We review this week’s cinema releases, including NOW YOU SEE ME and THE INTERNSHIP
NOW YOU SEE ME (France, USA/12A/115 mins)
Directed by Louis Leterrier. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Dave Franco, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman.
THE PLOT: J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merrit McKinney (Woody Harrelson), Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are magicians operating with limited success in their chosen fields. A mysterious stranger brings them together to form The Four Horsemen; a super group of magicians and illusionists, with a mission for justice.
THE VERDICT: Now You See Me is a film that relies on the story to carry the huge and varied cast; rather like Ocean’s Eleven did. The trouble is that the script for this film is nowhere near as slick or as clever as that of Ocean’s Eleven, and the avenging angel story wears thin after a while, especially with so many questions deliberately ‘unanswered’, but easily guessed. While the visuals and some of the fight sequences are great, the film is not quite as smart as it would like to be and the twists can be seen coming a mile off. As well as this, since Now You See Me is supposed to be set in ‘our’ world, some of the magic tricks require a lot of patience from the audience in order for them to work.
Director Louis Leterrier has had a patchy career so far, but this is arguably his strongest work yet. The cast work well together, but the height that the audience is asked to suspend their disbelief at is rather too high.
In all, Now You See Me is a film that boasts an impressive cast, some clever dialogue and is rather slick and clever, although perhaps not as slick and clever as it could be. It is let down with an overly complicated but easily guessed storyline and the feeling that the elements of mystery and fun are missing from time to time.
Review by Brogen Hayes
MOVIES.IE’S ONE TO WATCH!
A FIELD IN ENGLAND (UK/TBC/90mins)
Directed by Ben Wheatley. Starring Julian Barrat, Michael Smiley, Reeece Shearsmith
THE PLOT: During the 17th century British civil war, a group of soldiers and one self-professed coward leave the battle in search of an ale house. There is no ale house, however, instead they find O’Neil (Michael Smiley), an alchemist who is intent on finding lost treasure by any means possible.
THE VERDICT: There are some films that defy explanation; the plot is simple, but the execution is not. A Field in England is one of those films. For those expecting a foul mouthed gore fest like Sightseers or a journey into the heart of darkness like in Kill List are going to be disappointed. A Field in England is a journey into the heart of weirdness, and it is hard to tell whether director Wheatley and writer Amy Jump are just being weird for the sake of it.
The dialogue for A Field in England is fantastic, as one might expect from a film created by Wheatley and Jump. All manner of life’s questions are discussed, including fear, cowardice and the nature of death. The characters get to know one another, and themselves, through their conversations and long held beliefs are called into question. Michael Smiley – yes, Tyres from Spaced – brings the intolerant evil to the piece as the alchemist, but this evil begins to seep into everyone around him, the longer they spend inn his company.
Where things get a little Space Odyssey-esque is when the men discover some psychotropic mushrooms and begin to hallucinate the experiences they have had, and will have. It seems that each audience member will take different things from this sequence, as it is one that the audience gets to layer their own thoughts an opinions on; much like 2001: A Space Odyssey. That said, it would have been easy to tell this story without throwing jarring and nauseating images at the audience, so the question is raised then, are the filmmakers being weird for the sake of being weird? Are they trying to spark conversation among the audience? If this is the case, then they have done their job well, as A Field in England is a film that needs to be discussed.
In all, A Field in England is a simple story told in a crazy way. Filmed in black and white, with gorgeous visuals and dialogue, the film is a treat for the senses, until the final act when it becomes a full onslaught to the mind. That said, there is plenty here to challenge audiences, and to enjoy, so the film is a must watch for those who expect cinema to provoke and challenge, as well as entertain.
Review by Brogen Hayes
THE BLING RING (USA, UK, France, Germany, Japan/15A/90 mins)
Directed by Sofia Coppola. Starring Emma Watson, Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Leslie Mann
THE PLOT: In 2009, a group of teenagers were arrested in LA stealing more than $3 million in clothing and jewellery from celebrities including Paris Hilton, Orlando Bloom and Lindsay Lohan. They were nicknamed The Bling Ring.
THE VERDICT: Much of the cast of The Bling Ring is made up of relative unknowns; Katie Chang, Israel Broussard, Claire Julien and Taissa Farmiga make up the gang of teens, with Emma Watson thrown in for some star power. On the whole, the performances from the cast are lacklustre; Emma Watson has been improving over the years, but her only real moment to shine is at the end of the film. The rest do what they can with the empty vessel characters they are given, but no-one does particularly well. All of the characters end up being cardboard cut out versions of reality; they are all vapid, vacuous and ultimately shallow.
The film is based on real events and a Vanity Fair article on the gang as they went to trial. While it is true that the Vanity Fair article is not incredibly long, Sofia Coppola appears to have been happy to focus on the visual, choreograph parties and leave the characters to fall by the wayside. It is only toward the end of the film, as the police catch up with the gang, that they finally show themselves as slightly more than mindless party drones. One line of dialogue to explain why these kids were breaking into celebrities houses would have sufficed for motivation, but instead the audience is left to wonder whether they were greedy, foolhardy or wanted to be like their idols.
The film does look good, however there is only so many repetitive parties, stealing and shots of kids taking ‘selfies’ that the audience can take before wondering if there is anything going on underneath the surface. The running time is a neat 90 minutes, but since it seems the film has so little to say, this stretches out to feel like a lifetime. The messy pacing certainly doesn’t help this either.
In all, The Bling Ring could have been a fascinating look at the celebrity obsessed youth culture that seems to have been cultivated recently, but instead the film is bland, vapid and ultimately, has nothing to say. Without bringing one character to the fore, the audience has no-one to root for and it is hard not to hope that these brats will be caught in the end.
Review by Brogen Hayes
THE INTERNSHIP (USA/12A/119mins)
Directed by Shawn Levy. Starring Owen Wilson, Vince Vaughn, John Goodman
THE PLOT: When the sales company they work for goes bust, Billy (Vince Vaughn) and Nick (Owen Wilson) fake college enrolment so they can take on a summer internship at Google. The trouble is that they know nothing about the digital world, and are at least 20 years older than their counterparts.
THE VERDICT: Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn play the same odd couple as they have done for many movies now, so these characters don’t feel new or in any way original. As well as this, setting these men in a world they do not understand feels like unimaginative story telling. Rose Byrne plays the love interest; an uptight Google executive who is always running to meetings and obviously needs Owen Wilson to teach her how to have fun. The interns in Nick and Billy’s group are made up of an Asian kid who wants to impress his parents (Tobit Raphael), an girl of Indian descent who thinks she’s Mindy Kaling (Jessica Szohr) and pretty much every other stereotype that you can think of.
The story is as uninspired as the character choices; the guys must bond with their team in order to do well and just when one of them thinks he is not cut out for this new digital world, a task comes along that he excels at. There is no problem with following a formula, but following a formula in a manner that is not funny and not clever is a big problem for a film starring several comedic actors that is actually meant to be funny.
The ‘jokes’ in The Internship do not land, including an extended cameo by Will Ferrell. In fact, the entire film ends up feeling a little embarrassing, boring and incredibly difficult to watch. The characters make such horrible decisions that it is hard to root for them, and they are so unfunny and such a void of entertainment that the only excitement comes from checking out Google’s headquarters. They have a slide! So cool!
The Internship is a shameful and shameless effort to cash in on so many people having to reskill due to economic troubles. The film is borerline racist, not entertaining and certainly not funny by any stretch of the imagination.
Review by Brogen Hayes