Monday, September 28, 2015

Solo at the Movies: "The Man from U.N.C.L.E." at Cinemark Playa Vista

Theater Info:
Cinemark Playa Vista and XD
12746 W. Jefferson Blvd., Playa Vista
Cost: $9.50 for a matinee showing

Movie Stats:
Released 2015 (Spain)
American & British, in English (also Russian, German, & Italian, most of it translated, some of it not)
Director - Guy Ritchie
Stars - Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander

Plot Summary:
When a nuclear scientist goes missing, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Cavill) and KGB agent Illya Kuryakin (Hammer) are forced to team up together to stop a shadowy criminal organization from using the man’s knowledge to build weapons. Vikander co-stars as Gaby Teller, the missing scientist’s daughter.

Very mild blue language; violence (including torture); very brief female nudity (side boob only); heavily implied sexy times.

Bad Stuff:
The pacing is really strange. For example, did we really need to know about the bullying that the crazed torturer endured in his childhood? Couldn’t they have saved the stupid sob story and given us some more action instead? Also, that torture scene was way too long. I’m not saying that because it made me uncomfortable (it didn’t). I’ve seen far worse torture scenes. It was simply too long.

Speaking of action scenes, they’re sort of nonexistent. As in, a lot of the action happened off-screen or in a montage (except for chase scenes). You don’t really see Napoleon or Illya beat anyone up; it’s just implied that they have. I get that it’s not a James Bond movie, and I’m pretty sure it was a stylistic choice by the director (who also cowrote the script), but I found myself wondering if Cavill & Hammer suck at fighting and that’s why it was lacking.

Good Stuff:
The soundtrack is perfect.

Everything about it is gorgeous. The leads are all ridiculously good-looking. The clothes are amazing. I want to own everything that both Vikander and Elizabeth Debicki (as the Italian, Victoria) wore. The cinematography is exquisite. Never have I wanted so badly to visit Italy.

It has some very funny moments. My favorite was when Napoleon and Illya, two very 1960s era manly men, argued over women’s clothing. Illya, through clenched teeth: “It doesn’t have to match!” Me: ROFL.

The Verdict:
I liked it a lot. Because of the pacing issues, it felt a little long (it’s slightly less than two hours) and I found the lack of fight scenes a bit puzzling. Other than that, I thought it was pretty enjoyable. It’s sleek and stylish, exactly what you’d expect from a Guy Ritchie film. The story was pretty solid, if a bit cliche, and all of the performances were decent. As an aside, this is the third movie I’ve seen this year starring Vikander, and I have to say that I’ve developed a bit of a crush. I think I may have reached the “I’d watch anything with her in it” point. She sure exploded onto the scene rather suddenly, didn’t she? As to this movie, if you're looking for something fun, light-hearted, and mod, you should check it out.

I give it 4 stars.

About Cinemark Playa Vista:
When trying to find a nearby theater I hadn’t yet visited, I discovered this one. “I didn’t know there was a theater in Playa Vista,” I thought to myself. When I looked it up, the Google image showed a building under construction. “Must be an old photo,” I thought. That was a false assumption. While the cinema is finished, most of the shopping complex that it’s in is still under construction. There’s not much signage yet, so I was a bit confused and wandered around a little until I found the cinema (while construction guys stared at me without offering assistance). On the bright side, it looks like they’re going to charge for parking in their structure, but don’t have that set up yet, so I got to park for free. I appreciated that, since the theater was rather expensive. I’ve been in theaters just as nice or nicer and paid far less. Also, it was absolutely frigid in there. It’s been pretty hot here lately, so I was wearing a dress but brought a sweater. Still, I was so cold that I had to curl my legs up onto my seat so I could fully cover them with the skirt of my dress. Needless to say, I wasn’t a big fan of this cinema. I probably won’t be going back.


Patricia said...

What is Playa Vista?

My first action when I saw what you paid for a matinee was an eyebrow raise. That's a lot of cash.

I've heard very good things about this from my mother, and a work colleague in her 50s who was prepared to hate it (she watched the original series) and loved it. When you were talking about the action being off screen, I wondered if it had something to do with the PG rating. But perhaps not.

I think I've never seen a Guy Ritchie film. Just checked. I haven't. I went to the video store to rent Snatch one time, but it was checked out and I never saw it. And now that video store doesn't exist. I still miss Hollywood video.

And I'm rambling.

balyien said...

Playa Vista is a planned community south of where I live. Basically, Santa Monica is west of LA. Due south of us is Venice, then Marina Del Rey, then Playa Del Rey, which Playa Vista is part of. It's a pretty nice place.

Guy Ritchie directed one of my most favorite movies ever (Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) but I haven't liked everything he's done (Snatch is good too). His stuff is typically a lot more violent than this, and involves a great deal more blue language. I expected that this would be toned down, but still think the off-screen fights were a weird choice.