Now You See Me


Viewed – 20 September 2013  DVD

I love magic, from the likes of Penn & Teller to David Blaine and Cris Angel, so this was an easy pick for me.  Four famed street magicians are brought together by a mystery organization known as The Eye to use their skills at illusion to pull off a series of elaborate heists.  Yet an FBI agent (Mark Ruffalo) is hot on their heels, aided by a former magician (Morgan Freeman) who now hosts a TV  show exposing the secrets behind so called magic tricks.

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This is a very entertaining and cleverly plotted thriller, deftly put together by The Transporter’s Louis Leterrier and with several stand out performances, most notably the always interesting Mark Ruffalo and also Jesse Eisenberg, doing his geek/genius thing to perfection.  Also on hand is a sexy Isla Fisher and an enjoyably dead-pan Woody Harrelson.  For me the plot got a bit convoluted and some of the twists and turns were a little hard to swallow (especially the ending).  Also by exploring a subject many still consider steeped in mystery, the ‘magic’ goes a tad over the top and far fetched, with unnecessary use of CGI.  Also the motive for these clearly gifted illusionists turning to crime is not explored which I found hard to understand, especially when they clearly make them selves known for their crimes (?).

That being said the action, including an intense car chase and the illusions themselves make for a gripping and enjoyable experience over all, backed up by some very stylish looks.  Just a shame its all a bit too frantic and clever (or complicated?) for its own good.

Verdict: 3 /5

RIO


Viewed – 10 February 2012  DVD

It would be easy to pass off many animated movies these days as simply more of the same, and although this likable entry has the same old themes, such as believing in yourself, fish out of water etc, it has enough comedy, lush visuals and all round ‘fun’ to make it worth your while.  Blu is a rare breed Macaw, who having been captured by poachers as a baby, soon becomes the pet of a young girl.  Over fifteen years they become inseparable.  Then one day a wildlife expert spots Blu and offers to take him and his owner to Brazil where he knows about a female Macaw, and if they hit it off, it could mean the saving of the species.  That is until a band of ruthless smugglers intervene.

From the guys behind the Ice Age movies, this is a vibrant and instantly enjoyable movie.  The voice acting, whilst nothing special adds personality, with Jesse Eisenberg and Anne Hathaway delivering the goods as the two Macaws.  The relationship between Blu and his owner is pretty much the same as that seen in other movies such as Bolt, and as a story, it’s fairly predictable.  Thankfully the gag factor is more hit than miss and the increasingly entertaining situations (with a memorable carnival chase) mean it never gets tiresome, and support characters like a rapping bird voiced brilliantly by The Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.AM. and a salivating bulldog, brought more than a few giggles my way.  The Rio de Janeiro setting is also gorgeous and enhances the whole movie, meaning that all in all – this is one to see.

Verdict:  4 /5

The Social Network


Viewed – 18 February 2011  Blu-ray

I’ll admit to not being a fan of Facebook.  There, I said it.  I’ve been on the site as a member and built up a friends list, but something about the artificiality of the social experience it professes to provide feels fake and ultimately isolating.   So what excuse would I ever need to see a movie about Facebook?  I have just one:  David Fincher.

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Adventureland


Viewed – 27 March 2010  Blu-ray

With the advent of the Twilight saga, Kristen Stewart has quickly become a household name and one of the more interesting rising stars.  This amiable teen comedy-drama follows a college graduate (Jesse Eisenberg) who is forced to take a dead-end job at a local amusement park to pay for his University scholarship, and there he meets a bunch of likable co-workers who learn him the true meaning of life … mostly by falling for a girl, and learning some hard lessons along the way.

This charming movie is held together by some quality acting, especially from Eisenberg and Kristen Stewart as the troubled girl whose life is more complicated that Eisenberg first realises.  Ryan Reynolds is on hand as a cool maintenance engineer come rock musician who gets all the ladies attentions, and along with some comic turns from various other characters – this is very entertaining.  I had trouble deciding whether this was trying to be a full on comedy or a meaningful drama, and the movie as a whole sat uneasily between the two, and how things unfold isn’t particularly fresh or original, but the performances alone keep this from turning predictable.  It dabbles in some mature themes as far as sex & relationships go, and it’s put together very realistically, capped off with an excellent 80’s soundtrack. 

A worthy evenings viewing by anyones standards.

Verdict:  4 /5

Zombieland


Viewed – 25 March 2010  Blu-ray

I like zombie movies.  This long running genre of horror never seems to lose its appeal for some reason, and every few years or so goes through a reinvention, be it another George A Romero comeback or an inventive Brit comedy like Shaun Of The Dead … something about these marauding flesh eaters seems infinitely watchable.  So here we have another entry in the cannon, this time with more of a comedy flavour as a group of miss matched characters are flung together in the midst of the zombie apocalypse, and at first they seem more interested in getting on each others nerves than worrying about their own survival, and it’s this banter and squabbling that brings the movie to life.

The cast although small are brilliantly picked, with current nerdy actor for higher Jesse Eisenberg (step aside Michael Cera) narrating proceedings effectively, quickly teaming up with gung-ho Texan tough guy Woody Harrelson (who admittedly gets all the best lines, but hey, it’s Woody – and he’s naturally brilliant) – and then we have the two female siblings; the gorgeously foxy Emma Stone (basically living Lindsey Lohan’s career for her) and plucky 12 year old Abigail Breslin.  Together they make for a very watchable and above all else likable bunch of anti-heroes, who take on the zombie horde with hilarious results.  With a razor-sharp script with some very quotable dialogue (see if you can guess all the movie references), a memorable cameo from Bill Murray as himself, and some quality zombie slaying action, this is every bit the Saturday night pop corn crowd pleaser it was designed to be, and ok it’s a touch low-budget, which restricts the zombie kills really delivering … but none of that matters when the movie is so much fun!

Verdict:  4 /5