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'Now You See Me' offers passable magic

6/4/2013

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

"Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

Eleanor Roosevelt.

It is easy, at least in my mind, to apply the above quote to film. Great movies convey ideas, average movies show events and weak movies try and fail to be about people. I use that comparison to illustrate a gripe I have with the state of cinema and its particularly egregious representation in "Now You See Me."

More and more films recently have been trying to replace cerebral concepts with over-exaggerated plot twists. I'm not opposed to plot twists on principle, but they should be an uncommon treat such as caviar not a staple such as fish sticks. "Now You See Me" is a particularly bad offender in this arena. The big twist seemed forced and, in my opinion, detracted from the story. Not every question needs an answer, and leaving an audience with a conundrum to ponder is often more elegant than leaving them with a cookie-cutter twist.

Non-linear plot devices aside, "Now You See Me" sports a talented cast and a few interesting concepts. One character in particular is fun to watch; unfortunately, the intriguing parts of the character are chucked out the window when the movie makes a hard right.

The magic in the film occasionally works well and occasionally doesn't work at all. I will admit there were a few tricks, especially the first in the film, that truly amazed me. On the other hand, some tricks were exclusively special effects set pieces with no basis in reality -- so much so it jarred me out of the world.

Even though "Now You See Me" commits a few cardinal sins, it's not beyond saving.

4 out of 6 stars

James Gerstner works at the Fort Hays State University Foundation and is the founder and editor of Six Horizons Media at sixhorizons.com.

Contact James at james@sixhorizons.com, @sixhorizons on Twitter, Facebook.com/sixhorizons.

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