I’ve got way too much free time this term. My academic week consists of a three hour seminar on Gothic cinema on a Monday morning, an hour break, then a two hour seminar on Screen Writing, followed by the occasional two hour film show to further our understanding of screenplays.
And that’s it. I’m done for the week.
So I figured, beyond not getting awful grades, there would be two things I would do with my six day weekend. Namely read more and watch all the movies I’ve meant to but never got round to. Some have described me as a film buff or lover, but to be honest, there are tons of big films I’ve never seen. And for a supposed ‘film buff’, that’s kind of shocking. An example: I’ve never seen E.T.
But anyway, rather than starting with E.T., I thought I’d instead focus on the twenty films in my collection that I have yet to watch, starting with Now You See Me.
For those of you who don’t know, Now You See Me is a magic-thriller-heist-revenge-romance-drama. I think. There’s a lot going on.
[Spoilers to follow]
A Lionsgate Film, Directed by Louis Leterrier
Released: 31st May 2013
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mélanie Laurent, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Cain and Morgan Freeman
Review: Now You See Me features four street magicians who band together after receiving a mysterious summons to become a close-knit team of Robin Hood-like criminals. For the majority of the film, neither they nor the audience knows their true purpose, as they supposedly seek to join an age-old society of magicians, whilst seemingly avenging the death of an unseen magician who died some years before.
The film features an impressive cast who all deliver great performances; not the best of their careers, but still thoroughly entertaining and enjoyable. Their chemistry is impressive, and along with the story, keep you guessing as to what the true nature of the story is.
The film offers an impressive visual spectacle to boot. A particular highlight is the fight scene between Dave Franco and Mark Ruffalo, which features Franco’s character hurling several magic tricks into his choreography, to dazzle both Ruffalo and the audience, as this sequence sidelines into an exhilarating car chase.
Unfortunately, after all of this, the film seems to fall flat, as in what seems like an unnecessary twist, Mark Ruffalo is revealed to be the son of the aforementioned magician, whom the main characters are in the process of avenging. As such, it is he who has been instructing the ‘Four Horsemen’ from behind the scenes, having spent years undercover in the FBI as a means to allowing his associates to remain one step ahead of their adversaries.
The twist seems rather empty, by the time you reach the conclusion of the film. The plot seems to be leading towards Ruffalo failing to capture the Four Horsemen, but being fine with his failure, having come to appreciate the beauty of magic and having found love in his Interpol partner. Rather than following through, and perhaps revealing the deceased magician to be alive as has been hinted at throughout the film, the story hurls in a twist that seems to be there just to throw the audience off.
However, as the film continually states, “The closer you think you are, the less you will actually see”, and so I feel I will have to watch the film again to see if the Ruffalo twist is cleverly threaded throughout the story, or whether it is all just a pointless illusion.
However, not wanting to end there (my one hour in university today made 2 o’clock seem like it should have been much later on), I decided to follow through with Edge of Tomorrow.
A Warner Bros. Film, Directed by Doug Liman
Released: 6th June 2014
Starring: Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson
Review: I had originally doubted the quality of Edge of Tomorrow. Despite being a big Cruise fan, and a lover of Science Fiction, I was worried that the film, like Oblivion (which I did enjoy, but realize wasn’t the best film), would not make true on its promise to dazzle (the magic lingo from Now You See Me has started to infect my brain).
And, straight off the bat of a film that I really did enjoy up until the end, I was worried that Edge of Tomorrow, despite receiving rave reviews, would seem a little flat straight after such a visually appealing flick.
How wrong I was.
Edge of Tomorrow features Cruise as a media officer for the United States army, who is involuntarily drafted into service under command of the British forces. Thrown into combat, Cruise is quickly killed when facing off against an alien invader, whose blood imbues in him the power to ‘reset’ the day after his death. Meeting with Emily Blunt, another soldier who has previously undergone the same process before losing her power, Cruise must find a way to navigate the battle and defeat the alien hordes that have consumed most of Europe.
Although it is a little difficult to believe Cruise as an un-heroic coward at the start of the film, his eventual evolution into a battle-hardened warrior is a fun one to watch. And the no-nonsense Emily Blunt allows us some suspension of disbelief about Cruise’s early portrayal.
The movie is highly entertaining, and watching Cruise try and try again to survive the invasion of France doesn’t get old as one might imagine. Similarly, the aliens are also a delight to behold, staying away from standard alien convention, and adapting the shape-shifter archetype in a fresh new way.
And, unlike Now You See Me, Edge of Tomorrow does have a somewhat satisfying conclusion. I was initially ready to applaud the film for killing off all the main characters as they succeeded in vanquishing the enemy, only to find that Cruise is once more thrown back in time, his victory in tact. It was slightly obvious that something of the sort would happen, and for a moment, it did make my faith in the film waiver. But the final interaction between Cruise, who remembers all the events of ‘tomorrow’, and Blunt who remembers nothing, reaffirmed my belief that Edge of Tomorrow is a great piece of Science Fiction.
Definitely glad I bought this on my birthday.
Now, what to watch next…