Tag Archive: Hugh Grant


Review by C.J. Bunce

You may not know it, but you probably first met them in their record-breaking music video that they pulled together in only two weeks for Peter Gabriel’s song, Sledgehammer.  It’s a story of two teenagers borrowing mom’s old kitchen table to use to film their Plasticine creations.  Flash forward a few years and their multiple Oscar-winning company is negotiating for big-budget real estate for their movie studio.  The company is Aardman Animations, named for the star character of their earliest film.  And the founders are Peter Lord and David Sproxton, who have documented their journey in this year’s latest chronicle of the history of animation, A Grand Success! The Aardman Journey, One Frame at a Time, now available from Abrams Press.

It’s not just a biography of the two boys who would see their company bring home four Oscars and even more nominations and BAFTAs.  A Grand Success! (the title a play on their first Oscar-nominated adventure, A Grand Day Out) is a time capsule of those key intersections of effort, skill, perseverance, and happenstance, that can make any endeavor a success.  The efforts of the small British upstart found their footing in both the worlds of fantasy film and advertising.  One put the food on the table until, like many creators, they could focus on their passions.  And although they didn’t sever their ties with commercial work, they created what are now among the most recognized characters in England and the world outside the United States (and their U.S. following isn’t too bad, either).  Before long their ideas had them sealing big deals with the likes of Jeffrey Katzenberg and Steven Spielberg, and having actors from Ralph Fiennes, Helena Bonham Carter, Hugh Grant, Eddie Redmayne, Maisie Williams, and Tom Hiddleston–the cream of Britain’s acting talent– providing the voices of their characters.

A crowning achievement in animation in The Wrong Trousers, from the studio lauded by Ray Harryhausen, Terry Gilliam, and Matt Groening.

Lord and Sproxton pull in two other key players in their look at Aardman’s history, animators Nick Park and Richard “Golly” Goleszowski.  Park grew up as a fan of Aardman’s films as a kid, and by 1989, when he was only 31, he was attending Oscar parties as the face of the studio.  All four would create iconic characters from Wallace & Gromit, Shaun the Sheep, and the anthropomorphic “very British” animals of Creature Comforts.

Continue reading

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

Review by C.J. Bunce

It’s almost a shame this weekend’s big screen release The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is a retelling of the 1960s television series.  It’s an adaptation in that it takes the framework of the show—an American and a Russian working together as Cold War era spies—yet director Guy Ritchie makes this work stand completely by itself.  The fact that it’s based on a classic series may turn away viewers who may be tired of other remakes of 1960s shows like Get Smart and The Avengers (both of which were good standalone films).  But that would be a great loss, as The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is not only as stylish as advertised in our favorite trailer of the year, it’s a classy and smart story and a superb re-creation of the early 1960s.

It’s no surprise that this film relishes its Bond influences–Henry Cavill’s character Napoleon Solo was created by Ian Fleming, the same Ian Fleming that created Bond.  Yet the movie is fresh and new.  The story and Cavill’s performance evoke Matt Bomer’s role of stylish and cocky ex-art thief-turned government man on TV’s White Collar.  In fact Cavill is a dead ringer for Bomer.  Likely it’s just a coincidence but if you loved White Collar you’ll love this film.  And any doubts you may have as to Cavill’s acting because of the poorly written part he was stuck with in Man of Steel will be wiped away with his confident and suave Solo.  Even better is Armie Hammer’s performance as Illya Kuryakin.  Any doubts you may have as to Hammer’s acting from his lead role in The Lone Ranger will also be wiped away.  Hammer’s performance as a KGB agent in need of some anger management is nuanced and layered.  The idea of putting some Ennio Morricone musical queues behind Hammer and adding a Clint Eastwood Dirty Harry twitch are simply inspired.  This is a great team and a film that sets itself up for an exciting sequel.

Cavill Debicki Man from UNCLE

As commanding a presence as Cavill and Hammer have, they are almost upstaged by the equally important roles played by Alicia Vikander as the German daughter of a rocket scientist and Elizabeth Debicki as the ultimate Bond villain.  The villainy in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is surprisingly as powerful, seething, and fun as any 1960s Bond film.  All of this is a credit to Ritchie’s bankable directorial and writing prowess.  A fan of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Ritchie knows how to get the best out of partnerships here, just as he did with his Sherlock Holmes movie series.

Continue reading

Man from UNCLE Henry Cavill   Man from UNCLE Hugh Grant

This year’s remake/adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. remains in the lead this year for our best marketed theatrical release.  Each teaser and trailer has been so stunningly executed that it actually makes us almost forget that it features the stars of Man of Steel and The Lone Ranger.  The theme is style and specifically retro style.  And Henry Cavill makes a much better James Bond type than a classic superhero.

You have so many ways to turn with a modern remake of a classic property.  You can update the setting to the present day.  You can spoof the original.  Or you can do what The Man from U.N.C.L.E. appears to be doing:  Giving a faithful attempt to update to the original in its original place and time.

UNCLE Vikander   UNCLE Hammer

More than five minutes long, the latest trailer, released earlier today at San Diego Comic-Con, may be trying a bit too hard and certainly may be in need of an edit.  Yet if any of the style in these trailers (seen here and here previously at borg.com), makes it into this movie we might have a winner on our hands.  In fact, it looks like loyalists to the original could probably forget this is the same universe and be able to enjoy this movie on its own merits.  It just looks that good.

Continue reading

Man from UNCLE movie poster 2

For a long dead TV property, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. looks like it might have fallen into the right hands.  Director Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes) has now released two stylish and compelling trailers–two of the best previews we’ve seen this year–for a late summer movie release that we didn’t think we’d have any reason to be interested in.

If the movie matches the previews, we have another “international man of mystery” story to look forward to–a James Bond with the retro-cinematography feel of the BBC’s TV adaptation of Michael Dibdin’s Zen novels.  Despite the fact that the film features the stars of the failed Man of Steel and The Lone Ranger reboots, we have some hope for this one, so long as it can avoid going the way of Johnny Depp’s Dark Shadows.

Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, and Hugh Grant star in this relook at Robert Vaughn and David McCallum’s classic agents for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement (U.N.C.L.E.).  Cavill fills in for Vaughn as Napoleon Solo and Hammer for McCallum as Russian Illya Kuryakin.

Man from UNCLE banner

We now have a new poster for the film and a new trailer.  We previewed the first trailer at borg.com back in February here.  Check out this new trailer:

Continue reading

Cavill as Napoleon Solo Man from UNCLE

On the one hand, the first preview for Guy Ritchie’s remake of the 1960s Man from U.N.C.L.E. television series looks fairly stylish.  On the other, it stars the leads of the less than stellar Man of Steel and the remake of The Lone Ranger.  

Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander and Hugh Grant co-star in the next spy flick trying to be James Bond.  The original U.N.C.L.E. series starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as agents for the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement.  Cavill fills in for Vaughn as Napoleon Solo and Hammer for McCallum as Illya Kuryakin.

A remake of this type would seem to have a pretty narrow audience.  Fans of the original will have the typical two camps: those that avoid it out of loyalty to the original and those who want to see more from the show’s universe of stories.  In a year where dozens of big box office draws are slated for release and already announced months ago as previously discussed here at borg.com, and when remakes (like The Lone Ranger) have proven to fail at the box office, this one will have a steep hill to climb.

Check out this first trailer for The Man from U.N.C.L.E., after the break:

Continue reading