Features

5 Best movies based on TV series

Writer: Casey Chong


(L-R) Alicia Vikander, Armie Hammer and Henry Cavill star in "The Man from U.N.C.L.E."

It's bound to happen sooner or later; a big-screen version for the popular 1960s TV series, "The Man from U.N.C.L.E.". It originally starred Robert Vaughn and David McCallum as agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryaki and the series ran for four seasons from 1964 till 1968.

In Guy Ritchie's ("Sherlock Holmes", "Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows") big screen adaptation, it seems like he is indeed the right man for the job, with Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer headlining the film.

While we're at it, let's take a step back to look at other films that were TV series first before they got turned into movies.

1. "The Untouchables" (1987)

(L-R) Andy Garcia, Sean Connery, Kevin Costner and Charles Martin Smith in "The Untouchables".

The 1959-1963 TV series of "The Untouchables", which starred Robert Stark as Eliot Ness, ran for four seasons and won two Primetime Emmy Awards. But the 1987 big-screen version was even more popular. Not only was it regarded as one of Brian De Palma's finest hours, the movie was both critically and financially successful back in the summer of 1987. The movie even won Sean Connery Best Supporting Actor for his memorable turn as the street-smart old timer, Jimmy Malone. Great cast all around, with Kevin Costner's then-groundbreaking role as the highly-determined Eliot Ness and Robert De Niro in his over-the-top but wildly entertaining performance as Al Capone. Then there's the memorable 10-minute scene inspired from "Battleship Potemkin" (1925), which involved a slow-motion shootout; a screaming mother; and a baby carriage rolling down the staircase in the Union Station.

2. "The Fugitive" (1993)

Harrison Ford is being cornered in "The Fugitive".

Based on the 1963-1967 ABC TV series starring David Janssen, director Andrew Davis ("Above The Law", "Under Siege") hit the jackpot with this fast-paced action thriller and is also among the best summer movies ever made in the '90s. Harrison Ford gave a solid performance as the titular character-on-the-run Dr. Richard Kimble, who was framed for the murder of his wife (Sela Ward). Tommy Lee Jones' no-nonsense performance as U.S. Marshal Samuel Gerard won him an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, and believe it or not, "The Fugitive" even scored a Best Picture nomination – a rare feat, especially given the fact that the Oscars often overlooked genre movies. Tommy Lee Jones reprised his role in "U.S. Marshals" in 1998, even though that sequel-of-sorts was inferior by comparison.

3. "Mission: Impossible" franchise (1996-2015)

Tom Cruise in one of the famous scenes from "Mission: Impossible" (1996).

First created by Bruce Geller, the "Mission: Impossible" TV series was best known for its iconic phrase "This tape will self-destruct in five... four... three... two... one..." and of course, the memorable theme music by the legendary Lalo Schifrin. The series ran seven seasons in total from 1966 till 1973, and won three Golden Globes along the way. Then in 1996, Tom Cruise (who was a fan of the TV series) headlined the first big-screen version of "Mission: Impossible" with acclaimed director Brian De Palma at the helm. The result was a highly-convoluted, but successful movie version that blended well with old-fashioned spy genre and Hitchcockian-like thriller territory. Although many purists hated the fact the movie version radically changed the IMF (Impossible Mission Force) team leader Jim Phelps (Jon Voight) into a traitor, it was good enough to launch a lucrative franchise with a varying degree of success. The subsequent "Mission: Impossible" franchise was handled by different directors (John Woo, J.J. Abrams and Brad Bird) and recently, Christopher McQuarrie who directed the fifth instalment, the well-praised "Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation". Following a healthy box-office run, Cruise himself has confirmed a sixth "Mission: Impossible" movie which will be in development sometime next year.

4. "Charlie's Angels" (2000)

(L-R) Drew Barrymore, Cameron Diaz and Lucy Liu in "Charlie's Angels".

If you remember the '70s, you would probably know the level of popularity surrounding the hugely-successful TV series, "Charlie's Angels". The series starred Kate Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Jaclyn Smith, and ran for five seasons from 1976 till 1981. The series was best remembered for Farrah Fawcett's iconic red swimsuit poster, before she left after just one season to pursue a movie career. In 2011, there was an attempt to revive the series with Annie Ilonzeh, Minka Kelly and Rachael Taylor as the leads. Unfortunately, the revival series lasted only eight episodes. The McG-directed 2000 movie version, which starred Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu, was a flawed but hugely entertaining action comedy. It went on to become a box office hit and was followed by an inferior sequel, "Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle" in 2003.

5. "Star Trek" franchise (1979-2013)

(L-R) Zachary Quinto and Chris Pine in "Star Trek Into Darkness".

"Star Trek" began life as a TV series that ran five different versions throughout the decades: "The Original Series" from 1966-1969); "The Next Generation" (1987-1994); "Deep Space Nine" (1993-1999); "Voyager" (1995-2001); and "Enterprise" (2001-2005). In between one of the longest-running series of television history, "Star Trek" was also expanded into a series of movie versions. In 1979, "Star Trek: The Motion Picture" ¬arrived with mixed fanfare. Although the movie was known for Jerry Goldsmith's Oscar-nominated signature theme music, the first big-screen version failed to make money at the box office. Fortunately, an improved sequel known as "Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan" followed in 1982. It was also highly regarded as a fan favourite and among the best "Star Trek" movies ever seen in the franchise. Then in 2002, "Star Trek: Nemesis" took a heavy beating from many critics and bust badly at the box office. The "Star Trek" movie franchise subsequently went into limbo for a seven year hiatus, before director J.J. Abrams successfully rebooted the movie in 2009 with a younger cast (Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Anton Yelchin) and a more action-oriented storyline. The "Star Trek" reboot was a huge hit at the worldwide box office and spawned an equally successful sequel, "Star Trek Into Darkness" in 2013. The third movie, "Star Trek Beyond", is currently in development by "Fast and Furious" director Justin Lin for a July 2016 release date.


Watch how different the TV series look from the movie versions!

"The Man From U.N.C.L.E." is now showing in cinemas.

Cinema Online, 13 August 2015


Related Movies:
Star Trek Into Darkness (16 May 2013)
Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation (30 Jul 2015)
The Man From U.N.C.L.E. (03 Sep 2015)
Star Trek Beyond (21 Jul 2016)

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