HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Now You See Me
HTS Overall Score:82
With all the Hollywood blockbusters being released this summer “Now You See Me” just slipped in under the radar without much fanfare. Almost like a magic trick it just appeared in theaters with minimal trailers and a stellar cast. I actually thought it was some direct to video release when I saw the first trailer on a Blu-ray disc back a few months ago until I looked a little closer at the cast list. With Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Isla Fisher with Mark Ruffalo…this was no DTV movie. Upon first glance it seemed that it was a show about magicians, I’m cool with that, I love movies that deal with the art of Illusion. “The Illusionist” comes to mind as one of my favorites along with “The Prestige”. As more trailers came out I realized that there was more than meets the eye here, maybe we weren’t looking at your typical illusionist movie, but something a bit more supernatural. Definitely intrigued I happened to forget about the theatrical release date so I was forced to wait till the home video release. With such limited marketing I was worried that we had a real stinker on our hands here, luckily for us it’s far from the fact. Light and fluffy, with a bit of a rug pulled out from underneath the viewer, it’s still a fun and entertaining film that’s great to just watch unfold.
4 street magicians, some past their prime, and some in the height, get a mysterious tarot card, summoning them together. No one of them knows who brought them together and for what purpose, all they know is that they’ve been given a gift, a gift they can’t squander. One year later all 4, Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) have formed a illusionist group known as the four horsemen. They came out of nowhere and gained wild esteem among fans and peers alike as creating a show so mind boggling that no one can seem to unravel the mystery of their tricks. Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) has been stalking their shows, trying to unravel their secrets for months. It seems that he owns a show that exposes Magician’s tricks on public television and would make a fortune if he would just show the world HOW these mysterious four members are doing their tricks.
In their latest Vegas show the 4 horseman mysteriously rob a bank in France, all while staying on stage. This attracts both the notice of the FBI and Interpol. FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) is saddled with a young Interpol agent, Alma Dray (Melanie Laurent) in trying to bring the 4 horseman to justice… if they can find out HOW they pulled it off. The Horseman don’t just stop at robbing the bank, but in their shows end up ripping off their boss, as well as stealing a safe full of money right from under the FBI’s nose. The more Agent Rhodes and agent Dray look deeper and deeper, the more they realize just how much they’re getting the wool pulled over their eyes. These tricks defy logic, defy science, and even defy the rules of religion and mysticism at times.
“Now You See Me” is a bit of a mixed bag. It has some blatant flaws up front. The plot is sometimes explained a bit TOO much for my taste and there’s some missed moments. Ruffalo is decent as Agent Rhodes, but tends to sleep walk through the film. Isla Fisher and Melanie Laurent stand out as the worst of the lot though, nothing wildly bad, they just seem awkward in their roles and Laurent over acts a bit much. All that aside, the movie is still wildly entertaining in its own right. It does a fantastic job at keeping you wondering just how much of this is illusion and how much of this is ACTUAL magic. The film teases you one way only to have the rug ripped out from under you and then teases you back the other way, making you constantly guess. Even at the end there is just enough delicious ambiguity that actually makes you wonder “are they truly magicians, or are they illusionists”? The tricks are fantastical, yet very plausible, and the only one who seems to truly know ALL the answers is the mysterious benefactor. Which actually was quite well done. I rarely don’t see it coming, but the ending twist ACTUALLY caught me completely by surprise.
The film relies on hoaxes and misdirection. As they say in the movie “the closer you look, the less you see”. There’s some obvious clues dug into the plot that may lead you in the right direction, but the film is VERY DENSELY written and does a good job at holding the cards close to the vest, even among all of Morgan Freeman’s gestating on “whodunit”. I will say that this is one of those films that tends to lose its luster a bit once it’s been watched, but it’s definitely a fun movie the first time around and even amidst the decreased enjoyment a second time around, there’s enough hidden in the film to warrant a second or third viewing just to pick up all those little clues you missed the first time.
Rated PG-13 for language, some action and sexual content
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12669[/img]“Now You See Me” was shot with on 35 mm film and with a lot of stage lighting, so as a result it has a very unique feel to it. The majority of the film is purely fantastic, with beautifully saturated (sometimes oversaturated) outdoor scenes and some deeply dark indoor shots that are punctuated only by stage lighting. The film has a cornucopia of dimly lit, indoor shots and there are some scenes that suffer because of it, some fine detail is lost due to black crush, but for the most part the blacks are inky and deep without too much fine detail lost. Detail is absolutely fantastic, whether it be up close facial shots or the stunning skyscraper shots of New York City, all are replicated beautifully. I noticed a few instances of softness, but that is pretty much nonexistent but for discerning viewers. Colors are nice and rich throughout, deep blacks, blues and oranges litter the landscape. Club scenes and those stage scenes with a ton of strobe lighting look absolutely resplendent and I could not wish for a better picture. Besides those minor irritations of black crush and miniscule amounts of softness the picture is night perfect.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12668[/img]The audio was simply stunning as well. Deeply nuanced, it is not a track that is going to hit you in the face ala “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” or “Oblivion”, instead we have a subtle track that skips across all ranges. Dialogue is clean and centered, rich when needed, and sharply amplified when on stage across hundreds of people. Surrounds are used extensively, but very rarely blaring from all sides. The soft subtle sounds of New York city, bustling all around come through and when needed, they light up with bombastic joy amidst a street chase and a full on fisticuffs match. LFE is beautiful and restrained for the most part, winding its way in and amongst the soundtrack rising from highs to lows, softly accentuating footsteps and doors only to explode onto the scene with cars crashing all around us. While the sound track wasn’t pulsing with action and LFE it was the intricacies of the track that impressed me, the subtle changes of pitch, the panning of the front soundstage, all were well balanced and integrated into the experience, nothing really drawing attention to itself, but allowing all aspects of the track to shine through into a homogenous mixture.
• Audio Commentary with Producer Bobby Cohen and Director Louis Lettelier
• "Now You See Me" Revealed
• A Brief History of Magic
• Deleted Scenes
My best friend happens to be a magician, so I’ve been privy to seeing how a lot of illusions are done, and like the film, if you look too closely you’ll miss the point. The fun of the movie is sitting back and just letting the spectacle unfold, to be confused at some points, gasp in realization the next. Looking too closely will just either confuse or reveal just a little too much. Like a pizza pie, the movie is full of empty calories, but it’s a fun experience nonetheless. With such great audio and video scores it’s a treat for the eyes and ears and is a fun little movie that like a good magic trick, can just sneak up on you. Recommended for at least a watch.
Starring: Jessie Eisenberg, Common, Mark Ruffalo, Isla Fischer, Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Louis Leterrier
Written by: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 7.1, Spanish DD 5.1, English DD 2.0
Studio: Summit Entertainment
Runtime: 125 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Sept 3rd, 2013
Buy Now You See Me Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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