Get ready: Oldboy (2013)

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Back in January, I expressed my utter disappointment that Hollywood was remaking the South Korean Classic, Oldboy.  There is no way Hollywood could do justice to this art- house oeuvre…unless they found an incredible director…one who might be a little heavy handed with his politics but still creates imaginative films that sit on the periphery of Hollywood mainstream…someone who is internationally well-liked so as not to offend any Oldboy purists…someone like Spike Lee?  That’s right.  Spike Lee directs this horrific tale about a man desperate to understand why he was inexplicably imprisoned for 15 years.  The cast is pretty decent and the trailer is enough to make us understand that it’s different but the same.

Directed by: Spike Lee
Adapted by: Mark Protosevich whose credits at least include The Cell.
Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Olsen, Samuel L. Jackson, Hannah Simone, James Ransone and Sharlto Copley.

Release date: November 27th, 2013 (USA)

The trailer is barely watchable.  First time I’ve ever seen the red screen.

It’s going on my watchlist.

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Now You See Me (2013)

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Directed by: Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans, Transporter 2, The Incredible Hulk)
Written by: Ed Solomon (screenplay), Boaz Yakin & Edward Ricourt (screenplay and story)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Mark Ruffalo, Mélanie Laurent, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

I’ve learned to distrust trailers, as much as I enjoy them.  More times than not, a movie doesn’t live up to the hype presented in a 2min clip (Warm Bodies being the current exception).  In this case, the how’d-they-do-that thriller had me from the trailer and I rushed out to see it.  The movie, about four magicians who conduct a series of heists and the cop who is trying to capture them, has a great premise but it flounders as it tries to focus too much on a story that isn’t deftly constructed.

What I liked:  The movie is, quite simply, entertaining – if you ignore the holes.  It moves forward fluidly with a chuckle here and there and the characters are engaging if underdeveloped, to the movie’s great misfortune.  The Four Horsemen: Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco have characters that suit their strengths as actors, which would be great fun if they were ever onscreen as more than a plot point.  Their grand spectacles are funny and baffling but fail to generate any tension.  Mark Ruffalo carries the film as the frustrated cop trying to catch up to their trail of larceny.  Riding his wave of frustration is the best part of the movie.

What I didn’t like:  Again, the premise is what engages but the follow-through is lacking.  For a movie that claims it is smarter than we are, I was overtly aware that it wasn’t, on most counts. That said, I did enjoy the trick reveals and the magicians’ great spectacles.  However, the movie never delves any deeper than the heist itself.  As David Denby noted in his New Yorker review, “It seems that the director, who also made “The Incredible Hulk” and “Clash of the Titans,” will do anything to distract us from the emptiness to which he has devoted himself.’  That said, we don’t all need depth to be entertained and I would recommend the movie as a fun summer flick.

My rating: Enjoy it for what it is, not for what it isn’t.

IMDb 7.5     rotten 47%