Plot: What’s it about?
I’ve always been somewhat taken by magic. I’m logical enough to know that it’s not really real, but I have to admit that some of the performers out there do make me second guess that belief. I’ve also enjoyed entertainers like Penn and Teller who can do some amazing things, but then tell you how they do it. And, as expected, it totally ruins that sort of trick from that point forward. The thing is, there’s really no such thing as magic. It’s all sleight of hand, misdirection and drawing your focus elsewhere. Yes, while you’re watching the ball, the performer’s other hand is doing all the work. Now don’t knock it. I am entertained by this “dark art” and there are several out there that have made a very good living at this. This is the central theme of Now You See Me when four various performers are brought together for a show and who may or may not have robbed a bank. And let’s face it, if you could do some of the things that these folks could do – wouldn’t you use your powers for personal gain instead of hustling for pocket chance on the street? Me too.
We’re quickly introduced to the four main players in the movie: Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), a “David Blaine” type of street performer, Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) is a hypnotist (or mentalist as he’s referred to) who had now degraded to hustling cheating husbands and wives. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher), Daniel’s former assistant is now an escape artist of sorts and finally there’s Jack Wilder (Dave Franco), probably the person with the least “performance ability” but is better at being a pickpocket. This quartet is recruited by Vegas billionaire Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine) and the subject of their show is that they’ll rob a bank in real-time based on someone they pick from the audience. Uh huh. Sooner or later the FBI becomes involved led by Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) and then we meet the mysterious Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) who makes his living debunking how performers do these tricks. This, of course, begs the question – will they get away with it?
Now You See Me is just a fun movie to watch, namely due to the performances of Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson (both also starred in Zombieland a few years back, well worth a look itself). Eisenberg’s rapid fire dialogue is perfect for his role here as it was in The Social Network and Harrelson is just flat out entertaining in pretty much everything he’s in. The ensemble cast is mostly well-seasoned with Isla Fisher playing the role of the vixen and throw in Morgan Freeman because, well, I think it’s in his contract that he has to be in 28 movies a year. I’m a big fan of heist movies and I was reminded of the Ocean’s Eleven films while watching this. Granted I got a bit more pleasure out of those, but this isn’t far behind. It’s just a good time, it’s nice to sit back and relax and just be entertained. What a concept!
Video: How’s it look?
Though the movie is a few years old I still consider it a “new” movie, per se. Having reviewed the Blu-ray a few years back, I remember being impressed and this 4K version looks a tad bit better. As I’m finding out with these Ultra HD titles, the difference isn’t night and say, rather just little subtle nuances that make me take notice. The thing is, this is really only visible if you compare the two side by side. Watching one independent of the other really won’t make much of a difference (at least to me). Of note, the 4K version does not include the extended cut of the film as found on the Blu-ray. I have to imagine that it was simply easier and more cost effective to do this for the 4K release as opposed to take the missing 8 minutes out and add it back in. That said, you do get the extended cut on the Blu-ray, but if you’re buying it for that then just buy the Blu-ray since you could probably find it for about $5 now. Putting that aside, the picture Simply put, the picture is near flawless and I’m hoping I see a Blu-ray that doesn’t look so good because it seems that everything looks amazing. I guess that’s a double edged sword. Summit Entertaiment presents Now You See Me in a near perfect 2.40:1 AVC HD image. Detail is superb, contrast and black levels are spot on with no sign of compression artifacts or the like. Colors sizzle with bold and bright scenes that make you feel like you’re in the audience at a Vegas show. Simply put, aside from a few minor blips in a couple of scenes – this is what we’ve come to expect. Viewers will not be disappointed.
Audio: How’s it sound?
As is the case (so far) with Ultra HD/4K titles, the sound mix has been given a Dolby Atmos mix for the 4K version. I didn’t notice too much of a difference between this and the Blu-ray (which has the DTS HD Master Audio track). Now, admittedly, I wasn’t expecting such a robust mix out of this film, but the soundtrack does have a few moments that really made me take notice. Vocals and dialogue are all top notch, there’s not the slightest bit of distortion to be heard. What really made my head turn were the use of the surrounds. The show in Vegas has a swirling 360 degree effect to it that’s nearly dizzying. There’s actually a pretty decent car chase scene thrown in for good measure and though the LFE weren’t too involved, I found a few scenes where I felt a bit of bass. A top notch effort here, for sure.
Supplements: What are the extras?
The supplements are the same as the Blu-ray from a few years ago. Nothing new has been added.
- Audio Commentary – Available on the theatrical cut only (it took me a few minutes to figure that out), Producer Bobby Cohen and director Louis Lettelier sit back and give us a pretty satisfying track. We get information the shoot, a lot of technical aspects of the film and in general a very fast-moving track that’s full of tidbits.
- Now You See Me Revealed – Your standard EPK with some interviews with the cast and crew as they tell how much fun it was to work on the film. There wasn’t anything too ‘revealing’ about this.
- A Brief History of Magic – Hosted by the technical advisor on the film David Kwong, he gives us a, as the title suggests, brief history of the dark arts and how some of those stories found their way into the film.
- Deleted Scenes – A rather robust selection of a dozen or so deleted scenes are included that run over 30 minutes. A few of these were in the extended cut of the film.
- Teaser/Theatrical Trailer – The original teaser and theatrical trailer are included.
The Bottom Line
No doubt this title has been released in 4K due to the impending sequel, but that’s ok. Though obvious plot holes ensue, it’s a fun ride and the movie both looks and sounds amazing. Now about the 4K, well…it’s up to you. The extended cut is missing from the 4K version, but if you don’t own the Blu-ray already, this is probably a good place to start and you therefore “future” proof your collection.