Sunday, July 03, 2016

Now You See Me 2

Stupid 24-hour MoviePass rule; somehow I spazzed out and forgot that I couldn't use it for a 3:40pm show after having seen So I Married My Anti-Fan the night before. I think I was just so excited about actually being able to get out of work at the time of the pre-holiday early release (because we're all working from home until something like mid-August) that my enthusiasm to actually catch something before going to the ballgame at 7pm, even if it was the probably-not-very-good sequel to a movie I didn't particularly like, blotted this fact out.

Which meant I was really looking at the price I was paying at a multiplex for the first time in a while, and... $12.49 for a pre-4pm ticket, compared to $13.99 after? Yikes. Do I even want to know what my friends in Maine are paying?

Now You See Me 2

* ¾ (out of four)
Seen 1 July 2016 in AMC Boston Common #6 (first-run, DCP)

There are both optimistic and pessimistic reasons not to give the sequel to 2013's Now You See Me the obvious title of "...Now You Don't". In the case of it being another box-office success, there's no obvious place to go for a third entry; in the case that it's not, you don't exactly want to hand the jerks who right headlines for trade publications anything too obvious. They might as well have gone for it, since there's not exactly enough material for a sequel, and the original was not good enough to just do it again without something new.

Sadly, my theory that revenge-seeing mastermind slash FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) killed his accomplices/dupes off-screen at the end of the first movie turns out to not be the case; the lot of them are now working for "The Eye", a secret society that Rhodes apparently didn't make up last time. They've been in hiding for the past year, training, but are summoned to expose how a new smartphone will completely decimate piracy. It goes completely wrong, with showman J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), mesmerist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), card sharp Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), and new recruit Lula (Lizzy Caplan) sliding down a disposal chute in New York and somehow coming out in Macau, where mysterious tech baron Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) blackmails them into trying to steal the chip that they had intended to expose, with Rhodes trying to track down what went wrong with the help of Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), the professional debunker he left holding the bag in the previous year's caper.

For reasons quickly glossed over, Henley Reeves is no longer part of the group, and it's weird that Isla Fisher and Melanie Laurent are considered expendable/replaceable but the filmmakers just have to bring back Michael Caine's character despite the film not needing more in the way of villains, right? Maybe the ladies just weren't available, and while Michael Caine at 83 is no longer so afraid of unemployment that he'll take anything, he apparently still likes to keep working and does make his scenes better. There are some other things about the sequel that come off as strange, though, like how they set a large chunk of the film in Macau, even having everyone in the Cantonese-speaking city speak Mandarin to hopefully appeal to the Chinese market, but don't give Taiwanese star Jay Chou much to do at all. "The Eye", prviously said to be the guardians of real magic, are now apparently just a secret organization that uses illusionists like "The Horsemen" as vigilantes - though not so secret that they won't project their Eye-of-Horus logo into the sky like they were trying to summon some sort of Egyptian-themed Batman.

Full review on EFC.

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