Now You See Me 2

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Vampire Owl: Do you remember the first movie? I loved it.

Vampire Bat: Yes, remember that I recommended it to you when you were practising black magic.

Vampire Owl: It was something like grey magic. Don’t overdo it.

Vampire Bat: There is no grey magic. It was just neutral dwarf magic.

Vampire Owl: Still, I did better than these people. I had magical flexibility of the immortal kind.

Vampire Bat: I loved the first movie. It was too good.

Vampire Owl: Yes, it was something which had a lot to keep us interested in the journey through the world of magic.

Vampire Bat: There is also a third movie coming up.

Vampire Owl: Now you believe me when I say that magic never dies.

Vampire Bat: I am not sure about that, but this franchise is certain to live long.

[Gets three cups of tea with banana chips].

What is the movie about? :: About an year after outsmarting the FBI and all who were after them, the Four Horsemen or what remains of them – J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) are hiding and preparing for a big event which is to come, but they don’t know what awaits them. Henley Reeves (Isla Fisher) had left the Horsemen and they are left with three, which gets them the fourth member in the form of Lula (Lizzy Caplan), making the team complete again. Tired of waiting for their next big event, Daniel does try to contact the Eye by himself, and gets the reply that there is something huge coming. The FBI agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) finally assigns them a new mission, which is about exposing the greedy businessman Owen Case (Ben Lamb) who is stealing private data from people with his new software.

So, what happens next? :: The team of four successfully infiltrate the grand programme organised by Owen, and are so close to getting to their objective, but are interrupted by an unknown person who reveals to the crowd that Jack who was thought to be dead is actually alive, and Dylan is actually a part of the Horsemen and has been fooling the FBI right from the beginning itself. This forces Dylan to escape, and the Horsemen who enters their escape tube resurfaces at Macau and are welcomed by Chase McKinney (once again played by Woody Harrelson), Merritt’s twin brother who has the reputation of making his brother’s life a living hell. There they meet Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), who used to Owen’s business partner who who had been deprived of his company and had faked his death after Owen gained full control of everything he had worked for. For the same, he seeks revenge, and wishes to steal from Owen a chip which could decrypt anything in the world.

The defence of Now You See Me 2 :: Some movies will stay with you for long with the magic inside them, and the first movie was like that, with magic within magic, and this one kind of inherits that quality, but only upto an extent. There is entertainment guaranteed, and there are those twists as there is more to Walter who had made the Horsemen steal the chip with vengeance around the corner – there is also more than what meets the eye for the character Thaddeus Bradley too. They are the kind of twists you hadn’t expected that you would see in a second movie; well you never really expected a sequel and so that is another twist. When you feel that this is not going as you had expected, there is that one final twist that gets things together to end the movie well. In the end, one will wonder if it is the superior quality of the first movie that has made this one feel not that awesome – but this is still good in its own style anyway.

The claws of flaw :: A comparison with the first movie will make this one feel less significant as a movie with magic, as the original Now You See Me was the innovator, and it had more strength in the delightful surprises coming from within, instead of twisting things like this sequel does at times. This might also be a little too complicated for many, while not bringing enough of those magical effects. The magic used to be more beautiful, and without doubt, more interesting earlier – but this one often pretends that it doesn’t know the strengths of that first movie which was appreciated by so many people. There are times when we feel that this movie was made more to capitalize on the success of the first movie, and nothing else. Even then, this movie somehow manages to be too long. This one could have used better ideas and more inspiration which would have made Now You See Me 2 rise above its predecessor – but it doesn’t come close.

Performers of the soul :: We once again have the horsemen as entertaining performers here, and the movie depends a lot on them to bring the fun and style to the screen. Jesse Eisenberg leads the way as expected, but one is sure to feel that his character was better in the first movie. Mark Ruffalo remains solid, even when his character goes on to make some of the stranger decisions. Woody Harrelson’s second role was kind of unnecessary, but he is right there with the main role. Dave Franco does the same as he did in the first movie, while Lizzy Caplan becomes a good addition with her best scene being the introduction itself, but everyone is sure to miss Isla Fisher who was such an integral part of the first movie – her replacement here also has her moments, which you are sure to notice. Daniel Radcliffe brings some difference as the villain, but he is not that interesting an antagonist throughout the movie as you go through. Morgan Freeman’s extension of secrets made sure that he had our attention with the character doing much more than we thought.

How it finishes :: You are not going regret watching Now You See Me 2, and if you haven’t watched the first movie, you are only going to love this one a lot more. This one also leaves us asking for more from a sequel which seems all set to arrive. The universe of Now You See Me has been expanded further, and we are more certain to see that there is a lot more to come, especially regarding “The Eye”. There is never enough of magic in our lives, right? The need for an answer to this question is not really there, as we know how much these two movies grossed. So lets see if the third movie becomes a better one that rises to the occasion nicely enough to make this trilogy an unforgettable one, or if it fails to come anywhere close, and thus leaving us with nothing to finish this franchise which had all the potential in the world. We shall hope, and wait for the magic; until then, this one will prove good enough.

Release date: 10th June 2016
Running time: 129 minutes
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Lizzy Caplan, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Daniel Radcliffe, Jay Chou, Sanaa Lathan, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Jay Chou, Henry Lloyd-Hughes, Ben Lamb, David Warshofsky, Richard Laing, Zach Gerard, Zoey Callandria Jones, Alberto Calvet Gonzalez

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠ The Vampire Bat.

Captain Phillips

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There are only two a few movies which delivers almost in the same manner as the critics say; and we have had two in the gap on one month, which were Rush and Gravity; to that list, here comes Captain Phillips. It is easy to brand a movie as bad and the flick can easily live up-to that bad reputation; but when the critics say a movie is exceptional, there are only a few movies which actually prove them right for the common audience, and Captain Phillips is such a movie. There are so many movies branded as bad by the critics which were actually either good or bad, and there were others which were somehow branded good; but when we talk about this movie along with the other two I mentioned earlier, there would be a uniformity in this branding, and they are exceptional, no matter how we look at them; and who looks at them from which angle and on which day. Welcome to the thirty days of awesomeness from Hollywood, with the exception of Runner Runner – this was a month which started with the first two movies rating 57/200 together, and the last two rated 177/200; it is a strange month indeed!

Our first idea was to leave this movie behind, but that had to change. It was not just the reviews that did it, as it was more about the brilliance of Rush which we had earlier ignored brought to me. It almost completely took away the need to watch a movie which worked on familiar or more interesting background. So this is more of a biopic of Captain Richard Phillips, who was taken hostage by Somalian pirates in the Indian Ocean in 2009; we used to wonder – how is it going to work out? We had already watched a Tamil movie in the form of Maryan which had a hostage situation involving armed men from Sudan. Even as it turned out to be good, there were lot of things lacking in there as it scored just with the visuals, music and the right cast. It had stuck to the love theme in quite an unrealistic manner, and there it lost the footing a bit. Here we have another situation, and here we have Tom Hanks, along with the most realistic portrayal which is more focused on one thing rather than too many unnecessary exaggerated things which were praised to the heavens in the form of love and a lot like the same.

Richard Phillips (Tom Hanks) is the captain of MV Maersk Alabama in its journey from Oman to Kenya. There is the high chance of being attacked by pirates of Somalia, and they take enough precautions, even keeping two groups of pirates away as they use deception of an airstrike arriving and also the waves of the ship itself to keep the groups away. The first group gets frightened and the second gets the boat’s engine out of order. One of the two groups of pirates return on the next day led by Abduwali Muse (Barkhad Abdi) in a faster boat, carrying a quickly prepared ladder. In spite of the valiant efforts of the crew with pumps and waves, they get on board with the rusty ladder, after taking advantage of a faulty pump, capturing the captain and two others while the rest of the crew keeps themselves safe in the ship’s engine room. Muse hopes to keep the ship for asking for insurance money from the shipping company, and in case of a failure he has to answer to his bosses. About fourty or fourty five minutes into the movie, the ship has already been captured by the pirates.

As the crew capture the pirate leader, they are able to get the pirates into the ship’s lifeboat, but they manage to take Phillips with them as they go into the water in hope for getting some ransom money for the captain. The second half of the movie is about the life in that one orange boat and the efforts of the navy to get the captain back. The ship keeps following the lifeboat until the U.S. Navy destroyer USS Bainbridge arrives, followed by two other ships of combat. The pirates also lose contact with their mother boat and decides to go all the way to Somalia which the U.S. Navy ships can’t allow. As the pirates know that they have come too far to quit right now, the navy is ordered not to let them get to the land at any cost. Phillips’ efforts to reason with the pirates is in vain and so is his effort to swim away from them to one of the ships. They ask for money in millions for which the navy asks for time. Meanwhile, the SEAL shooters are trying to get shots to take down the pirates. The hostage situation gets worse as the pirates gets impatient and restless. The question would be about how they take care of the situation keeping the hostage alive and how the captain himself manages to keep him alive and in his senses.

As you might have already guessed, this is the movie of Tom Hanks. He depicts his character with such sincerity which is rarely seen on screen. I have known him for Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Appollo 13, Catch Me If You Can, Saving Private Ryan and The Terminal, but from now on-wards I shall know him first for this movie than any other. Yes, there are many other movies of class, but this is the one for now, to be discussed a lot and to be thought about a lot along with all that admiration which it gained with the claps in the theatre, even as it was not that loud as what Rush has managed even with a lesser audience. Tom Hanks is Richard Phillips, a man in charge of a ship and the captain who is taken as a hostage in a lifeboat, beaten up and almost killed by the pirates. There is no doubt left in the mind of the viewers about that. He lives through that experience rather than act with the tide. The portrayal of the leading character is worth the applause as he is a common man, an average person who does nothing heroic to be exact, just what is necessary and what was indeed the right thing. He doesn’t create a spectacle, but lives through that perfectly.

Even as we would never come to know the exact events of the Maersk Alabama hijacking and the Richard Phillips hostage crisis of 2009, the film’s version shall stand as the version that we know. It might not be perfect or close enough that perfection which one can imagine while watching such a movie inspired by true events. The movie has to be applauded for how much it has kept close to a realistic depiction of a ship hijacking and a hostage crisis though, without any exaggeration or stuff for the fans. In spite of the same, the movie is still thrilling, something I had my doubts about. The movie does have the moments of slowing down and repetitions, which can’t be denied, but those moments are very less. The climax scene is really good, and Tom Hanks as well as the actors who played the pirates go through that tense situation very well. The movie does put a strong value on the lives of one human, and places it as the central point. One would be left to wonder how many governments of the world would value the lives of their citizens this much. By the end, the humanity shall turn out victorious as most us already know from what we read from the internet.

Taking the action back from the thrilling climax, I would say that the moments in the ship was the best. What came between the time from the arrival of the SEALs and the negotiation with the pirate leader was a bit of slow and slightly dragging – still not something worth putting the blame on. Here we also have the realistic depiction of piracy, and it is a good reminder to those pirate loving fans of Pirates of the Carribean fans. There is no Captain Jack Sparrow when talking about it, and its time one stops heavily romanticizing vampires, werewolves and pirates just because some books or movies had such depictions. But the movie doesn’t fail to bring out how much of a situation the pirates are caught within, between their bosses and the risk of being murdered or caught by the armed forces. Piracy might remain a cause of concern for a long time, and this movie takes a realistic look into it, asserting the need to get rid of it. One last word would be about Barkhad Abdi who played the pirate leader Abduwali Muse – a great effort indeed; smart, intense and still funny at times; saying that he loves America and wants to live there for the rest of his life. This one is surely a strong contender for some Academy awards next year – along with Gravity and Rush.

Release date: 11th October 2013
Running time: 134 minutes
Directed by: Paul Greengrass
Starring: Tom Hanks, Catherine Keener, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Mahat M. Ali, Michael Chernus, David Warshofsky, Corey Johnson, Chris Mulkey, Yul Vazquez, Max Martini, Omar Berdouni, Mohamed Ali, Issak Farah Samatar

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@ Cemetery Watch
✠The Vampire Bat.