It occurs to me that I’ve been delinquent with my film reviews… so here’s a catch up.
Basic plot is four magicians stage an increasingly elaborate set of robberies whilst the FBI and Interpol look on, baffled. The one thing this movie has going for it is a fair amount of style. The magic effects are done really rather well… and, that’s pretty much it. There really isn’t much more to it than that.
There isn’t a single redeemable character in this entire movie, which makes it hard to enjoy. Jesse Eisenberg is back playing Mark Zuckerberg and Mark Ruffalo‘s character is an arsehole. Since it takes itself so seriously, it’s hard to feel sorry for Ruffalo’s inept cop, and the Horsemen are far too smug to be likable.
The action builds up in a fairly predictable manner, with the magicians (calling themselves the Four Horsemen) starting off by robbing a bank in France all the way from Las Vegas. The police follow around (Clouseau-like) trying to figure out how they did it. There’s a conspiracy-angle worked in for good measure, where it turns out that the magicians are working for a secretive order that seeks to temper the wealth of the rich and re-distribute it to the poor. The nail in its coffin comes at in final act, and it felt a bit like the writers realized they needed an ending, picked one and decided to say “f**k you, that’s why…”.
Like most magic tricks, it’s less impressive the more you look into it. It’s tries to be Oceans 11, but takes itself far too seriously to pull it off.
I did these two movies back-to-back, and on reflection that probably wasn’t the best thing to do. This one however I enjoyed significantly more than the first. The plot centers on humanity’s efforts to repel an alien invasion from another dimension (the aliens in this case being GIANT MONSTERS). In response to this alien threat, humanity decides to build GIANT ROBOTS to beat the living daylights out of them.
It’s a story that doesn’t hold up to a massive degree of scrutiny, let’s face it. So the only way it can get away with it is not to take itself too seriously. All the characters seem to be parodies of your usual Sci-Fi Action tropes. It’s also seems to enjoy bucking the trend in such movies and doesn’t feature the Americans saving the world. The commander is played by Idris Elba (in his normal accent) and features a fairly broad mix of actors from over the world. It has a nice dystopian feel about it, with everything looking grungy and held together with duck-tape and string. You get a sense of the population just trying to survive by any means necessary (you see people building shelters inside the remains of a fallen Kaiju).
What impresses me more than anything is the scale of the whole thing. Scenes are played out on an epic scale, with the Jaegers (the robots) and Kaiju beating each other with whatever happens to be at hand (including in one scene, a super tanker). But these scenes don’t feel over-done and you get enough of the back-story to understand what’s going on and what’s at stake.
The movie is ultimately let down by the humans in it in my opinion. Charlie Hunnam lacks any real conviction in the lead role, and is overshadowed by the far more bombastic Idris Elba. I liked Rinko Kikuchi, but she wasn’t used to her full potential. It was a little disappointing for a movie that seemed to want to parody (or buck) many classic Sci-Fi Action tropes, to end with the lantern-jawed hero saving the girl.
Ultimately, the movie is completely ludicrous (It’s GIANT ROBOTS fighting GIANT MONSTERS…). The action is mad, the dialogue is gloriously hammy in places and the science is questionable. But I didn’t care. It felt like it knew it was over the top and decided “to hell with it, let’s have some fun” (which is why I enjoyed it considerably more than “Now you see me”).