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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Magic names and the media » » Now You See Me--A review (10 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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landmark
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I was lucky to see a preview of this new movie this evening, scheduled to open May 31st in New York. I would think that magic fans and their guests comprised a good deal of the audience as the tickets (my tickets, at least) were distributed through Tannen's Magic Shop. But no matter. The theater on Times Square was packed and the air was full of anticipation.

Bang. From the first minutes I was totally engrossed, and my interest didn't flag for a moment. Forget The Illusionist, forget The Prestige, definitely forget Burt Wonderstone, Now You See Me is the most entertaining and thrilling (Our) Magic-based film I've had the pleasure to see. The plot involves a foursome of magicians known as the Four Horsemen whose greatest trick is stealing from banks in public, while on stage. Like David Copperfield gone bad, they transport their spectators to foreign banks and have them return with the contents of the bank safes, which are distributed quite happily to all the audience members. This naturally p.o. the FBI and soon the Four Horsemen are playing a game of cat and mouse with the FBI where each side tries to get one and two and three ahead of each other. If you like movies like Sleuth and Deathtrap where the protagonists and antagonists are in a battle of wits with each other, then you'll appreciate much of this movie. But the movie is also a vastly entertaining action pic with car chases and explosions from Las Vegas to New Orleans to NYC to Paris.

And the magic? Well, the film starts off with a brilliant stroke--a mental riffle force performed ostensibly for one of the magicians' audiences, but the POV is such that it is also for audience in the movie theater. There is much stage magic, some of it CGI enhanced, but most of it still plausible from a conjuring point of view. Some of the offstage conjuring strains credulity, but by this time we are quite willing to have our credulity strained.

What I think will be most talked about are some of the performances. The creators of this movie have taken what I think is a very bold stance--one that may cost them a mainstream audience in my opinion. The protagonists are just not nice or loveable people. I think this violates a basic tenet of film-making: if you want to make a feel-good movie about people who engage in criminal activity, they have to be loveable. But the establishing scene for each character makes it clear that at least some of them are petty and nasty folk, with about as much empathy for their fellow human beings as the cast of Seinfeld. The plot is much more believable this way, but I think it may make it less popular. The good guys are no better than the bad guys; which maybe is okay since it's very unclear until the last minutes of the film just who the good guys or bad guys are.

Woody Harrelson, playing a cynical mentalist, is the clear standout in the cast. I think this performance will be noticed. I think every magician knows someone like this, but how Woody Harrelson got this character down so sharply is astounding to me. I don't think I've ever seen such a character portrayed on the screen before. The rest of the cast is also good, with Mark Ruffalo as a sleepy FBI agent, Isla Fischer and Jessie Eisenberg as two of the Four Horsemen, and Michael Caine as their wealthy benefactor. Morgan Freeman, as another master magician, does well with what he's given, but it is an underwritten role.

The magic consultants, according to the credits, were Chris Kenner, Homer Liwag, Keith Barry, among others, and Dan and Dave Buck did hand work. The guy I went with, a layman who enjoys magic, thought it was the best movie he had seen this year, which I hope is a good sign. Anyway, to sum it up, thoroughly enjoyable, fast-paced, tricky fun which should get an Oscar nomination or two if it's lucky. Highly recommended.
Bob1Dog
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Thanks landmark. For me The Prestige and The Illusionist remain the best, so I hope Now You See Me is equally as good or better. I look forward to seeing it and will look for the opening down here.
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Dennis Michael
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Thanks, Looking forward to seeing this movie.
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rockwall
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A really great review landmark without giving anything away. I have my suspicions about the plot's pivot point which I won't air here and I could be completely wrong on it but I'm very happy to here that you found the movie as enjoyable as you did.

I thought if funny that you compared the cast's with the cast of Seinfeld as a reason why you thought the movie may have trouble finding a mainstream audience. I get your point but wasn't Seinfeld one of TV's most popular shows? Removing the reference to Seinfeld, I would probably agree with your point. I actually thought that was also one of the major problems with Burt Wonderstone. Steve Carell was a supremely unlikable fellow.

Anyway, looking forward to this even more now. Thanks.
ChanCanasta
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Great review, really looking forward to seeing this, especially because of Woody Harrelson. From what I heard all his mentalism/hypnosis coaching & consulting came from Keith Barry which is interesting if his character is like you describe. Thanks for the review
Lothar
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Is there any actual magic performed?
stempleton
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Just returned from a "sneak" of the movie. And I have to completely, yet respectfully, disagree with landmark's evaluation of the film.

From a magic standpoint, CGI is the rule. Yes, there were stage illusions, but not without edits, so not real. I will agree the mental riffle was fun, but not enough to cover for the horrible dialogue and cardboard acting. Yep, even from such high profile stars. But I try to convince myself it was due to such a weak script. I was hoping for at least a strong plot (thinking "Oceans 11" vein) but that was also too much to ask for. And the climax? Even the finale to "Burt Wonderstone" was more believable (okay, maybe I exaggerate, but not by much.) And I won't even go into the all but nonexistent character development of the main characters...so who really cares anyway?

Riddled with clichés and cookie cutter plot elements (boy gets girl, extended car chase, Sherlock Holmes-esque dissectioned explanation) this movie will fall off the radar quickly.


As doers of the art, you will not be able to keep away from seeing this movie. Just set your expectation low.

Not as detailed a review as landmark's, but not intended to be. My three word summation of "Now You See Me?" "Now you shouldn't."
Magicus
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I enjoyed it quite a lot.

The Eye sure looked familiar ;-)
Pakar Ilusi
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I thought it was good.

Most I think will see it twice.

I ain't sayin' why. Smile
"Dreams aren't a matter of Chance but a matter of Choice." -DC-
Mindpro
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I too got to see a sneak preview of this movies. I liked it, but I wouldn't go expecting to see it for the magic, mentalism or hypnosis. It is simply used as the theme or enhancement to a story. I like how they used it. It plays very nicely to laymen, magicians will more than likely not be all that impressed. It was not intended to be a movie about magic, but a drama with the theme of a magic plot.

I liked the characters, some will say unbelievable or the magic could have been better portrayed, but again it was never to be about magic, but rather magic being a premise for something larger.

It would be worth checking out.
BrianMillerMagic
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I posted this elsewhere, but here it is too. My full review can be found here: http://bmmagic.tumblr.com/post/519698384......ler-free

"As a heist movie, it was utterly implausible. As a movie about magicians, it was utterly one-dimensional. But these are retrospect opinions, neither of which had time to enter my mind while watching it. It was a fast paced rush, like Ocean’s 11 on steroids. Visually spectacular and pure nonsensical fun..."
George Ledo
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We went to see it the other day. For the most part, we enjoyed it as go-to-the-movies entertainment, but for me it was almost like watching "Mission Impossible" or "Angels and Demons: " a totally overblown plot to accomplish something relatively simple. Too many loose ends. But entertaining anyway, in an edge-of-your-seat manner, and with lots of red herrings.

As stated above, the movie was not about magic, so the "reality" of the illusions didn't hit me one way or another. And there were some cliches which I could have done without, mostly because I didn't think they added anything to the story. I didn't particularly like the four magician characters, so I had no stake in whether they "won or lost" - I just didn't care.

It was fun, but I'll take "The Illusionist" over it anyday.
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Slim King
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I'm taking the family .....
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MagicalMotivator
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Just got back from seeing it - my 16 year old daughter (who's worked in the business since she's been 8) took me - we both really enjoyed it - it was great entertainment - we both would go see it again - regardless of the magic accuracy or technical realism, it made magic look and feel sexy and exciting (and I think will appeal to a broad spectrum) - go see it.

Rick
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kerpa
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I just got back from seeing NYSM and it was fantastic. I am not a pushover when plots are so-so: the plot was phenomenal. The acting was superb; there was nothing cardboard about it. Woody Harrelson was amazing, but so was everyone else.

There were illusion closers for each of the 3 major shows that were well integrated not only with the individual show but also with each other. They played huge,and they bore the clear stamp of David Copperfield, one of the consultants. I think he really got into it, and did his best to outdo himself.

There even was an insider reference to the Ricky Jay of yore, which I found very amusing. (I won't give that one away, but who else caught it?)

This was one great magical movie - a fine yarn & homage to magic.
Michael Miller
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Dannydoyle
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I disliked everything about it.
Danny Doyle
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kerpa
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Hey, Danny, ease up,it's just a story Smile
Michael Miller
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MagicalMotivator
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It's interesting - the way they set it up, the ending that is, a sequel can definitely be around the corner if it makes enough $ - it would also be neat to see someone like Eric Kripke (Supernatural, Revolution) spin this off into a series for the CW on TV e.g. "the 4 horsemen".

Rick
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Dave Scribner
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We just saw the movie yesterday. Interesting plot but a little over the top. Seemed like a combination of James Bond and MIssion Impossible but overall, a nice movie to watch on a rainy day. There are some questions I had when I left the theater but not enough to warrant spending another $10 bucks to watch it. I'll wait for the DVD or netflix.
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Dannydoyle
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Quote:
On 2013-06-07 21:38, kerpa wrote:
Hey, Danny, ease up,it's just a story Smile


And a HORRIBLE one. Ease up? Are I not entitled to an opinion or do I just have to love a ridiculously ludicris plot with a contrived ending?

Here is the question to ask yourself. Had they removed the alledged magic from the story line and the movie would you give it such glowing reviews?

But in the end please allow me my opinion if it is not too much trouble. I have after all allowed you yours.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
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