August 27, 2014

Movie Review: Now You See Me

Now You See Me makes for the perfect flick to kick off the 2013 summer movie season. The movie takes the classic heist/caper storyline and combines it with the thrill of an eye-defying magic show. We get to watch attractive movie stars "stick it to the man"-the man being banks, insurance, and other corporate entities, plus people who don't believe in magic.

What makes Now You See Me work is that you will stay involved and entertained by the many twists and turns ahead. If you've seen the trailer, you know that the magicians are going to rob a bank and the police are going to be befuddled by their schemes. What the trailer doesn't show you is that while watching this movie, you will continually question the motivations of each character and question what you are seeing. Some of the things you will guess, but the film makes good use of one of the magician's trick of misdirection to keep you looking at only part of the picture. Only at the end do we see the reveal, and we're glad.

Movie Review: After Earth by M. Night Shyamalan

If you've seen any of M. Night Shyamalan's previous films, you know he likes to take the mundane and turn it into the epic and mythological. His films are about seemingly average, ordinary people who end up discovering they can do extraordinary things. When put into critical situations, they discover their faults become assets. In Unbreakable a man who works as a security guard discovers he is actually a superhero. In Signs, we find out a boy's asthma saves his life because it protects his lungs from breathing in toxic air. In Lady in the Water, an apartment complex maintenance man and the washouts that live there all realize they are part of a great story, where each of them has a role to play. And this trend continues in After Earth, starring Will and Jaden Smith, where we learn fear is just a story we tell ourselves.

After Earth is a science fiction movie, but like most good science fiction, it uses its alternate world to teach us something about our current world. Kitai (Jaden Smith) is a cadet in training, but it's hard for him to live under the shadow of his father, who is the hero of his people, General Cypher Raige (Will Smith). General Raige was the first person to discover "ghosting"--appearing invisible to the ursa, who find and track humans by the scent of their fear. By mastering his fear, he was able to hide from the ursa and conquer his enemy. It's not important really to understand what ursa are and or why they are a problem. We know they are the enemy to this people.