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Grimes & Rowe Watch a Movie: Now You See Me

By Storycarnivores @storycarnivores

now-you-see-me-promo-posterTitle: Now You See Me
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Distributed by: Summit Entertainment
Release Date: May 31, 2013
Rated: PG-13

Synopsis: An FBI agent and an Interpol detective track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money. (Via IMDB)

Brian: Now You See Me was a pretty good movie. Until it wasn’t. This is one of those rare films I enjoyed for the most part throughout its running time, but in the end can’t recommend, for a few reasons on a more general level, but for the most part because of its absurd twist ending and final head-scratching scene. This is a movie about magicians, so of course we as an audience have to expect to be tricked, but what I didn’t expected was to feel cheated. This film is an improvement over The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, but it still didn’t wow me like I hoped it would. The beginning of the movie works the best, the introductions to the four main characters, and the first big French bank heist presentation. The first 20 minutes crackle with the kind of ingenuity and energy I hoped would take us all the way to the end.

Shaunta: I had a weird experience with Now You See Me. I watched it in New York, on Times Square, with my daughter. The theater was crowded and animated, and I had a lot of fun. I didn’t have any expectations for the film, but during the time that I was watching it, I was pleasantly surprised. I was drawn in by the first magic trick and the introduction to the Four Horsemen. I enjoyed the debunking done by Morgan Freeman’s character. There’s a big twist at the end that totally took me by surprise (I’ll admit though, I’m super gullible when it comes to twists. I never see them coming.) The whole audience was into the movie to the point of cheering and gasping and that added to the atmosphere of entertainment for me. The last five minutes of the movie were total stinkers, but I left the theater thinking–wow, I really liked that. And then I started thinking about it. And the more I thought about it, the more holes there were. And I suppose, maybe, that’s fitting. As the film points out, magic is all about encouraging the tight view and trying to keep people from looking wider.

Brian: The film has a great premise, with lots of intriguing scenes and ideas, but it doesn’t all quite hold together in the end. The problems with the movie begin when the core characters disappear for a long chunk right after the second act. One of the joys of the film is the interactions between the head magicians (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, and Dave Franco), and even though these characters aren’t fleshed out as much as I would have liked (with motivations that are also a little unclear), the quieter moments in the movie when these characters just talk to each other offer great joy. (It doesn’t hurt that Eisenberg and Harrelson were so great together in 2009′s Zombieland.) What started disappointing me was how much the movie in the second half devolves into a routine cat-and-mouse caper movie, with even the tired old car chase thrown into the mix. But even with some reservations, I was still with this movie, until the big reveal. I’m all for a good twist ending, but this one just didn’t work for me, and I don’t think it would hold up very well on a second viewing. The last scene also ends the movie on an especially clunky note, and doesn’t give much closure for the viewer. I really wanted to love Now You See Me but unfortunately, with this one, the more I think about it, the less I like it.

Shaunta: I don’t think it’s fair to call car chases tired. The action aspects of the movie worked for me. The twist worked for me very much. It wouldn’t hold up on second viewing, because after you leave the theater, you’ll probably think back on it and find the problems. But on first viewing? It’s a good one. I wish you all could have been in my theater with me and heard the reactions from the audience. It was priceless. But, when you start to wonder why these four magicians put themselves at such great risk with absolutely no reward for themselves (presumably, not even professional rewards since after stealing billions of dollars, they’ll be in hiding for the rest of their lives) it starts to lose its shimmer. Just the way that thinking too hard about how magic  tricks are done causes them to lose their magic. The very end of the movie, which I can’t even describe without giving away the twist, was a huge disappointment for me and the start of the disillusionment. Overall though, I was absolutely entertained throughout all but the last five minutes of Now You See Me. The film is beautifully shot and well cast, and the Las Vegas and New York settings are lovely. It has its problems, but I still think it was worth seeing on the big screen–if only for the magic tricks.

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