Friday, June 7, 2013

Theatrical Review: Now You See Me

Now You See Me (2013) Poster

Date: Wednesday June 5, 2013
Location: Pocono Movieplex
Time: 2:00pm
Duration: 115 minutes (+3 trailers)
Party: 1

Director: Louis Leterrier
[notable credits: The Incredible Hulk, Clash of the Titans]

J. Daniel "Danny" Atlas- Jesse Eisenberg
FBI agent Dylan Rhodes- Mark Ruffalo
Merritt McKinney- Woody Harrelson
Henley Reeves- Isla Fisher
Jack Wilder- Dave Franco
Interpol agent Alma Dray- Melanie Laurent
Thaddeus Bradley- Morgan Freeman
Arthur Tressler- Michael Caine

[Coming Attractions]

I got to the theater early. The only other person who came for a ticket happened to be going to the same picture. Our degree of interaction ended with the ticket booth.

When it comes to smaller studios like Summit Entertainment (best known for producing the Twilight series), you come to expect to see the same trailers repeatedly.
I saw "Red 2" during "Warm Bodies," yet another reminder I should see the original because the sequel looks pretty cool. Maybe it'll give Bruce Willis back some winning box office numbers (seeing as he was dubbed a caricature of himself by fans and critics alike in his latest "Die Hard").

Another common thing with theaters in general- there's almost a guarantee they'll show the same trailers everywhere no matter. How many times must I say "no" to "The Lone Ranger" b4 they get the point? :-P

But kicking it all off helped fill the void I started to feel at the reminder I'd never see another trailer for the latest "Twilight" film:
They showed the first ever trailer of the newest "Hunger Games"... and it looks awesome! Absolutely can't wait.

[Other Reviews and Ratings]

Several of the critics on gave this movie an average grade of a C/C-.
Richard Roeper only gave it 1.5 stars.
I'm willing to bet that if Ebert was still with us, he wouldn't have liked it either.

Yet the average ranking on IMDB is 7.4 stars out of 10.

It's fair to say that there is a HUGE gap between what critics deem acceptable and what movie goers think.


Going back to the discussion of the movie trailers, it doesn't get much better than this scenario:
Often times, the first I hear about stand-alone movies (i.e. not part of a franchise, from a major studio) is at the movies in the trailers. Every now and then, at average this happens once a year for me, I see a trailer that has me absolutely stoked about a movie. It might not hit theaters for several months, but I never forget that initial excitement.

I saw this trailer in November. It didn't have a release date, but I couldn't wait to see it.

It was the combination of the premise and the all-star cast that caught my attention and with each commercial, I got more and more excited.
And for a brief moment, I considered backing out. a) because "The Internship" was coming out on Friday (and Owen Wilson's interview on "Ellen" had me all the more excited for it), and b) the reviews had me worried I wouldn't like it.

...long story short, I should trust my own judgement a lot more.

[Overall Scope]

The biggest criticism was that this movie left us with more questions than answers... and 9 times out of 10, that's doesn't bother me.
I don't need to have everything explained to me and sometimes, things are best left unexplained because it takes away some of the magic.
And it also helps when I have so much fun watching a movie, unsure of where things are going to go, that even if things go bad in the final minutes, I accept it and say "thanks for giving me the thrill of it."

One commercial post-release includes a quote saying it was better than all three "Ocean's 11" films... I'd only seen the first one, which will have its mention of my countdown at some point, but even going on that one alone, I would have to agree...

The heists were better explained in "Ocean's 11," but "Now you see me" kept my attention a lot better.

As for the thriller aspect, regarding the chase scenes, they overdid it just a little bit. There was only one moment where I thought to myself "we need to have a break soon or the pacing for the rest of the movie will be out of proportion"... maybe two minutes after that, I was able to catch my breath when that scene ended.
It reminded me quite a bit of the Bourne film series, particularly the first one where the balance between action and non-action was at its best.

[The Cast]

I think the biggest factor that got me interested in the movie was the originality.
Right behind it was the cast.

I've liked Jesse Eisenberg since "Adventureland" and saw a few of his other roles LONG before "The Social Network"... he made Mark Zuckerberg look very jerk-ish, but he still had that same charisma I enjoy in his work.
Seeing him on the bill hooked me immediately.
His specialty is card tricks and slight of hand.

Woody Harrelson has become one of my favorite actors since "The Hunger Games" and "Zombieland"... just something about his irreverence I can't get enough of.
His specialty- in his introduction scene, he shows his skills in the ways of the mind. Some of it can be pegged as being very observant, but others... you gotta see the scene to believe it, it's a jaw-dropper. All part of this guy's charm.

Isla Fisher, I'd already mentioned her a few times.
Her character was the former assistant of Jesse Eisenberg's. In her scene, she was handcuffed in a tank full of water... not your grandfather's Houdini and, a word of caution, not for the faint-hearted.

Dave Franco, I know next to nothing about, other than the fact he's James Franco's younger brother.
He plays a skilled pick-pocket and seemingly the least experienced as a magician, but he's also not to be underestimated.

You get a good look at each of them in the first couple minutes, all of their endeavors are being watched by someone in a hoodie (whose identity is revealed... eventually). Each one gets a tarot card, inviting them to the same location and they are commissioned by an anonymous benefactor to pull off these heists.
The movie fastfowards a year later where they are united as "The Four Horseman."

Then you have the "veteran" actors.
Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, you can always count on to be great.

Even though he was playing the antagonist to the protagonists, I was looking forward to seeing Mark Ruffalo just as much. He did not disappoint at all 8-)

Another interesting addition is Melanie Laurent in, to my knowledge, her 2nd English-speaking character. She was a break-out star in "Inglorious Basterds," the only main character who didn't speak of a word of English.
She was sent by Interpol to assist Mark Ruffalo on the case dealing with these magicians.

They're hired to take the "Horsemen" in for questioning when their first magic show ends with them stealing millions of dollars in Euro from a French bank.
After that, they follow them from one magic show to another to uncover how they're pulling off their heists. On a number of occasions, Morgan Freeman, who makes his living unmasking magicians, gives them a little insight.

During these scenes, he appears to be right on the money. After a while, it got me down because it feels like he is literally sucking the magic out of the movie, making me doubt that all of these heists have logical explanations.

Thankfully, I found out that there is a LOT of truth to the movie's most memorable line:
"the closer you look, the less you'll see"
As great as the magic shows were, the best tricks happen beyond that.

Being a fan of crime-solving series like "Castle" and "Psych" and multiple versions of Sherlock Holmes, I kinda know what to expect with certain scenarios. But even then, there were some things I couldn't anticipate and it blew my mind.
Unpredictability is an invaluable asset in the movie industry.

For that reason, I'm not going to spoil the fun by giving it all away.
Let's just say that not even Morgan Freeman sees all.
And you gotta stay on top of all the details because in the end, each of them has their purpose.

Grade: A [about 3-4% points away from an A+]

P.S. I'm definitely getting this movie on DVD

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