Guy Ritchie's new feature version of The Man from U.N.C.L.E, adapted from the 1960s TV spy series, is lightweight but stylish and enjoyable in a high-kitsch fashion.
The betting has come down on Henry Cavill being cast as the next Bond. The film should certainly help as part of his audition reel. He is very dapper and dashing as Napoleon Solo, dressed like Thunderball-era Sean Connery in immaculate suits, and extravagantly polite, even at moments of the most extreme danger. Arnie Hammer is gruffer and more laconic as Solo's Russian sidekick, KGB agent, Illya Kuryakin. The two are first seen as fierce antagonists but are soon forced to work together.
Top TV spin-off movies
Top TV spin-off movies
1/10 Star Trek
Star Trek’s humble three season beginnings with wonky doors and polo necks spawned a dynasty of interstellar adventures. Benedict Cumberbatch took over in 2013’s Into Darkness.
2/10 Sex and the City
The series renewed so many concepts of female independence, but in the film a woman’s happy ending was to rely on a man for validation. Let’s not talk about the sequel.
3/10 The Simpsons
It took them long enough but The Simpsons team finally made a film from the beloved series in 2007. The script was rewritten over a hundred times to create a pleasantly environmental story starkly similar to Stephen King’s Under the Dome series.
4/10 The Man from U.N.C.L.E
Henry Cavill is coming in Guy Ritchie’s The Man from U.N.C.L.E. this summer, but sixties super spies Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin have long set mums’ hearts a flame. While the original Solo Robert Vaughn was last seen in Hustle and Coronation Street, David McCallum (Kuryakin) stays true to his crime fighting roots as a medical examiner in NCIS.
5/10 Charlie’s Angels
In a film that feels like a series of music videos stapled together it’s hard to know if the film is a feminist ploy or a teenage dream. Either way you are guaranteed glitz and female bonding.
6/10 The Inbetweeners
So well-loved are the incredibly British reprobates that audiences could barely wait to see what school leavers Will, Simon, Jay and Neil would do on the lash in Malia. The sequel sees them take a gap year trip to Australia.
7/10 The X-Files
It often feels like the place where mainstream nerdery began. The nineties saw school files peppered with pictures of Mulder and Scully so a spin-off film (or two) was inevitable. The actors and creator Chris Carter have said they are talking about reuniting for new episodes this summer.
8/10 The Muppets
The Muppets have been everywhere through the medium of film. Their happy little series hatched in the seventies has had adventures in space, Manhattan, at Christmas, on an island, and finally they got the reboot they needed in 2011 with Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s beautifully paced The Muppets film, helped along by Flight of the Concord’s Bret McKenzie’s musical skills.
9/10 21 Jump Street
The police procedural TV series of the eighties had a comedic U-turn in tone of actors Channing Tatum and Jonah Hills’ reboot film in 2012 that led to the property being a viable franchise. We’ve since had 22 Jump Street and potentially another sequel -and a Men in Black crossover.
10/10 Ali G Indahouse
Ali G (short for Allegory) spun out of Channel 4’s The 11 O’clock Show into his own comedy show in 2000. A parody of DJ Tim Westwood and various posing suburban, privileged kids, he was the self-proclaimed 'voice of da yoof'. Sacha Baron Cohen announced he has retired the character (along with Borat).
The film feels very British although one main character is American (albeit played by an English actor), the other Russian, and the beautiful heroine (Alicia Vikander) is a car mechanic from East Berlin. (Her father is a brilliant scientist who knows how to build atom bombs and her uncle Rudi is a die-hard Nazi.) The British ambience is reinforced by the presence of Hugh Grant as the spy boss, saying "well done chaps" to Solo and Kuryakin on the rare occasions when they follow orders. As the villainess, Elizabeth Debicki looks and behaves like a more sinister version of Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds.
All the characters here are very much better spoken than those in the geezer-gangster movies Ritchie used to make at the start of his career. This is a Vinnie Jones-free zone. There is no mockney here.
The setting may be the early 1960s but any ideological tension in the Cold War has been strained out. The differences between East and West are more to do with fashion, gadgetry and approaches to courtship than with politics. The tone of the film is relentlessly cheery, touching on the facetious, even though the plot involves deadly weapons that could blow up humanity. There isn't a huge amount of chemistry between Cavill and Hammer as the ideologically opposed spies are forced to work together. The film's trump card is its carefree mixture of zest and stylishness.Reuse content