We’ve got what are basically two period films opening today, although one is more of an exclamation point, going way back to the 1960s, while the other just goes back thirty years or so. The only other thing these films really have in common is the fact that they are the end of the line, the acknowledged end of the summer movie season. Even though I placed the end a few weeks back, these two films are considered the last of the big releases for the summer of 2015. Nothing against the films opening next week, but you’ll be in the doldrums, thank you very much.
Straight Outta Compton is the NWA biopic that I imagine will stop long before Ice Cube starts making Are We There Yet? sequels. On top of its ubiquitous “Straight Outta Somewhere” viral marketing campaign that seemingly took over Facebook last weekend, the big topic of discussion on this film has been how some theaters are adding extra security while showing it. Presumably, theater owners fear a movie about gangster rappers is going to entice actual gangsters to show up and start shooting people. Oddly enough, nobody worried that American Sniper would persuade actual American snipers to show up and start shooting people, but then again, that was a heroic white guy, not a bunch of scary black guys like the ones who normally shoot up movie…
Oh, yeah. As for the film itself, it’s got a running time of nearly three hours, which is not at all what I expected. Not that I think there isn’t three hours worth of story to tell about the group, because their musical and social importance certainly argue otherwise. It’s just I never thought a studio would allow a film like this to even come close to that kind of running time. I mean, how could they put people in danger of being shot for that long?
The only danger present when it comes to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. is that Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation opened two weeks ago and was pretty damn good. Are people going to be in the mood for yet another spy movie? Particularly one that looks as highly stylized as this and based on a TV series that doesn’t quite have the same cultural footprint? I certainly hope so, because I really like what I’ve seen so far, and every review I’ve read has this pegged as the perfect piece of entertaining late summer fluff. My only reservation is the director, Guy Ritchie, whose highly praised British crime films like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch left me kind of cold, and whose big budget Sherlock Holmes films left me kind of bored. I’m hoping the Swinging 60s vibe — one I dearly wish the Bond films would go back to instead of this seeming obsession with brooding deconstruction they seem bent on lately — livens things up.
Because if I’m going to be shot by members of a super-secret world-spanning spy network while at the theater, I’d at least like to enjoy the movie first.