Now You See Me (2013)

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Directed By: Louis Leterrier

Written By: Ed Solomon, Boaz Yakin, and Edward Ricourt 

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Melanie Laurent, Isla Fisher, Dave Franco, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman

Now you don’t…

Four of the nation’s greatest magicians (Eisenberg, Harrelson, Franco, Fisher) are brought together by an unknown person, and instructed to do 3 grand shows. They get financial backing from a multi-millionaire insurance company owner (Caine), and before the film is 20 minutes in, they are doing their first sold-out  show in Las Vegas. In this first show, they, “rob,” a bank using their magician skills. Don’t worry: This movie does not actually believe in magic, well not really at least. The film then goes on a roller coaster ride through the story of the 4 magicians, the FBI crew (Ruffalo, Laurent) that tries to stop them, and one magic debunker (the one and only Morgan Freeman).

Louis Leterrier direction brings a fresh, new feeling to this story that shares those qualities. His visual crafting is part of what draws viewers in for the 115 minute ride. Right from the beginning, Leterrier knows what direction he wants to take the film. Having a vision as a director is imperative to critical success of a film. Of course director’s need far more than vision, but that is one aspect that Louis Leterrier thrives in capturing. His flaws lie in the action sequences, but fortunately, we don’t see too much of those.

The trio of writers, find success in the basic plot line, but as the plot begins to develop, viewers will see their flaws. The attempt to be too witty and tricky is found far too often, especially in the mystery/thriller genre. While Now You See Me is no exemption, it’s strengths out weigh its weaknesses in writing department. The film struggles with knowing when to stop, and ends up making far too many twists for its own plot. The script, however; can be very witty, and at times the motor behind the film.

Highly talented actor, Jesse Eisenberg, in Now You See Me

Highly talented actor, Jesse Eisenberg, in Now You See Me

The cast, not surprisingly, is the strongest aspect of the film. The film is flowing with some of my personal favorite actors including Eisenberg, Harrelson, Freeman, and Caine. The entire cast fulfills their roles perfectly. Without this entire cast, driven by Jesse Eisenberg, the film would inevitably drown in its own flaws. The cast turns a mediocre film into a good film, and that is how it always should be. In this modern day, there is no excuse for poor acting. Casting directors have enough people to choose from. Oh, and more quality roles for Jesse Eisenberg, anyone? When Jesse is on, he might be my favorite young actor in the business.

Overall, Now You See Me will thoroughly entertain its viewers, and will leave them feeling as if it was $12 well spent. That is given that these viewers recognize that it is May, and entertainment is simply all you can ask for. The film’s pros ultimately outweigh its cons, and eh, who doesn’t love a little bit of magic?

IMDb: 7.5/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 47%

Metacritic: 50/100

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 73/100

Mud (2013)

Mud Banner Poster

Directed and Written By: Jeff Nichols

Starring: Matthew McConaughey, Tye Sheridan, Jacob Lofland, Reese Witherspoon

Well that was a hell of a lot more than just a coming of age story…

Taking place just off the Mississippi river in Arkansas, Mud is a story told through the eyes of two 14-year-old boys (Sheridan and Lofland). One day when they are exploring an island that is conveniently only inhabited by one man that is oddly known by everybody as Mud (McConaughey). Even the man that raised him (Shepard) only knows him as Mud.. strange. Well then again one of the main characters is named Neckbone, so I guess that’s just what they do in Arkansas. Mud is a wanted murderer that is being hunted by both the police and a group of bounty hunters. Mud follows his plans of pursuing his love, Juniper (Witherspoon), and sends the boys to deliver messages for him. I’ll stop myself there to prevent from giving away too much of the film, but Mud is one hell of an Indie.

Coming from the director of Take Shelter, I was anticipating quite a lot out of Mud. The story sounded great, it was accepted into Cannes, and it starred one of todays’ biggest actors: Mud had everything going for it. Jeff Nichols wrote a powerful script. From what I’ve heard, there was hardly any modifications from the rough draft to the script used during filming. This shows a director with a vision, which is something that viewers should always appreciate. A writer/director with his confidence is a beautiful thing. While there are plot holes that can be found inside Mud, the writing is fantastic for it being only his 3rd directoral effort. We saw it with Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild last year, and we are seeing with Jeff Nichols’ Mud this year. Sundance has gotten two of the best young filmmakers the last two years, and if this is things are going then we have a bright future for cinema. Nichols’ writing/directing shows confidence, but whether or not it pays off is a matter of opinion. Personally I loved the way he went with Mud.

The Brains Behind 'Mud' in order from left to right: Jacob Lofland, Jeff Nichols, Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey, and Tye Sheridan

The Brains Behind ‘Mud’ in order from left to right: Jacob Lofland, Jeff Nichols, Reese Witherspoon, Matthew McConaughey, and Tye Sheridan

I’m not ashamed to admit that I have jumped on the McConaughey bandwagon. His acting is great, and I appreciate that he now takes roles that speak to him instead of roles that will make him money. He has identified that his Rom-Com days are over, and he will now do the dramatic acting that he always wanted to do. After all, he’s pretty damn good at it. His performance in Mud makes me appreciate him even more. After seeing the film, I would not want anyone else to play Mud.

Tye Sheridan and Jacob Lofland are both performances worthy of sharing screen time with McConaughey. Similar to Nichols and Zeilin in directing: Quvenzhane Wallis and these two boys show tremendous potential in front of the camera.

When I got word of Reese Witherspoon’s involvement, I was skeptical to say the least. I don’t like her as a person after reading about her arrest last month, and I think her acting is mediocre at best. She does not have enough screen time to have much effect on the movie, but for her minor role she gives an above average performance. It’s also a flaw in the script that such a major part of the story receives not attention at all. The viewer struggles to care about Juniper, and the girl that is being fought for just comes across as a hot mess.

The writing had a few too many loose ends for my taste, and the ending felt rushed and ultimately underwhelming. I commend Jeff Nichols for his ambition, but his writing could have been a bit better. The script is incredible for almost all of the film, but the ending does get scrappy. The good thing is that the movie fails to give you the Hollywood treatment, and leaves the viewer with a satisfying, but believable conclusion.

Overall, Mud is the best 2013 release so far, and it will not waste viewers time. Mud is a beautifully crafted film, and it is the first movie this year that sparks any Oscar hopes. While an April release is unlikely to receive recognition, I would not be surprised to see something for McConaughey and maybe, just maybe, a Best Picture nod. It’s a long shot, but expect to hear Mud’s name thrown around come January 2014. It’s a coming of age film that goes far beyond what the genre suggests. Mud has something for everyone, and should be seen by everyone.

IMDb: 7.9/10

Rotten Tomatoes: 98/100 😀

Metactic: 76/100

Best Picture Movie Reviews: 82/100

In Theaters this Week (April 19-25)

 

Expectation 60/100

Expectation 60/100

Oblivion has been a back and forth battle in my head as to what I expect out of the film. When I first read the premise, I was expecting something around the same quality level as Cruises 2011 action flick Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. Then, I heard that one of my favorite actors, Morgan Freeman, was on board for the project, which vastly increased my expectations. After seeing the trailer, I was  more confused about where the film was going than when I had just read the prologue. The story for Oblivion seems to be all over the place, and one can only hope that the film does not share this characteristic. Expect it to be visually stunning in IMAX, but I’m not convinced that it will be worth the $17 IMAX admission price. It’s making itself out to be the start of summer blockbusters, but we all know that honor goes to Iron Man 3. I don’t expect much out of Oblivion, and I can only hope that it proves me wrong.

It has been a quarter of a century since the release of Rain Man, and still no one wants to compete with Tom Cruise at the box office. Oblivion is the only major release this week.

In Theaters this Week (April 12-18)

78/100

77/100

The most highly anticipated release this week, 42, has already been reviewed by Best Picture Movie Reviews. To see that review click here.

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Expectation: 10/100

I hate nothing more than bad movie parodies making fun of movies that are already bad movies. The Scary Movie has died out (if it was ever living), and hopefully its lack of box office success will teach the studio to stop with these films. It’s washed out, and it was never funny in the first place. Not to mention that the main writer left to go work on ‘A Haunted House’, which did surprisingly well in the January box office.

Next week we get a major blockbuster starring one of the worlds biggest stars.

Have Movies Gotten Longer?

As I was telling my father about the fantastic Django Unchained  he immediately asked me how long it was. 2 hours and 45 minutes was my response, and he said, “oh of course, movies just keep getting longer.” That comment was my inspiration behind jumping on my computer, and researching the length of movies. This bring me to the question: 

Have Movies Gotten Longer?

I figured that the best way to jude would be to base this off of best picture nominees at the Oscars, as those are typically the most memorable films of the year. I averaged the 10 best picture nominees from each decade until the age that my Dad would have started watching movies (around 1980). Once I got to 1980, I averaged 10 films from every 5 years. Lastly, I took the average of the three most recent years (2010, 2011, 2012). These were the average lengths of the films in each of the given years…

  • 1929-1932: 104
  • 1940: 116
  • 1950-1951: 119
  • 1960-1961: 144
  • 1970-1971: 134
  • 1980-1981: 134
  • 1985-1986: 126
  • 1990-1991: 140
  • 1995-1996: 129
  • 2000-2001: 138
  • 2005-2006: 126
  • 2010: 112
  • 2011: 125
  • 2012: 135

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Are Movies Getting Longer? No.

If we went back to our Algebra 1 days… this graph would be deemed as no correlationIt looks like this was an appropriate saying if you lived in the 50’s, but in modern cinema, no. Just because you see a few lengthy movies in a row, that does not mean that they are getting longer.

In Theaters this Week (March 22nd-28th)

'Olympus has Fallen'

‘Olympus has Fallen’ (40/100)

Is this what is now considered entertaining? I just can’t see myself spending the time to go see a film that is designed around such a poor idea. ‘Olympus’ just looks like a low-budget superhero film, but without superheroes. There seems to be nothing new in ‘Olympus has Fallen’. This is the kind of film that people reference when they claim that the industry is dying. It’s unoriginal and makes excessive use of CGI. Despite the a-listers, I don’t expect too much out of this release. My Expectation: 40/100

'The Croods'

‘The Croods’ (70/100)

Something that I do not think I have mentioned since starting this site is that I am a fan of animation. While most of it is, by my standards, crap, a few times a year you stumble upon an animated film that is actually worth watching. ‘The Croods’ looks like it may be one of those films. Even though it looks like we will see some 10 year-old humor lying within the plot, ‘The Croods’ looks like a fresh take on the animated comedy genre. It does not appear to be on the same level as some of Dreamworks other films (‘How to Train your Dragon’, ‘Shrek 1 & 2′), but it looks like it will be a strong effort nonetheless. My Expectation: 70/100

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‘Admission’ (35/100)

Brace yourself because I am about to say something that may offend a lot of people.. I do not find Tina Fey very funny. With the exception of ‘Mean Girls’, her cinema efforts (‘Baby Mama’ and ‘Date Night’) have been utterly disappointing. ‘Admission’ looks to be in the same class as the two previously mentioned films. I expect to see a decently funny comedy, but nothing to get excited about. Not to mention that Paul Rudd is one of the most annoying actors in the comedy business. My Expectation: 35/100

Next week, my most highly anticipated film this year comes out! It looks like next week will be the one good week that stops March from being a total disaster.

In Theaters this Week (March 8th-14th)

March 8th

ozgreatandpowerful-thirdposter-fullWhen I saw the trailer for ‘Oz The Great and Powerful’, my heart screamed Alice in Wonderland (produced by the same man), and I think that the movie itself will be equally as disappointing. It will be visually stunning, but as for character development and depth it seems like it will be lacking. This movie is based upon a classic tale, but don’t expect anything classic out of the film. It is Disney, so it will have some strengths… It will look great visually , have a great score done by Danny Elfman (4 time oscar nominee), and of course it will look “expensive”. $200 Million dollars is a lot of money to spend on a movie, and honestly ‘Oz’ does not look like it was worth it. My Expectation: 50/100

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It seems that this movie has really gone under my radar. It wasn’t until I was going through the list of coming soon movies that I even noticed it. After watching the trailer, it does look like it might give real New Yorker’s a very homey feel. It looks like it does not take you into the touristy parts of New York, but instead takes you right into reality. Other than that, I did not see much to get excited about from Dead Man Down. In fact, the only thing that kept me from writing it off altogether was the director, Neils Ardin Oplev; however, the movie is produced by WWE studios, so really how much can you expect? My Expectation: 40/100

emperor-posterEmperor did not realize quite how lucky they got with the casting of Tommy Lee Jones. This is Jones’ first movie since coming off of Lincoln where he was nominated for an academy award. He was the favorite, but he ended up losing to one of the stars of Django Unchained, Christoph Waltz. Emperor had a trailer that got me excited, but all the reviews that I have seen have stated that the movie is a let down. It seems  like it will improve your historical education, but apparently nothing more than that. After doing a search, I could only find two theaters that are showing Emperor (I live in Los Angeles), so if your living in a smaller town, you might be out of luck. My Expectation: 55/100

Nothing to get too excited about this week.