Monday, 24 June 2013

Now You See Me (2013)

Running Time: 115 mins
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman.
UK release date: 3rd July 2013.

Though it's not on the same 'wow' level as one of the summer blockbuster's that are being dealt out over the next few months (especially as it's four weeks since it's US release), Now You See Me is an attention-grabbing film to keep you, at least a little, interested throughout the development of tricks and illusions.

Review: Starting off from seeing each magician in their own environment finds us with Danny Atlas, the classic illusionist, Henley Reeves the woman in the water tank, Jack Wilder the lock picker and Merritt McKinney the hypnotist. These magicians are obviously talented, something a mysterious benefactor notices and leads them to form together. One year later, as the Four Horsemen, the group perform a huge magic act to a massive audience in Las Vegas, where they teleport a man from the audience to steal money from a Paris.

Because we see how they come together to form the Four Horsemen, it appears they're the ones to be rooting for; but when FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Ruffalo) is called to investigate their illegal magic tricks, are the magicians the good guys or bad? It's clever and it's this that works best for Now You See Me. Sure, Eisenberg's character is extremely arrogant, while there is a cause for sympathetic concern when Rhodes is 'beaten up' by one of their magic acts, but none of the characters are portrayed as being right or wrong. They're all equally important as main characters.

Now You See Me moves quickly, mirroring the intensity of trying so hard to be one step ahead of the story. The film's opening lines, 'the more you look, the less you see' clearly warn not to look too closely, but the mere mention to not try and work it out makes it all the more tempting. There are more parallels to the act of magic, not just the story trying to distract audiences from the truth. As if to mock big, fancy shows, the Now You See Me score is huge and extravagant, but it works. During the times when the magicians are performing, the music is over the top- like the act of a magic trick.

The popular cast are probably the element to reel in an audience for Now You See Me. It's a big array of well known acting talent from the previously mentioned Jesse Eisenberg and Mark Ruffalo to Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and the simply wonderful Mélanie Laurent, as well as the rest of the four horsemen, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, and Dave Franco. Ruffalo really is the star of the show, always nailing every line he delivers with either the comedy value or the sincerity of a man desperate to uncover the truth. It's sometimes distracting seeing so many big names in one scene, but they all bounce off each other well. That is when the script isn't getting in the way.

There are many funny, laugh out loud moments in Now You See Me (one big moment which is so perfectly timed, it's the highlight) but at times the script is laughable when it's not meaning to be. The story is intriguing and it moves at an exhilarating pace, but lines in the dialogue try to stand out and subsequently fall as boring, unimaginative add-ons.

It's hard not to compare Now You See Me with Christoper Nolan's The Prestige, a film about two rival magicians. The only real link is in theme of magic, everything else is extremely different, however they both have an impacting ending. The delivery of the ending for Now You See Me feels flat and rushed; it could have been much more spine tingling if executed right with better timing and delivery of 'it', but nonetheless it's very, very good.

Now You See Me is innocent fun. If you look too closely you can see, or rather hear, the flaws, but at the end of the day it's entertaining and despite the ending being flat I bet you didn't see that coming!

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Sunday, 16 June 2013

When Hugh Laurie made me cry

I'm emotional. That is something you learn about me quite quickly.

I've cried whilst reading a book, watching a TV show or film, even when listening to a song. It's not even sad stuff, quite often it's for happy things. However in this story, I cried because I was heartbroken. It's also the story about one of my earliest ever memories: my first cinema trip.

It was Christmas in a huge, dark room, and it was a family trip to the cinema to see 101 Dalmatians (the 'real' people one). My little 3 year old hands had melted chocolate on them as I ate my packet of malteasers, watching the story I knew so well but with actual Dalmatian puppies. Apparently, I was completely engrossed. I believe my love for cinema started early.

The 1996 101 Dalmatians is very much the same as the 1961, just live-action, so you'd think I wouldn't be surprised with what happens to the puppies. I was not ready for my heart to be broken so young.

The next thing from this memory I recall is stepping out of the dark room and into bright, burning lights as my Dad gave me a reassuring tap on my back, telling me everything was ok. My parents had no other option but to take me out of the screen, preventing a lot of angry parents complaining about the brat who wouldn't shut up (if only all parents thought this way). It's this part of the experience I remember so well; screaming and sobbing for these puppies who had been kidnapped by two mean, old men. I vividly  remember crying so much that my throat hurt. 

I don't know how long it took me to calm down, but I finished watching the film and I fell in love with this new way of watching films. It wasn't until my 4th or 5th re-watch of Stuart Little as a kid, that I realised Stuart's kind, loving father was the same man who made me cry.

Hugh Laurie.

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