Tag Archive: isla fisher


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

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Seventeen years ago Baz Luhrmann achieved major success with his updated version of Romeo + Juliet, a film in which he combined the old language of Shakespeare with a modern setting. The film was also responsible for thrusting a young Leonardo DiCaprio into the limelight. Now, in 2013, Luhrmann and DiCaprio reunite for a new take on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic American novel, The Great Gatsby, once more combining Fitzgerald’s classic literature with current hip-hop music by the likes of Jay-Z and Beyonce.

While Gatsby (DiCaprio) himself remains an unknown presence throughout the first act of the film it is down to Tobey Maguire, as Nick Carraway, to draw the audience into the story and hook their attention. Nick is introduced at the beginning of the film but at the end of his story; he is depressed alcoholic staying in a sanitarium to rid himself of his alcohol addiction and recounting the tale of one man who changed his life, Jay Gatsby.

After a slow start, primarily used to introduce the main characters of the story, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) and his wife Daisy (Carey Mulligan), who also happens to be Nick’s cousin. Once the introductions are over, however, Luhrmann takes his audience on a rip riding roller coaster full of sex and alcohol. Everything in the first act is pumped up to the max and overstated in a way that only Lurhmann could get away with. The parties are on a huge landscape, such large sets crowded with the entire population of New York City. Hearing all of the party goers talk about the mystery surrounding Gatsby just makes the character more compelling, a wonderful thing for a character not yet seen on screen.

The stories of being a German prince and mercenary are quickly put to rest when Gatsby is finally revealed. And DiCaprio keeps draws you in, forcing you to feel interested and even sympathetic at times for a man you know nothing about. His interest and sudden friendship with Nick Carraway stinks of suspicion and all of his private phone calls provoke you to ask more and more questions. Soon enough, Gatsby’s ulterior motive is revealed and the movie begins to take more twists and turns that an Argentine Tango.

Layers and layers are ripped away from Gatsby’s tragic character, wonderfully portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in a role that has to be seen. He begins at the level of very good and only continues to rise; the third act is a stand out piece of acting alone.

It may seem strange to lace a film set in the 1920s with modern hip-hop from some of music’s biggest stars but the contrast does not distract from the viewing experience at all. Lurhmann does not set out to accurately present a vision of the 1920s, this is a story for all time. A huge theme of The Great Gatsby is the idea of the boom that comes before a fall and in times of such austerity with the global financial crisis it seems the lesson is just as important now as it was back then.

This isn’t a Leonardo DiCaprio film nor is it a Tobey Maguire film, despite this being the best performance I have ever seen him put in. Gatsby, at it’s very core, is all about Baz Lurhmann, the technicalities of his directorship, the grand set designs, the striking colour pallet, everything screams Lurhmann. He brings Jay Gatsby to life in a way that only he could and he doesn’t disappoint.

My Rating: 8/10.

As soon as I saw the first trailer for Rise of the Guardians I instantly fell in love with it. Just from the trailer you could tell it was going to be something special; the characters, the colour scheme, the animation. It soon became one of my most anticipated films of the year… so how would it stand up to my very very high expectations?

DreamWorks’ latest feature film sees the immortal guardians: North – Santa Claus (Alec Baldwin), Bunnymund – Easter Bunny (Hugh Jackman), Tooth – the Tooth Fairy (Isla Fisher) and the mute Sandy – Sandman team up to stop the evil Boogeyman Pitch (Jude Law) from covering the world in fear and taking away all the innocence of the children. To do so a new recruit must heed the Guardians’ call: Jack Frost (Chris Pine).

The story is pretty simple, it in no way tries to over complicate things but that doesn’t take anything away from the way in which the story are told. Right from the off we are presented with this sort of outcast character of Jack Frost and we are quickly brought in to his story, feeling his sense of longing and wishing to know where he came from, wanting to be believed in by the children of Earth. And right from here you are wrapped up in the story. You’re rooting for him right from the word go and the introduction to this magical world is all you need to quickly become engrossed and want to see more. I found myself amazed at how emotionally attached I grew to Jack Frost as the film went on, there was a distinct sense of humanity in his character.

Of course, some of this humanity is installed by the wonderful Chris Pine’s voice acting and the whole cast did a terrific job in voicing their characters. I can honestly say that this is definitely one of Hugh Jackman’s best performances in my opinion, or at least one of my favourite roles I have seen him in. I almost forgot it was even Alec Baldwin voicing North as well, this sort of Russian/Eastern European accent and demeanor he seemed to have really made his character stand out and it was terrific work from Baldwin in doing this. And although Sandy doesn’t say a word (he communicates through sand drawings above his head) he quickly transforms into this lovable little guy and no doubt one of the most popular characters in Rise of the Guardians! As for Pitch, I think he may just be one of the greatest ever villains in a children’s film.

The animation is second to none. We’re talking perfection here in terms of animation. There are some wonderful sets created; Santa’s workshop, Bunnymund’s Easter retreat, Tooth’s palace and Pitch’s headquarters. There is so much attention to detail, everything is so bold and bright and it all feels so real, like your looking at something of immeasurable beauty. And there are some great action sequences to go with the wonderful aesthetics of the film. Right from the beginning where we first meet Jack Frost and he messes about on the iced over pond to the sled ride he takes Jamie (the last believer in the Guardians) on, from the scene in which the Guardians help restore belief in Tooth, right up to the final climax and fight with Pitch.

Everything is done so well. Scenes you thought were pointless when they first appear later show their importance in the film and it has a sort of poetic feel to it. DreamWorks is really showing here, as people are starting to doubt Pixar for the first time, that they can make top quality films as well as anybody else.

Director Peter Ramsay, producer Christina Steinberg, executive producer Guillermo del Toro and Jack Frost himself Chris Pine have all expressed an interest in making a sequel. Usually I do like to see films just stand alone, it makes a nice change these days, but I have to confess I would welcome a Rise of the Guardians sequel with open arms!

My Rating: 9/10.

‘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!

Rise of the Guardians is the latest animated offering from DreamWorks Animation that will be released later on this year and is already the subject of much hype. I think that this film will be a huge success and, take away The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises, this is probably the film that I have been most looking forward to this year. But why?

The Avengers smashed records left, right and centre upon its release earlier this year and brought together characters like Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and Hulk to the big screen to all work together. Well, Rise of the Guardians is The Avengers of childhood; everyone has different lives obviously but there are some things that are the same in everyone’s childhood as they grow up and this is their belief in Santa Claus, Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, the Sandman and Jack Frost. Rise of the Guardians brings together these heroes of childhood in the same way that The Avengers were brought together, and who is the Loki to Rise of the Guardians team? Someone that every child has nightmares about; the Boogeyman. It’s a brilliant concept for a film to have these famous characters working together and being aware of each and every one of their existences.

Rise of the Guardians is based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood book series and the books, whilst only released last year were instant hits and are surely going to become classic stories that children will be reading for years. Joyce is also already a big name in the world of animated films; he worked on the art design for Pixar’s Toy Story and A Bug’s Life, produced Robots and wrote Meet the Robinsons. Joyce, as well as writing Rise of the Guardians, is producing and co-directing. The fact that he is writing and co-directing the film is great news because it will mean that he will be able to tell the story exactly as he wants meaning the audience will see the film how it is meant to be seen which always makes a film better!

DreamWorks Animation obviously is in a very difficult position because it has to play second place in the animation world to Pixar, although this is nothing to be ashamed of. I think DreamWorks are pretty up and down: the Shrek series was pretty inconsistent despite a great start, I’m not too keen on the Madagascar series and Shark Tale was worse than average. But when DreamWorks get it right they really do get it right! Flushed Away is brilliant, Kung Fu Panda is great and How to Train Your Dragon is up there with anything Pixar have ever done and even better than some of their films. Rise of the Guardians does look as though it will be one of DreamWorks’ best films to date and that means it will be fantastic! The animation from the trailer itself looks amazing and it will be a treat for all the senses.

Who could have ever imagined that Hugh Jackman, the man who plays the berserker rage suffering Wolverine, would play the Easter Bunny, or Bunnymund as he will be called in Rise of the Guardians. It seems strange casting but just from the trailer it looks spot on! Plus, any film that has Hugh Jackman saying the line “I’m a bunny” just has to be good! Rise of the Guardians’ cast also boasts Chris Pine as Jack Frost, Isla Fisher as Tooth (the Tooth Fairy), Alec Baldwin as North/Santa Claus (brilliant casting!) and Jude Law as Pitch, the Boogeyman. It’s a cast of big names and great voices which will no doubt add to the enjoyment of the film.

When I first saw the trailer I said that it was the best trailer I had seen for a very long time and I still stand by that statement; it tells the story, introduces the characters and packs in lots of laughs in a short space of time. Every little bit of advertising I see for Rise of the Guardians just makes me want to see it even more and the release date cannot come quick enough!

30th November 2012… Legends Unite.