Man From U.N.C.L.E. (2015
feature film remake/Warner Blu-ray w/DVD)/Scorpio
(1973/United Artists/MGM/Twilight Time Limited Edition Blu-ray)
B & C/B Sound: B+ & C+/B- Extras: B/C+ Films: B-
Blu-ray is now only available from our friends at Twilight Time, is
limited to only 3,000 copies and can be ordered while supplies last
from the links below.
are two new Spy films on Blu-ray, one a remake of a classic that
works, another with a serious following from the early 1970s part of
the Cold War era that deserves its reputation and still holds up...
many attempts that fell through over the years, we finally get Guy
Man From U.N.C.L.E.
(2015), a revival of the hit 1960s TV series that made Robert Vaughn
and David McCallum international stars. They even tried to reunite
to do a theatrical film, but new duos were considered, nearly signed
and maybe even signed before other feature film remakes were
considered. Then Henry Cavill (looking more like Superman here than
he does in Man
took on Vaughn's Napoleon Solo role and Arnie Hammer (almost in a nod
to Robert Shaw's 'Red' Grant in the 1963 James Bond film From
Russia With Love,
reviewed elsewhere on this site) became a tougher Illya Kuryakin in a
smartly-enough scripted rework that does not have them as friends and
co-workers when we meet them; set in the period of the original show.
they are adversaries at first when solo has to get a young lady out
of East Germany, which Kuryakin tries to stop. However, a deadly
nuclear threat has the two being forced to work together in a
pre-detante (the word is never used) arrangement to deal with the
threat and they're off, clashing often and trying to solve the case
in their own way. Some might remember Walter Hill's Red
(1986) when considering the East/West split, but this has more wit,
if a little less punch to it. The story is consistent, good taste
from all a plus, action well done and to my surprise, when the film
gets a little lost, the Cavill/Hammer chemistry makes up for it
pulling off the nearly-impossible task of bringing the classic
characters back to life (and on their terms).
Grant, Alicia Viklander, Elizabeth Debicki and Jarred Harris are
among the surprisingly solid supporting cast and the result is one of
the years most underrated films. More than worthy of SPECTRE
Impossible - Rogue Nation,
this new U.N.C.L.E.
miraculously brings back a part of the genre from the 1960s that is
not over-the-top/satire (Matt Helm, Derek Flint, Austin Powers), the
outright action on big budgets already noted or the very serious
clinical realistic thrillers (Harry Palmer, Spy
Who Came In From The Cold,
TV series, or Scorpio
below) but the action in the middle from many a forgotten film and
forgotten TV shows (like U.N.C.L.E.,
as well as I
that spoke to the high hopes of the era JFK set despite his loss and
of an U.S. & U.K. of unlimited wealth and possibilities.
one of Ritchie's best films yet, his best since Snatch,
has been more popular with people I've talked to since its release,
is a minor classic of the genre, deserves a serious sequel and is a
must-see for all serious action and spy fans. Nice!!!
include 6 behind the scenes featurettes (only one of which is on the
DVD in A
Higher Class Of Hero
Vision: Recreating '60s Cool, Metisse Motorcycles: Proper-And Very
British, The Guys from U.N.C.L.E., A Man of Extraordinary Talents
(in 6 parts), plus
Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and Apple Mac-type
check out our coverage of the original series Man
DVD box set at this link:
TV series DVD sets here:
8 theatrical films from 1964 to 1967 built out of episodes of the
show on DVD here:
Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
(1973) takes place only a few years later as the Cold War raged on,
but this is a much more serious take on the subject with Burt
Lancaster as Cross, a CIA veteran assassin who is about to find
himself in the crossfire of Cold War politics, CIA office politics
and worse when the agency wants his longtime partner Jean (Alain
Delon) to get rid of him for the benefit of some higher-ups perverted
needs for power. Jean is also an assassin known as Scorpio, but he's
also at conflict with the agency pushing him into work when they have
not signed any contract(s) with him. Thus, like Cross, he has other
concerns that get in the way of a few semi-secret political agendas.
starts dealing with old frienemies from the USSR and other contacts
to save his wife and get out of the spy game altogether, but he is a
threat that makes his opponents want to put him in the cold and
freeze him out for good. Instead of an outright cat-and-mouse action
film, we get action in between long, usually interesting stretches of
suspense or interesting scenes (with a few moments that are flat on
occasion) that includes Paul Scofield as Zharkov, an old school
Soviet communist and fellow spy who has plenty to say to everyone.
Wise and easily taking on those who try to cross him, he has an
especially interesting moment where he tells Cross about how he
stayed communist, even when Stalin arrived bringing mass murder and
terror with him, permanently ruining the dreams that made their
original revolution possible. It is powerful, painful, even
heartbreaking and speaks to power even then that the Soviet Union was
a permanent failure. No one could have known it would collapse less
than two decades later.
works well with Lancaster here, though I think Brian De Palma got a
bit more out of Kirk Douglas as a spy in The
(1978, reviewed on Twilight Time Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) in
as different kind of thriller that moved beyond the genre, yet
Lancaster couldn't have played this one better. I believed him the
whole time and the supporting cast is a strong one, including John
Colicos, J.D. Cannon, Joanne Linville, Gayle Hunnicut, Vladel
Sheybal, Mel Stewart, Jack Colvin, James B. Sikking, William
Smithers, Celeste Yarnall, Sandor Eles, Frederick Jaeger and
uncredited turns by Earl Cameron, Shane Rimmer and Bill Nagy.
Serious filmmakers who know better would kill to get a cast like that
to say this is one of Winner's best films and the film pretty much
deserves the big reputation it has among its many fans and
supporters. Scorpio is also at least a minor classic of the genre
and its great we have this new special limited edition Blu-ray to
enjoy, admire and celebrate it!
include another great illustrated booklet on the film including
informative text and one-the-money-as-always essay by Julie Kirgo,
while the Blu-ray disc adds another exceptionally strong feature
length audio commentary track by Kirgo, Nick Redman &
Lem Dobbs, Original Theatrical Trailer and great (also in lossless
DTS-MA, but 2.0 Stereo!) Isolated Music Score of the great music by
the ever-amazing Jerry Fielding. It is so good and effective, he
took several cues and repurposed them from this genre to horror for
several episodes of the classic TV series Kolchak:
The Night Stalker
in new recordings that had and have the same strong impact there that
these spy versions have here. His scoring sense when it came to
narrative was one of the greatest of all composers ever and this just
adds to the mounting evidence of that.
1080p 2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image on U.N.C.L.E.
was shot on Arri Alexa HD cameras and save a few scenes with motion
blur and more with obvious CGI work, this looks a bit better than
expected, though color is sometimes too toned down despite being set
in the mid-1960s. The entire original U.N.C.L.E.
TV series, plus The
Girl From U.N.C.L.E.
TV series (all in MetroColor) and even later Return
Of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.
TV movie were all shot on 35mm film and hold up well, but tis new
shoot is worth of the best from those productions (the original show
went from black and white briefly, so moderate color to more keyed up
color as the hit Batman
TV series and Pop Art trends affected it and its Girl
spin-off before it tried to get dark again). Ace Director of
Photography John Mathieson, B.S.C., avoids any Austin Powers visuals,
but Bond occasionally seeps into the visual. However, the biggest
inspiration as far as any retro look are the American/Hollywood spy
film and the many Italian spy flicks that became their own fun,
underdiscussed cycle. Throw in some of Ritchie's editing approach,
like it or not, and this is a really good-looking film. The
anamorphically enhanced DVD version is very weak and is best skipped.
1080p 1.85 X 1 digital High Definition image transfer on Scorpio
can show the age of the materials used with some specs of dirt (often
from optical printing, par for the course in that era), but this is
far superior a transfer to all previous releases of the film and
color is consistent. Originally shot on 35mm film and issued in 35mm
three-strip Technicolor prints (though that is not always in the
credits), Director of Photography Robert Paynter has lensed half of
(reviewed on Twilight Time Blu-ray elsewhere on this site) and was
more than capable of delivering here with some really good and
interesting shots, including a few when you least expect it. The
color here is not always up to a Technicolor print, but it can be and
I like the look of this film, dark it ways you might not consider as
Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless mix on U.N.C.L.E.
is here in a pretty decent
Dolby TrueHD 7.1 lossless mixdown (rated above; we expect the 11.1
would rate higher) that can be restrained at times (unusual for a
Ritchie film), but takes advantage of the multi-channel possibilities
when it needs to and is one of the nest sound mixes of the year down
to the new music score, sound effects and use of classic songs. The
lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 on the DVD version is passable, but not great
and sometimes flat by comparison.
DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 1.0 Mono lossless mix on Scorpio
is not bad for tis age, but can be on the flat side throughout,
especially in regards to the music. This is more apparent when you
compare it to the depth of the Isolated Music Track. Too bad there
was not a 2.0 Stereo upgrade of some kind, but maybe
the rest of the soundmasters were just not as good and MGM decided to
pass on that possible idea? Otherwise, it sounds good for a
theatrical mono film of its time.
order the Scorpio
limited edition Blu-ray while supplies last, go to these links for it
and many more great exclusives: