Now You See Me– 1 and 2

Sequels are rarely equals to hit movies. This is my maxim for today. This is especially the case when there is a considerable time lapse between the original movie (in this case in 2013) and the sequel, and all the more the case when you change the cast of characters, in this case the female member of the 4 Horsemen is not the same in this summer’s release of Now You See Me 2, hence continuity issues for OCD minded viewers. So, how do you overcome these difficulties? Well you bring in Harry Potter, of course. For the record Ann and I thoroughly enjoyed both movies. This mini series is better than say the Illusionist, if you like movies about magicians, in this case movies about teams of magicians. And the cast is excellent– including Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo,Michael Caine and Jesse Eisenberg in both films. If you are not looking for profundity, or in some cases plausibility, then these movies are good summer fun. The illusions and magic tricks were apparently vetted with David Copperfield, and some of them are spectacular, and actually doable. The sequel received more critique than the first movie for being too long, and involving implausible card tricks, but this is a movie about illusions, you need to suspend your disbelief a bit. Daniel Radcliffe is a nice extra element in the sequel, but it’s not a lot of fun watching him play a bad guy. Beware of actors who try to move on from iconic roles by trying to shatter their former persona by playing exactly the opposite kind of character. This frequently back fires. Here is the official summary tease for the movie…

“THE FOUR HORSEMEN (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan) return for a second mind-bending adventure, elevating the limits of stage illusion to new heights and taking them around the globe. One year after outwitting the FBI and winning the public’s adulation with their Robin Hood-style magic spectacles, the illusionists resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is none other than WALTER MABRY (Daniel Radcliffe), a tech prodigy who threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet. Their only hope is to perform one last unprecedented stunt to clear their names and reveal the mastermind behind it all.”

I do not think the movie is too long (115 minutes), nor do I agree with most of the whining by the critics. Now You See Me 2 is refreshingly lacking bad language, lurid scenes, unnecessary violence and completely unlikable heroes. In fact, I would say this movie is fine for taking your older children to see, older because the illusions required careful attention and thought, they would just be bewildering to younger children. There are not many movies this summer that aren’t straight up kiddy faire (think Finding Dory) that the whole family might enjoy, but this is one of them.

P.S. We saw these movies in reverse, and it was still fun. You can go see the sequel first, and still go back and appreciate the first film on DVD or Netflix.