pretty baffling to me, so I’m not going to do a pun intro.  Just see for yourself.

Box Office Results: Friday 11th September 2015 – Sunday 13th September 2015

1] The Perfect Guy

$26,700,000 / NEW

This… seems to be becoming a thing.  Terrible mid/low-budget thrillers about men stalking women, usually with a non-white lead, I mean.  No Good Deed, The Boy Next Door, now this.  I’m all for diversity in films, but this… I’d prefer that this not become a trend.  Or, at least, I’d prefer that good versions of this movie become a trend, if they must become a trend.

2] The Visit

$25,690,000 / NEW

The words “rapping child” keep getting brought up around this movie, so absolutely no way am I ever seeing this.  White people rapping is often rather cringeworthy as is – non-professionally, I mean – I do not see how making said White rapper a young boy is supposed to improve this situation.

3] War Room

$7,400,000 / $39,188,327

This is what made it to number 1 last weekend?  This?  This looks awful!  In fact, no, it looks worse than awful, it looks absolutely incompetent.  Look, American members of the Christian faith: I realise that you’re not well-served by the film industry, but hold yourselves up to higher standards, for crying out loud!  If you tell the film industry that you’re going to turn up to any old crap, they’re going to keep making absolute crap.

4] A Walk In The Woods

$4,620,099 / $19,877,024

This looks… pleasant.  I really got nothing else, folks.  Not until I get to see it this weekend, I mean.

5] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

$4,150,000 / $188,172,518

Wait, what?!  This is still here?  And this highWHY?!  I mean, it was OK, I guess, but it wasn’t particularly brilliant and certainly not “Hell yes, Week 7 showing!” material.  Why are you all still seeing this movie and, more importantly, where the fuck were all of you when Edge of Tomorrow was flopping painfully towards a way-too-low $100 million domestic?

6] Straight Outta Compton

$4,090,000 / $155,712,600

Thanks to this sudden frustratingly crippling inability to write whilst I’m at home, I never did get around to properly reviewing Straight Outta Compton [Owen: although Brooker did for Failed Critics].  So, Short Version: as a film, it’s brilliant – exceptionally acted, well-directed, very decently paced, only occasionally lapses into Walk Hard self-parody, glad that it had a socially relevant message instead of just “N.W.A. were great”.  Outside of that, though, it’s deeply problematic – it feels rather whitewashed, the misogyny is uncommented on, and the homophobia is suspiciously almost non-existent.  In a way, I get the intention – if it depicted something like Dre’s woman-beating tendencies, then that risks dragging the audience’s attention and discussion away from the issue of institutionalised racism – but it still feels disingenuous and wrong, especially for this story.

In other words, it feels like a film version of N.W.A.’s work and of rap music and culture in general, something deeply problematic yet at the same time amazing and a force for some kind of good.  And, therefore, I love it in the same way I love rap music.

7] No Escape

$2,879,000 / $24,155,935

This bullshit is racist.  Just wanted to remind you of that.

8] The Transporter Refueled

$2,700,000 / $13,343,496

You can hear more in-depth thoughts on last week’s Screen 1 – which also includes my going nuclear on Me and Earl and the Dying Girl for those of you who like that sort of thing – but I surprisingly had fun with this one.  Ed Skrein’s ‘tough guy’ voice is really grating, and the film really misses Statham’s effortless charisma, but I still had some fun regardless.  Nothing great, nothing special, but some decent fun nonetheless.

9] 90 Minutes In Heaven

$2,160,911 / NEW

Remember when Hollywood tried to make Hayden Christensen a star?  Fun times, fun times…

10] Un Gallo con Muchos Huevos

$1,900,000 / $6,667,352

…you know what, I’m just going to embed the trailer for this one and let you be the judge.  I genuinely can’t decide whether this looks charming and somewhat fun, or the worst animated thing that has ever happened.

Dropped Out: The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Sinister 2, Inside Out

Callum Petch is gonna find out, he’s gonna get low.  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

US Box Office Report: 14/08/15 – 16/08/15

Audiences head straight into Compton, The Man From U.N.C.L.E.’s cover is blown, Mistress America takes home a Participation Award, and Other Box Office News.

by Callum Petch (Twitter: @CallumPetch)

Surprising absolutely nobody who is at least somewhat aware of popular culture, Straight Outta Compton is your new box office number 1.  Having said that, though, I don’t think anybody was prepared for just how much of a success the thing would be.  You see, Straight Outta Compton didn’t just take first place with ease, it did so with $56 million, almost $40 million more than the second place film managed.  That’s an absolute domination, a ridiculous opening for a non-sequel/franchise movie, and an utterly sensational opening for a film in August which is typically a complete dead zone at the box office.  I’d sit here and make terrible N.W.A, “Forgot About Dre”, and “It Was A Good Day” puns but, honestly, I’m too gobsmacked at the ridiculous success to make puns.  That’s just amazing.

Similarly surprising was the complete non-performance of The Man From U.N.C.L.E..  Perhaps due to a combination of an off-putting marketing campaign, that I really liked if nothing else, and tepid reviews, which are mostly wrong as you’ll find out in my own review later in the week, Guy Ritchie’s latest adventure in Hollywoodland face-planted right out of the gate.  Losing the battle for second place to Mission: Impossible quite handily, The Man cried U.N.C.L.E. – eh? Eh? EH?! – and bowed out for the weekend with only $13.5 million.  Nice to see that the Warner Bros. “funding off-beat and often great blockbusters with loads of money only to see bugger-all people turn up to watch” streak is still intact, if nothing else.

Whilst we’re still affixing our eye to the Top 10, let’s briefly check back in with everyone’s favourite complete and total catastrophic failure, Fantastic 4.  After failing to achieve the number 1 slot last week and earning roughly half of what it was projected to, the film continued its magnificent spiral of humiliation with a near 70% drop between this past weekend and opening weekend.  Enjoy looking at this one, folks.  This is the kind of old-school catastrophe that modern Hollywood was supposedly designed to completely avoid.  It’s a beautiful sight, like a unicorn grazing underneath a double rainbow.

In the realm of limited releases, Noah Baumbach’s second film this year, Mistress America, did surprisingly poorly.  I mean, sure, we’re talking very relatively when I say that $94,000 from 4 theatres is poor.  But Baumbach usually has much better openings than this.  Hell, he already had one such opening earlier this year when While We’re Young opened to $227,688 from 4 screens, whilst his last collaboration with Greta Gerwig, 2013’s Frances Ha, opened to $137,398 from 4 screens.  Maybe, just maybe, audiences are getting sick of movies about annoying self-obsessed New Yorkers.  Wouldn’t that be something?  Meanwhile, the Jemaine Clement-starring People Places Things Nouns got off to a poor start on 19 screens with just $31,000 for a per-screen average of $1,632.


straight outta compton

The jury has found this Full List guilty of being a redneck, white bread, chickensh*t motherf*cker.

Box Office Results: Friday 14th August 2015 – Sunday 16th August 2015

1] Straight Outta Compton

$56,100,000 / NEW

Man, I really cannot wait for this!  That’s literally all I’ve got for this one, since I haven’t managed to listen to Dre’s “Compton” yet – that’s a job for tonight, before anyone asks.  I will note, however, that an opening like this is yet another sign that mid-budget stories about non-White protagonists, starring a non-White cast and aimed at predominately-non-White audiences are a lucrative and untapped market.  A sign that, as per usual, will most likely go stringently ignored by Hollywood.

2] Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation

$17,000,000 / $138,137,000

Man From U.N.C.L.E. outclasses this movie in every respect.  Just thought I’d let you know that.

3] The Man From U.N.C.L.E.

$13,535,000 / NEW

Saw this on Friday and the review will be up on my site tomorrow – in the meanwhile, Brooker’s got a good review of it up here.  Short version: probably the best non-Fury Road blockbuster I’ve seen all year.  Lot of fun, lots going on under the hood, and impeccably acted with Alicia Vikander nearly running away with the film from everyone else.  It’s the first time that “Guy Ritchie, Hollywood Director” has made sense to me, and not coincidentally is the first time he was allowed a crack at the script, so it’s a shame that the film’s box office failure sadly guarantees that we’ll be getting “Hired Gun, Guy Ritchie” for the next few years.

4] Fantastic 4

$8,000,000 / $41,961,000

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (*continues like so for another 15 minutes*)

5] The Gift

$6,500,000 / $23,577,000

Don’t even talk to me about the ending of this.  Seriously, it’s been well over a week and I still can’t make up my mind on it.  Or, more specifically, I can’t stop trying to rationalise an objectively disgusting and too-far ending as honestly kind of brilliant.  Jackson noted that I basically already summed it up when I described the whole film as “very Fincher”, but I still can’t let this go.  If nothing else, at least The Gift has stuck with me a week later, unlike the very vast majority of films that have been released so far this year.

6] Ant-Man

$5,517,000 / $157,568,000

Emily Blunt for Carol Danvers, please!  Seriously, it’s perfect casting.  She’s got the acting chops, Edge of Tomorrow proved that she can be a walking badass when required, she’s more than willing to dye her hair blonde if that’s necessary, she was already going to be Black Widow until Fox forced her to do Gulliver’s Travels instead, and she’s English which continues the superhero movie tradition of casting British leads in American hero roles!  Come on, it’s a no-brainer!

I mean, unless the Bond producers do the right thing and cast her as the next Bond.  Either of these two things happening will satisfy me.

7] Vacation

$5,330,000 / $46,852,000

Once I’ve finished my Man From U.N.C.L.E. review after this, I’ll be sitting down to watch the original National Lampoon’s Vacation in preparation for Friday.  Not Tuesday, what’s the point of going to a Cineworld Unlimited Screening for a film that’s out about 48 hours later and looks terrible?  Ugh, Unlimited screenings have been going down the drain recently…

Hmm?  “The next one’s Sicario, two weeks before its UK release”?  Oh, Cineworld!  Have I ever told you how much I love you?

8] Minions

$5,200,000 / $312,969,000

A round of applause for Universal Studios for becoming the fastest studio to break $2 billion domestic in a single year, besting Warner Bros.’ previous record by a good 4 months!  That’s what happens when you release a whole load of good films that people want to see… and are also part of really successful franchises.  OK, I guess we should probably temper that applause slightly, this was basically already predetermined by merely looking at that release schedule.

9] Ricki and the Flash

$4,570,000 / $14,656,000

Oh.  Well, err, bye Ricki, I guess.

10] Trainwreck

$3,800,000 / $97,919,000

Review will be up on my site on Wednesday.  Gonna keep my opinion under-wraps until then, in a failed attempt to build up suspense and intrigue.  I will, though, let slip that I can now happily count the number of good comedies released this year on 3 fingers.  That is also a sentence that looks incredibly depressing typed out like that.  This goddamn year…

Dropped Out: Pixels, Southpaw

Callum Petch is nine exits north of Las Vegas.  He now writes for his own website (callumpetch.com).  Follow him on the Twitters (@CallumPetch)!

The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

by Andrew Brooker (@Brooker411)

The Man From UNCLE“For a special agent, you’re not having a very special day are you?”

After reviewing Mission: Impossible 5 the other week, and being thought of as extremely old by a certain podcast host who invited me to share my memories of the M:I TV show because he’s not old enough to remember it, I promised myself I wouldn’t write my The Man From U.N.C.L.E review with stories of my love of the TV show and watching it on random afternoons with my nan. But seeing as no one else I know seems to have ever heard of the adventures of Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (a name I will only type once, because boy that squiggly red line is long), I am also around 97% sure that I may have just read a Wikipedia article about the TV show and dreamt about actually watching it.

So I will absolutely not be talking about how U.N.C.L.E ran for four years in the mid-sixties, slowly going from mostly serious espionage to slapstick parody. I won’t be able to tell you that it starred Robert Vaughn; a lot of people know him nowadays from BBC’s Hustle and David McCallum; who, apart from other sixties TV shows, I only know him from The Great Escape (apparently, he’s in NCIS, but as we’ve established, I’m not actually THAT old!) and I certainly have no idea about the show and how it turned the world’s Cold War fears on its head by teaming up a Russian and an American agent working for a spy organisation run by a British intelligence officer who, between them, would rescue innocent people caught in the crossfire and save us all when the bad guys tried to take over the world.

Another in a long line of old TV and film favourites being remade for modern audiences, Guy Ritchie’s The Man From U.N.C.L.E sees Man of Steels Henry Cavill and The Lone Ranger’s Armie Hammer buddying up as the unwitting multi-national spy super team; put together mere hours after they’ve been at each other’s throats in 1960’s Berlin trying to extract a valuable asset in the worlds continuing nuclear arms race.  Cavill’s Napoleon Solo, a suave ex-con recruited into the CIA because of his extraordinary skills as a professional thief, has found himself on the wrong side of the Berlin Wall on a mission to get Gaby Teller (the always brilliant Alicia Vikander) the daughter of an important nuclear scientist out of Germany and back to his superiors where she can help locate her missing father.  At the same time, the pair are being chased by Hammer’s almost super-human Russian agent, Illya Kuryakin (ok, I’ll type it twice, but that’s it) a man on the exact same mission, but has been briefed on Solo’s background and given orders to kill him if necessary. Escaping by the skin of his teeth, Solo leaves the Russian embarrassed and unsuccessful in his mission and goes on about his evening of being suave, sophisticated and charming.

Now teamed up, the spy’s must use every means at their disposal, including Gaby Teller, to stop an impending nuclear disaster, dismantle a shady criminal organisation and, if at all possible, not kill each other in the process. 

In true 1960’s TV and film fashion (or so I’ve heard, I’m not very old after all, practically a foetus), the pair and their ward trot about Europe undercover in an attempt to get to the bottom of a mystery that could easily bring about the end of the world.  Chasing terrorists and crazy German doctors alike, the pair find themselves woven into a web of cold-war conspiracies and half-truths as they galavant around the most fashionable time in our recent history to bring justice to he world.  Constantly trying to one-up each other, working together while trying very hard to work separately in the most mismatched buddy cop movie you’ll see this year, the reluctant partners edge closer to the mysterious organisation, their polar opposite skill-sets begin to compliment each other and what started as a forced partnership slowly develops into the perfect crime fighting duo.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E does a splendid job playing to its weaknesses.  It was always considered a bit of a James Bond rip-off (fun fact: Bond creator Ian Fleming was involved in the creation of U.N.C.L.E) and Ritchie takes that feeling and runs with it. Unlike films of its ilk like Mission: Impossible or The Saint, we are not treated to a modernisation of the U.N.C.L.E story. Instead, the filmmakers decided to keep it the film rooted in the show’s 1960’s heritage and that not only separates it from the rest of the films of this particular variety, but fits perfectly into the film making style of its director. Anyone that’s seen Ritchie’s early work, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels or Snatch, will easily recognise the same film style in U.N.C.L.E all these years later.

The bright colours and high class fashion of the idolised 1960’s is on full display here; with Guy Ritchie and his production crew’s attention to detail working wonders in transporting us back fifty years and allowing us to bask in the light of the film’s transcontinental setting. Invoking everything from early TV spy shows like the movie’s inspiration to the Moore and Connery Bonds that we all know and love, Man From U.N.C.L.E is a splendid two hour romp through the espionage thrillers of the past, seen through Guy Ritchie’s Instagram filter directing style and our own rose-tinted memories of the sixties.

I’ve read reviews since I left the cinema that slate U.N.C.L.E for its lack of star power and direction. I don’t think I could disagree more. Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer may not be the world’s biggest stars or the kind of names you can put on a poster to guarantee box office numbers, but they do a brilliant job of bringing Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin (DAMMIT!) to the big screen and while their star power may not be that of Tom Cruise or George Clooney, one could very easily argue that neither was Daniel Craig before he was bond, but look at him now.  Cavill’s suave and slick American thief is the perfect partner for Hammer’s hard-as-nails Russian sledgehammer and together the pair form a formidable team in the struggle to keep the world safe.

Don’t let the naysayers put you off. The Man From U.N.C.L.E is a great way to spend a couple of hours.  It’s brilliant fun, it’s the most un-blockbuster-y blockbuster we’ll see this summer and I would gladly go and watch it again tomorrow if I didn’t have such a busy schedule of afternoon naps and filling my cardigan pockets with Werther’s Originals to tackle.