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The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) movie poster The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Theatrical Release: August 14, 2015 / Running Time: 116 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Guy Ritchie / Writers: Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram (story & screenplay); Jeff Kleeman, David Campbell Wilson (story); Sam Rolfe (television series)

Cast: Henry Cavill (Napoleon Solo), Armie Hammer (Illya Kuryakin), Alicia Vikander (Gaby Teller), Elizabeth Debicki (Victoria Vinciguerra), Luca Calvani (Alexander), Sylvester Groth (Uncle Rudi), Hugh Grant (Waverly), Jared Harris (Sanders), Christian Berkel (Udo), Misha Kuznetsov (Oleg), Guy Williams (Captain Smith)

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In The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Guy Ritchie turns a 1960s television series into a contemporary-styled caper bearing the distinct imprint of the Sherlock Holmes and Snatch director.
Set in the '60s, the film opens along the Iron Curtain, as American CIA agent Napoleon Solo (our current Superman, Henry Cavill) picks up mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) and promises to get her out of East Germany. The getaway requires precise maneuvering because it is being watched by Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), a deadly serious Russian KGB agent determined to stop the stealthy escape.

Shots are fired in this early car chase, setting the tone for another action-heavy international Guy Ritchie movie. Mortal enemies Solo and Kuryakin are assigned to work with each other, with the Russian posing as the fiancé of Gaby. The mission is for the trio to thwart the communist regime's burgeoning nuclear weapons program. Of course, a two-hour Guy Ritchie movie has a roundabout way of supplying that plot. It plays slightly with chronology to unleash some twists, but the story is typically serving action sequences instead of the more desirable alternative.

Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer), Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander), and Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) strike a pose in the closing shot of "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

Fortunately, Ritchie knows action. He manages to keep fights and chases fairly exciting even when their outcomes are never in doubt and their particulars are rarely worth detailing. The director, who also shares screenplay credit with Sherlock Holmes scribe Lionel Wigram (story credits are divided by this duo and another scarcely-experienced pair), gives our two hunky leads a nicely comedic rivalry. Kuryakin, prone to psychotic episodes, and Solo, a suave thief too valuable to rot in jail, fall just short of buddy comedy status, but their playful one-upmanship makes this adventure more human and enjoyable than it otherwise would be. It's a variation on Ritchie's Holmes and Watson that doesn't invite comparisons or criticism of self-repeating.

U.N.C.L.E. is suitably stylish, outfitting our heroes in sharp and colorful period threads. Ritchie largely resists period tunes in favor of original score by Daniel Pemberton. The director's instincts are more visceral than commercial and they probably keep this polished tale from finding a large audience. It's tricky adapting an old TV show whose fanbase has aged out of Hollywood's business model, leaving young people with neither fondness for nor familiarity with the source material. Cynics will argue that originality is dead in Hollywood. Purists may object to whatever modifications Ritchie and company have performed to make the film more palpable for modern moviegoers. And whoever isn't covered in those two demographics might bristle at caring about characters and universes they've never heard of.

American spy Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) forms an alliance with German mechanic Gaby Teller (Alicia Vikander) in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

There is a history of Superman actors struggling in movies without a cape and tights. Let us also not forget that prior to the two Sherlock movies, Ritchie had scored just a single minor hit fifteen years ago on Snatch. The Holmes mysteries,
Christmastime blockbusters whose success is probably more deservingly chalked up to Robert Downey Jr. and the character's enduring lore, have nonetheless vaulted the British filmmaker once best known for being Madonna's husband to a position of importance at Warner Bros. Pictures, for whom he's currently in post-production on the IMAX 3D Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur for a mid-summer 2016 release.

Though generally short on star power for a $75 million picture (despite the wealth of A-listers IMDb claims were "considered" for roles), U.N.C.L.E. does make nice use of Hugh Grant as a Brit of eventual importance and, as Solo's boss, Jared Harris, one of many cast members successfully adopting an accent other than their own.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. may not inspire much passion, but it manages to hold your interest and, for the most part, satisfy as one of the year's last servings of summer popcorn action.

As expected, the movie struggled at the box office, grossing just $45 million domestically and a little over $100 million worldwide, far shy of profitability considering the budget and costs. The film gets another chance to find an audience with Warner's recently released Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack.

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 Dolby TrueHD (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, French, Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Service, French, Spanish)
Subtitles: English for Hearing Impaired, French, Spanish; BD-only: Portuguese
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: November 17, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $35.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($28.98 SRP) and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

It is far from surprising when major studio movies boast terrific picture and sound on Blu-ray, but it is still easy to appreciate that they do. The Man from U.N.C.L.E. delivers sharp 2.40:1 video plus a dynamite 7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack.

Armie Hammer gets a tour of the Métisse Motorcycle factory. Director Guy Ritchie is celebrated in "A Man of Extraordinary Talents."

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray supplies a sextet of short HD extras on Blu-ray.

"Spy Vision: Recreating 60's Cool" (8:34) discusses the film's period fashions,
scenic European locations, and assorted styles.

"A Higher Class of Hero" (7:13) turns our attentions to the action and stunts, as well as the actors who carried them out.

As you can guess, "Métisse Motorcycles: Proper - And Very British" (4:49) celebrates the old motorcycles featured in the film, with Armie Hammer getting a tour of the company's factory.

"The Guys from U.N.C.L.E." (4:57) considers the co-leading men and the characters they play.

"A Man of Extraordinary Talents" (3:16) looks at director Guy Ritchie, with everyone voicing admiration for the tone he sets.

Hugh On-Set

Finally, U.N.C.L.E.: On-Set Spy consists of four brief shorts (5:16 total) taking us inside the filming of specific scenes with behind-the-scenes footage.

The only extra to also make it to DVD is "A Higher Class of Hero."

The Blu-ray opens with the trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
and a promo for digital movies. The DVD opens with an anti-tobacco spot, trailers for Batman v Superman and The 33, and ads for "Supergirl" and digital movies.

On each disc, the main menu attaches some finite score to static boldly colored poster adapted from a one-sheet design.

An insert with Digital HD/UltraViolet information is all that accompanies the two plain black discs inside the standard slipcovered eco-friendly keepcase.

Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) faces opposition in wealthy, glamorous Nazi sympathizer Victoria Vinciguerra (Elizabeth Debicki).

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Based on its origins and cast, it was practically inevitable that The Man from U.N.C.L.E. would fail to attract a large audience in theaters. While nothing monumental, moviegoers did miss out on a reasonably enjoyable, stylish, and high-powered Guy Ritchie action film. Both the movie and Warner's satisfactory combo pack warrant a look, particularly for action junkies.

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Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / Instant Video

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Henry Cavill: Man of SteelWhatever WorksStardust | Armie Hammer: The Lone RangerMirror MirrorJ. Edgar
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Reviewed December 1, 2015.



Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 Warner Bros. Pictures, Ritchie/Wigram Productions, Davis Entertainment Productions.
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