Thursday, May 30, 2013

REVIEW: Now You See Me

One of my teachers from college wanted our class to define the word "cool." Cool, as in "Cool Brah, that was a sick a gnarly skateboarding stunt." And, really, the whole thing is that you can't really come up with a tangible thing and give a definite answer of why something is cool. It's really something that's whatever is trendy at the moment.

The definition I created was "What people want." I still stand by it too as it's about as tangible as you can get on describing what is cool.

I bring all of this up because the word "cool" can handily describe Now You See Me.

Now You See Me feels like a movie that's design to be the coolest movie ever. It's got a cast involving Jesse  Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo(The Hulk from The Avengers), Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, it's plot involves stealing money with flashy magic tricks, and the story is built off of twists, mysteries, surprises, and other pesky story telling tricks that have seemed to be popping up in every movie now. Usually, this seems like a movie that can go disastrously wrong. A movie that just sort of plugs in a lot of things in order to make this moving picture showing off a lot of flashy tricks to entertain the audience but also forgetting how to make a movie with an actual story(*cough* The Amazing Spider-Man *cough*)

But, somehow, they've manage to pull this off.

Now You See Me is thoroughly entertaining movie. I wouldn't necessarily say that it's a great movie, but it's a good movie that is worth watching and a lot of fun to watch. In fact, I'll even go on record by saying that this is a better movie than Star Trek Into Darkness(and I still can't get over how dumb that title is. Into Darkness? Seriously?). It's an entertaining fun romp that knows what it is and what it's trying to accomplish while doing it quite well.

Seeing the trailers, I really didn't know what to expect other than that it felt like it was going to be a sort of high concept film that involved stealing money with a magic show. And, that's basically what the entire movie is. Four supposedly great magicians get cards from a mysterious figure to all meet at the same place and to follow directions in order to pull of these highly elaborate heists. During the mean while, the movie follows Mark Ruffalo, an officer trying to stop these people in the act.

That's basically the entire setup of the movie. The rest goes of the movie is done through a lot twists and turns that'll keep you second guessing yourself, but the movie is never confusing and is easy to follow along. It does a really good job engaging the audience, and, unlike Oblivion, all of the turns and twists that happen in this movie aren't there just for the sake of being there as they actually mean something for the story. It gives a clear plot with a clear goal and characters with clear motivations. See Hollywood? It isn't that hard to make this crap work.

It's not that the movie doesn't have its problems though, as (like a lot of the magic tricks you're probably familiar with) there's nothing really to this movie. This is where the problem comes in when a movie is trying too hard to be cool, because, even if it's a really well made light show that's engaging all the way through, there's very little substance behind this movie even if it is a well told story.

The problem comes with the main cast itself as they aren't really characters but more of plot tools in order to make sure that stuff actually happens in the movie. In the respect of actually keeping the story moving forward, they serve their part really well. But, when you get past the fact that they're cool magicians with a lot up their sleeve and big on style, they are pretty paper thin as characters. Their only defining feature is the kind of magic they like to do. Jesse Eisenberg likes to do card tricks and deception, Woody Harrelson shares the same psychic powers as Shawn Spencer but with ability to hypnotize people as well, Dave Franco is the guy who picks locks, and Isla Fisher is the girl. Seriously, that's her only defining trait in this movie as she is never really given anything to do other than to just be the girl of the group. And then there's Melaine Laurent who is mainly there to be Mark Ruffalo's love interest. Jeez, thanks! Way to add female characters, who if you took out, wouldn't have any significant changes to the plot.

Also, it seems like the entire movie was shot with a hand held camera, and no matter what the scene was, even the quiet conversation scenes, the camera is a bit shaky. It's not an entirely big problem and it isn't all that noticeable, but I noticed it.

All problems aside, it's still a fun movie to go see that I'd say is a good time at the theater. Because of the lack of substance behind this movie, I doubt anyone is really going to remember that this movie even existed a few months down the line, but it's good enough for me to give a recommendation.

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