Sunday Short Reviews

Every Sunday, Gill delves into his archive of over 800 movie reviews and randomly selects three for your enjoyment! Here are this week’s…

Now You See Me
This film tries to be Ocean’s 11 with magicians, and at times it succeeds, but unfortunately Now You See Me‘s plot doesn’t make any real sense, especially when it comes to the bungled third act twist. A group of four stage magicians are brought together by a mysterious, unseen fifth party who gives them the blueprints to not only pull off incredible tricks, but also make off with piles of money. Years later, this team of performers begins to execute their plans, leading a detective and an Interpol agent on a wild chase while at the same time thumbing their noses at Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. The team of magicians, played by Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco are all enjoyable characters, and even though the magic they perform is heavily enhanced by CGI and exaggerated to comic proportions (hypnotism might as well be a superpower), their antics are a lot of fun. Sadly, once the big twist highjacks the film, they are discarded and we never find out what happens to them. Now You See Me reminded me a lot of the National Treasure movies. It was an entertaining romp with some good sequences and an adventurous spirit behind it, but it falls apart under any sort of scrutiny.
2.5 out of 5

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
The Incredible Burt Wonderstone seemed like it was going to be a perfect storm of comedy elements. Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi play a Sigfried & Roy-type duo of Vegas magicians whose careers are put under threat by the new wave of extreme, horrific Criss Angel-type magic embodied by Jim Carrey. Carell’s Burt Wonderstone has a falling out with his partner and must turn to his childhood hero, played by Alan Arkin, to get his magic tricks back into shape. Sadly, the biggest problem with The Incredible Burt Wonderstone is that the majority of the jokes just don’t land, to the point where you can almost hear the crickets chirping. The character of Burt Wonderstone isn’t funny at all, and he takes far too long to be redeemed, so you just end up hating him. Jim Carrey’s Steve Grey: Brain Rapist provides some solid laughs, but most of these were spoiled in the trailers, and rather than him being shown up by Burt Wonderstone in the final magic competition, he just defeats himself. Secondary players Olivia Wilde, Alan Arkin and the late James Gandolfini are completely underutilized. Honestly, just skip this one, there are way better comedies out there.
2 out of 5

The Lone Ranger
Just call it Pirates of the Wild West, because that’s what The Lone Ranger is. Pirates director Gore Verbinski has teamed up with Johnny Depp and Disney once again, transforming another past-its-prime property into an action packed adventure film wherein Depp can do a lot of slapstick and act really weird. This time, Depp is playing Tonto, in a move that’s racially insensitive enough to be awkward, considering that there are actual Native American actors in the movie. Regardless of this, the fact is that Tonto is just Captain Jack Sparrow in redface and occasionally old age makeup. Armie Hammer’s Lone Ranger is likeable enough and makes a passable hero, but he’s clearly second fiddle to Tonto. There’s some plot about stopping an evil railroad tycoon, but it’s completely unimportant. William Fichtner eats a guy’s heart. For no reason, there are piranha rabbits. The best thing I can say about The Lone Ranger is that the two action sequence involving runaway trains are actually quite well executed. And that’s about all you need to know about this movie. Don’t bother watching – this is a waste of time.
1.5 out of 5

See you next Sunday for three more thrilling short reviews!

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