A recent trip to the library yielded some amazing movie finds, starring my three favorite modern-day actors! I’ll try to keep these blurbs short and sweet, but cookies and hot chocolate for anyone who sticks with me through the end, haha.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
IMDB summary: In the early 1960s, CIA agent Napoleon Solo (Henry Cavill) and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin (Armie Hammer) participate in a joint mission against a mysterious criminal organization, which is working to proliferate nuclear weapons.
I found out about this movie during that period in my life when my face turned into the heart-eyes emoji every time I saw Henry Cavill, but I’ve never found the opportunity to see it. On my best friend’s eager and repeated suggestion, I finally checked it out at the library and popped it into my computer as soon as I got home.
This movie is just pure, unadulterated fun. Napoleon Solo isn’t exactly a model citizen, and Illya Kuryakin is a physically intimidating Soviet desperate to prove he isn’t a traitor like his father. Order them to unite in a common cause, and you’ve got a fascinating (and hilarious) combo on your hands. Throw in the fierce, diminuitive Gaby (Alicia Vikander), and you’re really in business. Oh, and get this: NO LOVE TRIANGLE, because Napoleon ships Illya and Gaby so hard.
There are two mildly inappropriate scenes, so check the IMDB Parents Guide before you view this one. They’re very brief, though, and the language was minimal. If you like the Mission Impossible movies, you should enjoy this one. Watch for A+ sass, a light-hearted Cold War thriller, and the best American and Russian accents on the block.
(And yes, I know all about the TV show. And that one episode with William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy. I know. Believe me, I know… 😉 )
Snow White and the Huntsman
IMDB summary: Snow White, the imprisoned daughter of the late king, escapes after the Magic Mirror declares she is the source of her evil stepmother’s immortality. The Queen sends her men, led by a local huntsman, to bring her back. But upon her capture, the huntsman finds he’s being played and turns against the Queen’s men, saving Snow White in the process.
The live-action Cinderella was pure Disney magic. This retelling of an old fairytale, on the other hand, takes a grittier, “Tolkienized” approach–and guess what? It works!
I liked this film way more than I expected. I’ve always been a bit leery of Kristen Stewart–her facial expression never varies, plus there’s the Twilight stigma (sorry, Twihards)–so I was pleasantly surprised by her performance as Snow White. I never liked the old cartoon because I always thought Snow White was way too featherbrained. Kristen Stewart, however, portrayed a kind, intelligent princess who didn’t mind putting on a full suit of armor by the end of the movie and leading her people into battle, Joan of Arc style.
Yes, there are dwarfs, but the focus is on Snow’s relationship with the cynical, ax-wielding Huntsman (Chris Hemsworth). Just like watching Superman (AKA Henry Cavill) play a completely different role in The Man from U.N.C.L.E., it was fun watching Thor play someone so grumpy, haha! Also, Hemsworth is the king of accents. I’ve heard him with a very proper English accent (Thor), a New England sailor’s accent (In the Heart of the Sea), an American accent (Star Trek and Red Dawn), and now a Scottish brogue.
The Queen and her witchcraft were the most disturbing parts, so I would not recommend it for younger audiences at all. But Christian overtones, great character development for the Huntsman, and a new and needed take on Snow White herself have me thinking that these live-action fairytales are the next big thing.
The Finest Hours
IMDB summary: In February of 1952, one of the worst storms to ever hit the East Coast strikes New England, damaging an oil tanker off the coast of Cape Cod and literally ripping it in half. On a small lifeboat faced with frigid temperatures and 70-foot high waves, four members of the Coast Guard set out to rescue the more than 30 stranded sailors trapped aboard the rapidly-sinking vessel.
Of the three films featured in this post, this was my favorite. It’s a true story, with real-life heroes. On the one hand, you’ve got Bernie Webber (Chris Pine), the shy, awkward Coast Guard patrolman who ventures out into hurricane-force winds even though he knows he and his tiny crew might not even survive long enough to reach the sinking Pendleton. On the other hand, you’ve got Ray Sybert (Casey Affleck), basically the first officer of the Pendleton who takes command after the captain is killed. Nobody likes him, yet he wins his crew’s respect by persevering and working with the beleaguered ship he knows so well.
That’s what I found the most interesting: both men knew their ships. One had a tiny Coast Guard boat, the other a seriously-damaged oil tanker, yet both knew what those ships were capable of. And because of that, they were able to do unbelievable things that no one else would dare to try.
Chris Pine was amazing. I know, I know, call me biased–but this movie made me realize just what a great actor he is. Bernie Webber is as adorably soft-spoken as Jim Kirk is boisterous, and his quiet simplicity is so endearing. All the poor boy wants in life is to settle down and marry his outgoing, super-cute girlfriend…but he also wants to save as many lives at sea as he can. Because he remains fairly reserved throughout the film, his feelings mostly come out in shaking hands, exhausted smiles, and gritted teeth. He was just good.
This movie is very family-friendly. I could count on one hand the number of bad words, and there aren’t any inappropriate scenes, either! I give The Finest Hours the highest recommendation possible.
Have y’all seen any of these movies? Let me know in the comments!