Tag Archive: dave franco

Now You See Me Review

A star studded cast embark on a game of cat and mouse as the FBI and Interpol attempt to catch four magicians who use the disguise of their magic show to conduct bank heists and give the stolen money to their audiences. This band of magicians are known as The Four Horsemen and are each solo artists brought together by a mysterious hooded figure and a series of tarot cards. When together the group pull off these bank heists as a way of being allowed entry to an exclusive group of magicians known as ‘The Eye’.

“The closer you think you are, the less you’ll actually see”

The film opens every bit as you might expect: introducing the four characters separately, allowing for the audience to quickly get to know them and acknowledge their traits before they are put into the group dynamic. Up first is street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) whose opening trick is cleverly conducted to work on the audience as well; then comes Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), a mentalist who uses his ‘gift’ to find out dirty secrets about people and extort them of their money. The only female member of the group is Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), an escapologist and former assistant to J. Daniel Atlas. These three are joined by the only one of the magicians whose actual tarot card links to the Four Horsemen of mythology: Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) who seems to be more like a con artist than magician. These opening scenes are every bit as exciting as you would hope and introduce our heroes as being likeable characters, so much so that it has you gripped form the very beginning.

Jump one year later. Now we’re in Las Vegas watching the Four Horsemen put on a show under the watchful eye of benefactor Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and magician defrauder Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman). Here it is that the magicians pull off the bank heist that gets them noticed by the FBI. However, what the audience will notice is just how long this scene drags out and unfortunately it isn’t the only one. As with the case with real life magic shows, the magicians tend to lengthen things out, giving long speeches and explaining what they’re going to do before they do something completely different. While this may be all fine and well at real magic shows, when you have less than two hours on a cinema screen some of the waffle has to be cut down.

“These guys, they’re tricky”

But then that’s why Jesse Eisenberg impresses the most. If it wasn’t for Eisenberg’s charisma then perhaps Now You See Me would run the risk of being slightly dull, but every time Eisenberg appears on screen he hastens up the pace (if not only for his fast talking) but he inhabits the character; it feels like Eisenberg is the only one who has done his research and knows about magicians… which isn’t really surprising considering he was the first name attached to the project.

The other horsemen each have their own moments of glory (although arguably Isla Fisher’s comes at the beginning and never really rears it’s head again) with Harrelson providing a few sporadic laughs throughout, while Dave Franco provides one of the most exciting sequences of the piece in a fight scene with FBI agent Mark Ruffalo where trick mirrors, slight of hand and playing cards all come into use. It really stands out as one of the best action scenes of the summer which is remarkable considering the strength and special effects of the other blockbusters such as Iron Man 3 or Star Trek Into Darkness.

“Want to know how they did it? Just say the magic word”

While each individual actor gets their moment in the limelight at one point or another, it is a slight downfall that the four central characters seem to have very little chemistry with one another. The conversations at times seem jarred and the jokes not as free flowing as you would expect. Perhaps the worst part of the film is the completely unbelievable relationship between Mark Ruffalo’s character and the Interpol agent played by Melanie Laurent. Even the two actors don’t seem invested in that storyline.

Throughout the film there are (almost too many) hints towards the fact that there is going to be a twist so part of the fun comes from guessing what that twist is going to be. There is a little foreshadowing throughout but the reveal should still come as a surprise. It’s a great idea, but arguably poorly executed which is where it is going to be let down. However, this is just a small problem compared to the plot holes scattered throughout the plot and the pointlessness of Michael Caine’s character.

“First rule of magic: always be the smartest guy in the room”

Had it been released at any other time of the year Now You See Me could have very easily run the risk of bombing in the box office. But this is summer and people expect certain things from a summer blockbuster: they want to laugh, be entertained, see great action sequences, wonderful set pieces and big budget effects. And that’s what Now You See Me can deliver. It has it’s flaws but all in all is a thoroughly enjoyable film that can be filed under ‘hit’ for director Louis Leterrier.

My Rating: 6/10


Earlier in the week I wrote articles about my fantasy casting choices for the likes of Jaina Solo and Jacen Solo in the new Star Wars trilogy if they are to feature. Of course, the Star Wars saga is primarily about the Skywalker family and this new trilogy, if based on the children of our original heroes, will not be without a Skywalker. This is the turn of Ben.

To anybody with just a passing interest in the Star Wars films it will be pretty obvious who his father is and who he is named after but I am going to tell you anyway: Ben Kenobi and Luke Skywalker. Ben’s mother is another Jedi master named Mara Jade and most of his pivotal moments in the expanded universe come before his sixteenth birthday. This will most likely be changed for the new trilogy however, because, after the catastrophe of the prequel trilogy, they’re not going to want to hedge their bets on a young teenager, surely? But I could be wrong. Anyway, who could play Ben Skywalker?


Dave Franco

This would be a bit of a strange choice as he is making a name for himself in Hollywood now as more of a comedic type actor. However, complete with trademark Franco smile, I think Dave Franco could fit into the Star Wars universe pretty well. I think they will be opting for an up and coming actor rather than one who has already made his name for the role of Ben Skywalker and Dave Franco could be a good fit.


Garrett Hedlund

I have seen Hedlund mentioned by quite a few fans as a possibly Ben Skywalker. He seems to have a name that you would be likely to remember and has appeared in some big (if a little disappointing) films: Troy, Eragon, TRON: Legacy. With the latter looking as though it could be turning into a quite profitable franchie then it is possible Hedlund will be staying on to lead TRON in the future years so he seems unlikely.


Liam Hemsworth

If it was down to me Liam Hemsworth would be my pick. He is appearing in The Hunger Games trilogy at the minute but by the time Star Wars Episode VII begins to get made the second film will be done with and he doesn’t exactly have the biggest part in the world so he may consider turning his back on the role to lead Star Wars into a new era. Ben Skywalker seems a pretty difficult role to cast at the minute and if Abrams decides against casting an unknown actor (as George Lucas did with the original Skywalker) then Hemsworth could well be in with a shout.

‘Now You See Me’ Trailer

UK Release Date: 21st June 2013

Stars: Louis Leterrier (director), Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Isla Fisher

Plot: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.

It’s a heist movie where the bank robbers are magicians and the detective is played by the Hulk, what more could you want? Now You See Me is obviously going to be compared to The Prestige upon its release and already is being compared on the internet which makes sense, The Prestige was also about magicians and is easily one of my favourite films of all time.

You can’t deny that Now You See Me has a very ‘prestigy’ feel to it; what with the teleporting device, the magicians, the woman trapped in a tank of water and the appearance of Michael Caine but there is enough here to justify that it is a very different type of film. It looks, to me, that Now You See Me is a lot lighter than The Prestige, as it would have to be to gain the box office it must be expecting with a summer release date and a cast full of stars.

I’m already looking forward to it. I enjoyed the trailer very much and Now You See Me looks like a fun film, that fun best summed up by Dave Franco’s half a second of trailer time in which he manages to fit in the trademark Franco smile. Eisenberg’s scene in which he escapes the handcuffs and gets them on to Ruffalo’s character is quick but incredible and it’s good to see they made the EVER so sensible choice of having Morgan Freeman do the voice over for the trailer. Bring on summer 2013!

The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud was a best selling novel when it was released back in 2004 and as is the trend these days it was soon made into a film. Charlie St. Cloud tells the story of the title character trying to come to terms with the death of his younger brother until he ultimately must make the choice between keeping a promise to his dead brother or saving the life of a girl that he feels very strongly for. The official synopsis calls it a gift that Charlie can see his deceased brother in the forest but I’m not sure that’s what I would call it, it seems more like a curse not being able to get over the grief or the guilt of such a tragic event happening.

Zac Efron takes the main role as the pretty much perfect guy: he loves and really cares for his mum, he has a very strong bond and friendship with his little brother, he’s one of the best young sailors in the country and has a scholarship to university, he’s got good friends and pretty much his pick of the girls. It’s easy to cast a pretty boy in this type of role but the storyline requires some acting talent too and Efron may have his doubters but I think that he is actually a pretty good actor (he just gets tarnished as rubbish by people who don’t like High School Musical without basing their opinions on anything else). His performance here is pretty good and he gives you a real sense of conflict inside his mind. Charlie Tahan is acting way beyond his maturity in the role of Charlie’s dead little brother Sammy. This duo is supported by Tess Carroll and the surprisingly funny Augustus Prew: there are small appearances from Kim Basinger, Ray Liotta and Dave Franco (complete with the unmistakeable Franco smile).

The opening scene shows Charlie and his brother winning a sailing competition and while it does little to get the adrenaline pumping it sets up the story nicely and the next twenty minutes or so help to build up the sense of brotherhood, friendship and respect that the two brothers share. The death of Sammy wasn’t actually the most emotional part of the film. I felt that Charlie’s trips to see his brother in the forest were very touching and really nicely dealt with and really showed the conflict and guilt that Charlie was suffering from inside his head while he wouldn’t let anybody else know about it. His relationship with Tess seems to move pretty quickly which is understandable once you have seen the film all the way through.

The big twist comes about two thirds of the way through and while it isn’t quite as big as The Sixth Sense, which is obviously had some effect on making this film, it is still a good and pretty powerful one I thought. However, I don’t think the film dealt with the twist as well as it could have done and the third act unfortunately lets the film down after a very promising first two acts. The ending is pretty corny as you would expect from a romance film aimed at teenage girls because corny and cheesy sells so well that studios don’t feel the need to do anything else any more.

Saying that though, I really enjoyed Charlie St. Cloud and would certainly watch it again.

My Rating: 6/10.

21 Jump Street Review


Based on the television series from the eighties that made a teen idol out of Johnny Depp, 21 Jump Street is a loose sequel made for the big screen. We follow Morton Schmidt and Greg Jenko, two new and hopeless police officers who end up getting sent to become part of an undercover operation. This operation includes the two officers going undercover in high school in order to find out who has been supplying a number of drugs to the students.

21 Jump Street is written by Michael Bacall, who also wrote critical success Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, and Oscar nominee Jonah Hill who also portrays Schmidt. Hill’s co-star is Channing Tatum and the two are supported by Ice Cube, Dave Franco and Jake Johnson among others who all make this film what it is: a brilliant piece of comedy entertainment.

The film has, what seems to be, the quickest montage series in film as it takes place just five minutes into the story, if that! Opening with a flashback gives the audience a quick and easy indication as to what the two protagonists were like in high school and their relationship there. The story moves at a pretty fast pace to get to the beef of the story, the actual undercover work. This works well as it allows for comedy moments, not focussing on too much of the drama and getting the audience right into the action.

The comedy is fantastic. Some of the jokes are immature, some of the jokes are clever and the combination of the two works perfectly. There is physical comedy and verbal comedy which make for some real laugh out loud moments. Channing Tatum, although he has his critics, is hilarious in this film and Jonah Hill is also very funny. The two have a great chemistry on screen, stemmed from their off screen friendship, and gives a real belief to their friendship.

21 Jump Street is not a film that takes itself too seriously. And in doing so allows for some fantastic moments and in jokes which refer to the television series. These range from the subtle hint to ‘reviving a programme from the 80s’ to the television show being shown in the background of the final action scene and what will make fans of the television show happiest is that the real star of the show, Johnny Depp, even has a cameo!

Overall, 21 Jump Street provides over an hour and a half’s worth of great entertainment. There isn’t a lot there to make you think but that’s not what it attempts to do. The objective is to make the audience laugh and it certainly succeeds. The ending very much leaves itself open for a sequel, which is already being talked about. If Hill and Tatum are back on board then it should be great. If you want to see a brilliant comedy film, then look no further than 21 Jump Street.

My Rating: 8/10