The Man from U.N.C.L.E., 2015

This is a stylish 1960s-style spy picture with no pretense to anything but entertainment.  Never having had the pleasure of catching the television series by the same name, I must admit I have no benchmark to offer, but I certainly have a glowing opinion of it and a matching recommendation for it.

First things first:  the two guys, i.e., the CIA agent and the KGB operative are eye-candy.  But they’re more than strong jawlines and mesmerizing voices; they’re as dapper as they come in their Italian tailored suits and impeccable manicures, and know what they want and where they’re going.  The plot itself might have been a bit more convoluted than necessary but the super-snazzy and elaborately retro-looking period sets keep your attention span alive.  

Overall, well worth the price of admission.  If you have fun company, it definitely gets even better.

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Mission Impossible 3: Impossibly Good 

Mission Impossible 3: Impossibly Good   

Jurassic World, 2015

Twenty-two years later, we’re all set for another reboot, and dare I say it, we are not disappointed.  Only, everything’s slicker and faster and more spectacular.  There’s just enough of a mix of references and nostalgia and still some new ideas to make it work.  That very first shot of the park set to John Williams’ classic theme music is worth the price of admission, but thankfully, isn’t the only thing that puts a smile on your face.

There’s plenty of scares and chase scenes and creatures of every imaginable dinosaur-like species paired with the human Alpha, Chris Pratt, himself.  Despite the somewhat lengthy prelude to the action, I wish the suspense had been built up just a tad more.  But oh, well, we must survive as best we can, all things considered.  

But the most spectacular of all impossibilities is that the female lead played by an actress named Bryce Dallas Howard (I had to look her up and learned she is the daughter of the director Ron Howard), rescues the world — all two hours and three minutes long — in high heels.  If that doesn’t impress, I don’t know what will.  Because, when you see the chases on foot through swampy jungles and all sorts of impossible topography that she covers, you will know just what I mean!

Yet another summer blockbuster, and one that will most likely spawn a sequel in the near future — at least, as far as one can infer from the ending.  Although, I doubt fans will be made to wait another twenty-two years.  Just a guess, but I’d still bet good money on that.

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San Andreas, 2015

You really can’t be faulted for being surprisingly shaken-up with a spectacular disaster of a high magnitude even as you may or may not be moved with the shaky plot line.  

Well, there’s probably more puns where all those came from, but the fact is that this is what summer blockbusters are made of.  One must temporarily throw all logic and meaning to the winds, and enter a world of ‘what-if’ knowing fully well that this is what an indulgence of the mind would look like.  It would be rife with preposterous spectacles of mayhem and disaster; with over-the-top pandemonium; and with ridiculous complications of natural disasters counter-balanced with complications of relationships.

This is why we go to the movies, wouldn’t you say?!  

To get our adrenaline pumping even as we munch on that over-sized bucket of popcorn, and contemplate how love survives even the most horrendous of earthquakes.  Because in the final analysis, that’s the one thing that remains intact despite all else crumbling around you: love of family and the hope for new love in the aftermath of the earthquake.  If that doesn’t grab you, you are hopeless, indeed!

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Spy, 2015

So, she’s funny.  There’s no taking away from that well-established fact, and yet, a funny woman and a host of great actors does not a great movie make.  And perhaps the intent was never to make a great movie (that is just my expectation of every movie that I go to see!), but as far as I am concerned, they did succeed in delivering a spoof of a James Bond-esque story with action galore that technically falls into the “action-comedy” genre, I would say.

But if identifying the movie by genre is my great opener for a review, you know that doesn’t bode too well for the critique to come.  And quite frankly, I don’t think I have the interest to nitpick a movie just for its excessive, nay, obsessive use of profanity throughout.  That seems like too flimsy a reason, and yet, I can’t seem to jump on the bandwagon that is showering praises for the actors and the movie in general.  As far the actors go — and they’re a few well-known ones — they’re all quite funny, just like Melissa McCarthy, but the fact remains that the script was written solely with Ms. McCarthy in mind, and Ms. McCarthy does not disappoint in that she has a flair for the slapstick as much as the understated.  

If you’ve ever wondered how movie franchises are born, look no further.  I’ll bet good money there’ll be more where this came from.  But when the next one does, I won’t be seeing it on opening night; perhaps not until it comes out on Netflix.  Or something.

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San Andreas: Last Family Event of the Weekend 

San Andreas: Last Family Event of the Weekend 

  

Far From the Madding Crowd, 2015

Having read the novel by Thomas Hardy in my early youth – and having completely forgotten the story – it was quite interesting to see the latest adaptation of the famous novel. 

Bathsheba Everdene is a feminist ahead of her time and probably ahead of present times as well, at least as far as I am concerned.  She doesn’t believe in marriage and tells her first suitor quite plaintively, “I have no need of marriage!”  But life has a strange way of working itself out despite one’s best intentions, and love has a way of disrupting even the most carefully arranged plans.

A lovely period film set in the late nineteenth century in rural England in an era when telephones and e-mail were not yet in existence, it is fascinating to watch the power of a hand-written note that makes mountains move.  The romantic entanglements that ensue make for fine entertainment, despite being utterly predictable. 

High marks for cinematography, costumes and music.  And if you need to have your faith restored in love and the institution of marriage, look no further.

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