Some fan complaints about the U.N.C.L.E. movie

Some U.N.C.L.E. fans react to what they've seen about the new movie.

Some U.N.C.L.E. fans react to news about the new movie.

Everybody’s a critic, the saying goes. So it is with The Man From U.N.C.L.E. movie a month after it began filming.

The Internet in its myriad forms, including Facebook, Twitter, listservs message boards and blogs like this one, has the potential to give every fan a voice. And many take advantage of the opportunity.

While it’s hard to say how representative they are, here’s a sampling of some fan complaints about the movie that stars Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer in the roles originated by Robert Vaughn and David McCallum. A lot of this is subjective and if you’re an U.N.C.L.E. fan you may agree or disagree.

1. The lead actors are too tall: Norman Felton, executive producer of the original 1964-68 series, was on record as not wanting “big, ballsy men” as his leads, which is one reason why Vaughn and McCallum, each below 6-feet tall, got the roles. Some fans refer to Kuryakin/McCallum as LBG, or “little blonde guy.”

Cavill is 6-goot-1 while Hammer is 6-foot-5. That is admittedly a big change and some fans don’t like it. Cavill was a last-minute casting change for 5-foot-7 Tom Cruise, who opted out of the project.

2. Henry Cavill is too muscular: Cavill, 30, is the latest screen Superman (in 2013’s Man of Steel) and will reprise the role in 2014 for a Superman-Batman movie that will be released in the summer of 2015. That’s different that Felton’s “everyman” vision.

3. Armie Hammer isn’t blonde enough: Hammer had dark hair playing the Lone Ranger in the 2013 Disney movie. He has lightened his hair, but for some fans he’s not blond enough.

Armie Hammer with a David McCallum haircut.

Armie Hammer with a David McCallum haircut.

4. Hammer doesn’t have Illya Kuryakin’s hairstyle: McCallum’s Kuryakin had bangs and his hairstyle got shaggier later in the series. Based on photos taken during filming in Rome SUCH AS THIS ONE, Hammer isn’t attempting the same hairstyle.

5. Why does Hollywood do all these remakes and/or sequels? This is a broader complaint about Hollywood in general. As movie costs have spiraled, studios have gotten conservative and are viewed as less willing to take risks in general.

Occasionally, there are remakes worth doing. Humphrey Bogart wasn’t the first actor to play Sam Spade. My Fair Lady, seen as a screen classic, is essentially a musical remake of Pygmalion. Some argue The Godfather Part II is better than the original. The problem isn’t necessarily remakes per se, but how they’re executed.

6. This is going to be a flop on the scale of 2013’s Lone Ranger movie! Actually, that’s almost impossible. The U.N.C.L.E. movie’s budget is a reported $75 million, while Disney’s Lone Ranger movie had a budget of as much as $240 million.

Meanwhile, as far as U.N.C.L.E. concerned, the past 30 years of fan discussion has centered on either the original show or U.N.C.L.E. projects that didn’t get made. Looking on the bright side, the U.N.C.L.E movie is something new to talk about — whether the movie turns out good or ill — for the first time in a long time. It also may recruit new U.N.C.L.E. fans, starting with fans of the lead actors.

A 007 actor and his fanboys

If you were to believe rabid fans of Daniel Craig and his two films as James Bond, this video would be quite significant:

The video was taken during the premier of Cowboys and Aliens. To those who believe Daniel Craig is the *very best* James Bond ever (never mind Connery, never mind Moore, never mind any other 007 actor or *potential* Bond actor), this video is proof of that.

To that we offer a few observations:

1) The only obligation an actor has to fans is to deliver the best performance he or she can deliver. Nodding to fanboys is something to endure, not anything more significant than that.

2) Actors have multiple obligations; chances are he/she is not a particular fan of the character he/she is playing. Actors have their own careers to take of and portraying a character in a movie, TV series or play is just a job. In Daniel Craig’s case, do you really think he cares more about Bond than his Cowboys and Aliens character? Here’s the breathless description of the YouTube video above: “Amazingly, at the premiere of Cowboys and Aliens, Craig notices three fans wearing perfect Madagascar outfits from Casino Royale and gives his approval not once but THREE times!”

3) For those actors who are playing a well-known character played by multiple actors previously…well, it will probably take years before any one actor’s performance can be properly evaluated compared with the others. To cite an extreme case: Ricardo Cortez played Sam Spade a decade before Humphrey Bogart did, yet ALMOST NOBODY (to be kind) would cite Cortez’s portrayal to be superior to Bogart’s version. Are 007 fanboys really in a position to evaluate Craig compared with the other five actors who’ve played Bond in films?

Put another way: is Craig’s portrayal of Bond closer to Bogie’s as Spade or to Cortez’s as Spade? Does anyone *really* know at this point? Would Craig himself even care as long as the paychecks clear?