Manic Movie Magic: Now You See Me

There was a very brief time in 2006 when magician films were the thing. Yes, The Prestige and The Illusionist were both historical films about magicians which brought in significant amounts of money, but not enough to keep the trend going. Now in 2013, we have yet another magician film, this time set in present day. Will it finally achieve the success those other films couldn’t? Or will magician movies all be visually stunning flashes in the pan?

Let’s take a look at Now You See Me.

Now_You_See_Me_Poster

Now You See Me is the story of four magicians, each of whom receive a special tarot card telling them to meet at a mysterious apartment, where a plan awaits them. A year later, they come out with a new magic act, calling themselves “The Four Horseman.” Their first act steals millions of dollars from a bank in France, so the FBI are soon on their trail. However, as their act suggests, the closer they attempt to investigate their acts, the easier the Horsemen can slip through their fingers. But to what purpose are all of these acts being done? Why don’t the Horseman keep all the money? And who is the mysterious hooded figure who brought them all together, and for what purpose? There are no spoilers to be had here, but I will say that the ending is mostly satisfying…mostly being the key word.

The acting is strong, mostly because of the star-studded cast. There are the acting veterans of Michael Caine as the rich mogul Arthur Tressler and Morgan Freeman as the magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley, both who amazing jobs in their roles.  Mark Ruffalo as FBI agent Rhodes and Mélanie Laurent as French Interpol agent Vargas work well as a team, though their forced love towards the end ruined the dynamic of a great friendships. But the best acting of the film, in my humble Internet film critic opinion, are the Four Horsemen. Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher have great chemistry as two ex-partners and possible lovers, and Woody Harrelson makes a fantastic mentalist. Dave Franco, surprisingly, comes off surprisingly strong as the slight-of-hand expert Jack Wilder, and is probably my favorite of the magicians of the group. These characters, sadly, don’t get a lot of character development which is a real shame because they are the most interesting. Oh well, at least they look good.

Those these are the best looking street magicians you'll ever meet.

Those these are the best looking street magicians you’ll ever meet.

The film has amazing technical and special effects in order to bring the magic to the silver screen. I’m not sure how the effects would translate into real life, like the floating scarves, because it seems almost too CGI to be done practically. However, once the tricks
 are explained by Morgan Freeman’s character, a lot of them seem grandiose
 but actually are doable. I give the writers and designers credit for
being able to create elaborate, fun tricks without making them too 
convoluted.

Yeah, you know, the ole woman-stuck-in-a-tank-of-water-whilst-piranhas-are-dropped-on-her bit. A real classic.

Yeah, you know, the ole woman-stuck-in-a-tank-of-water-whilst-piranhas-are-dropped-on-her bit. A real classic.

Additionally, there are a lot of fun, fast-paced chase scenes that
 don’t drag on unnecessarily no help to connect the narrative of the
magicians to that of the FBI. One of the best confrontation scenes
occurs between FBI agent Rhodes and Horseman Jack Wilder. The scene is 
amazingly choreographed, using magical tricks like flaming cards, and 
an ingenious move of trapping a jacket in a disposal drain. While I
 know the majority of the stunt work was done by trained professionals
and not by the actors themselves, it’s still really impressive.

 Usually I am not really a big fan of the constant twists, but for a 
movie in which the entire premise is to deceive the audience, I found it 
was incredibly enjoyable. Each new twist was both somewhat expected 
and satisfyingly surprising. Usually a cinephile like me can more or
 less guess where a big blockbuster is going because, let’s be honest 
here, all the good twists have been used up by the innovative films.
 Still I was pleasantly surprised by the small tricks thrown in here
and there to keep the plot interesting without being cheap or over
dramatic.

That being said, I wasn’t all that impressed with the ending. It left 
too much open for my taste, especially what happens to the Four Horsemen. The issue with magician movies is that you either explain all of it, or leave it a complete mystery. Explaining some things, but leaving others, like an entire secret organization, completely unexplained only leaves more questions and confusion. What happens to the Horsemen after they join? Do they disappear? What do they do within the organization? How do they still exist? Not to mention, we know there’s a character who is not what they appear, but once their past and true identity are revealed, all the character development throughout the film is thrown out the window since it was just an act.

Yup, all that character development, up in a puff of smoke.

Yup, all that character development, up in a puff of smoke.

Now You See Me is a fun film which uses amazing special effects to dazzle and amaze the audience. It is a movie that will likely hold your attention the entire time, and you’ll be smiling too. Honestly, it’s a great movie to see with friends so long as you’re prepared not to nitpick on little issues and flaws, or looking for a deep plot. It’s a great summer blockbuster and I highly recommend you give it a watch.

Pros:

– Great acting.

– Great special effects.

– Strong plot.

Cons:

– Lackluster ending.

– Little character development for the magicians and dropping development for some characters.

Rating:

rating40

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Starshine5050

As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!

Latest posts by Starshine5050 (see all)

Starshine5050

As just a regular, hard-working work, often-stressing, procrastination-mastering history and journalism student, I often turn to the silver and small screens for relief, even though I'm only an average cinema-and-television loving viewer, commenting on what, and does not, makes good entertainment. I love horror everything - book, TV shows, games, movies - even though they frighten me terribly. I'm a long time believer of the old saying "When life gives you lemons, don't take life's lemons! Give the lemons back!" So, onward I go, returning lemons and logging an unhealthy amount of screen time for your enjoyment. So please be sure to read my stuff and let me know what you think, I'm alway looking to improve and be the best, most cynical critic I can be!

2 Comments:

  1. * A* That's good to know, I really wanted to see it but I guess I'll just wait for le dvd then!

  2. Good review. Could have been way better and smarter, but still a bit of fun for what it is.

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