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Movies Blog

The Hack Stamp: NOW YOU SEE ME

by Scott Renshaw
- Posted // 2013-05-31 - Apparently, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone earlier this spring wasn't enough for critics to get the hacky magic references out of their system.

The twisty-turny magic-themed caper thriller Now You See Me tries to keep audiences surprised, but there are few surprises in store for anyone reading the reviews. Several critics find themselves obsessed with sleeves:

“For all its showmanship, Now You See Me has a lot less up its sleeve than it lets on.” – Roger Moore, Movie Nation

“Its only knock is not having much up its sleeve for any actors playing the Four Horsemen.” – Nick Rogers, Suite101.com

“This movie has everything up its sleeve and presto chango at its core.” – Steve Persall, Tampa Bay Times

Now struggles to pull off its cinematic sleights of hand. … [I]t's mostly smoke and mirrors. … Now has little up its sleeve.” – Scott Bowles, USA Today

Others go for gags built around the movie's title:

“Now you see it, now you don’t, now you stop thinking about it.” – Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times

Now You See Me is more like Now You Don’t when it comes to a big finish.” – Rick Bentley, Fresno Bee

Now You See Me should not be seen.” – Bruce Kirkland, JAM Movies

But mostly, they just go for some kind of mention of magic, or magic tricks, or disappearing, or whatever:

“It takes a certain dark magic to make the talent of a top cast disappear right before your eyes.” – Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

“… its most astonishing trick is how little mileage it gets out of a stellar cast.” – Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic

"... ends up being nothing more than some very clumsy cinema sleight-of-hand." -- Stephen Whitty, The Star-Ledger (Newark)

“A synthetic sleight of hand that divulges plenty of tricks …a threadbare and unmemorable gimmick of a film so inconsequential that its very existence seems to vanish before one's eyes.” – Dustin Putman, DustinPutman.com

“…enjoy the tricks and the great performances and directions that are real movie magic.” – Nell Minow, Beliefnet.com

“There is very little magic in the plodding plot.” – Gary Wolcott, Tri-City Herald

“Like a good magic trick, if you look too hard for the strings, you'll sap it of its enjoyment.” – Mike Scott, Times-Picayune (New Orleans)

“All too quickly ... the smoke clears and Now You See Me proves to be less than meets the eye.” – Liam Lacey, Globe and Mail (Toronto)

“It has the magic for a while ... and then it disappears.” – Tom Long, Detroit News

“… just fancy sleight of hand covering an otherwise mediocre script.” – Jim Judy, Screen It!

Special kudos to this week's Best Individual Hack Stamp Sentence, a tangled cocktail of mixed metaphors plus a wink at another magic-themed movie:

“Like most good magic tricks, Now You See Me relies on amusing distractions in order to make a straightforward technical exercise feel like it’s worth the price of admission, and while there may not be much prestige in that, there are certainly worse ways to make your money disappear.” – William Bibbiani, Crave Online

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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