Now You See Me 2 Review: The Horsemen are back!

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“Yes, we are back, bitches.” Source: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment.

Having disappeared from the world since their last act off a Manhattan rooftop, Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson) and Jack Wilder (Dave Franco) have resurfaced again. Having lost Henley, Lula May (Lizzy Caplan) is roped in by Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo) to replace her in the Four Horsemen as they embark on their new mission. However, their plan goes awry when a tip-off alerts the FBI and they are cornered. Having to go to their escape plan, the Horsemen make their escape only to end up in Macau; where they’ve been kidnapped by a tech billionaire who faked his death, Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe). Upon realizing that there was a bigger picture to what was happening, the Horsemen and Dylan have to work together to create a foolproof plan to escape their would-be demise.

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“That’s my squad up there.” Source: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment.

I have to admit I’ve been waiting a long time for this sequel to happen. The wait was definitely worth it as I found myself literally woo-ing and ah-ing like a little girl at a magic show. The illusions in this film were definitely cooler than the first and more intricate.

The story line for the film was definitely genius for it seemed to me like it was a trick within a trick. Each time the audience gets led to believe the Horsemen were coming out victorious, we are given a twist that makes us rethink what would happen next.

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“I’m a pretty good replacement, right?” Source: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment.

What I liked most about this film was that no character was the definite lead at one time. Unlike most shows where certain actors were the lead, this film shared the lead role among Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan and Mark Ruffalo equally. Everyone had their fair screen time and lines that were essential to the film’s progress. No one had extra time just because they were more of an A-lister than the other. I was worried Lizzy Caplan would get shadowed by the other male leads in the film but she had equal screen time, giving the audience a sense of what Lula May was like – which I was very happy about.

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“It’s so great to be a part of a Magicians’ gang again!” Source: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment.

Daniel Radcliffe as a somewhat sociopathic villain of the film was both believably creepy and funny at the same time, especially when it came to the pivotal part of the film where a plot twist is thrown at the audience. As an Asian-Chinese, I do have to give special mention to Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman for not butchering Mandarin. Yes, it might seem a little off in terms of pronunciation but they deserve A+ for effort – at least I understood what they were saying. (There are actors out there who can’t even get the words out properly!)

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“Now let’s see Storm do what I do!” Source: Lionsgate, Summit Entertainment.

The mind-blowing scenes with the card trick and Atlas’ reverse rain trick were definitely my favorites from Now You See Me 2. Even if there were some CGI involved, they elaborate and well-thought of, making me forget that I’m watching a movie and not a magic show.

Much like its predecessor, Now You See Me 2 is another win for the franchise with its inventive story-telling and intricately executed illusions. I simply can’t wait to see what lies in store for Now You See Me 3 in 2019.

Rating:

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The Conjuring 2 Review: More scares than I can handle

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The Warrens are back! Source: Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

Following the case that brought about the rise of their paranormal investigative career, Lorraine Warren (Vera Farmiga) is haunted by a vision that scares her deeply. Wanting to take a break to prevent her vision from becoming a reality, she and her husband, Ed Warren (Patrick Wilson), decide to lay low for a bit – only accepting appearances at lectures and consulting instead of investigating. They are eventually
pulled back into full-time investigation when a priest comes to them with a case in Enfield, London, concerning Janet Hodgson, an 11-year old girl. As the case has become somewhat of a media circus, the Warrens agree to make a trip to London only to assess the situation. But, what turns out to be a possible hoax becomes something bigger, forcing Lorraine to face her frightening vision head-on.

I hadn’t been much of a fan of The Conjuring, though there were some scenes that did creep me out. Because of that, I went in with pretty low expectations as I’m more of an Insidious fan (that being my all-time favorite horror franchise after all). But I have to give this film credit – The Conjuring 2 exceeded my expectations and scared the bejeezus out of me.

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“It’s a paranormal problem, right? Not a boy problem?” Source: Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

The one thing I really loved about both Conjuring films were the opening scenes in which they dealt with the conclusion of another case. Much like The Conjuring‘s beginning with Annabelle, The Conjuring 2 began with a snippet from a seance in the Amityville house. It was a pleasant surprise for me as I was expecting the movie to dive straight into the Enfield case. But looking back at the entirety of the film, this was an essential piece of the plot that had to be included. And just like the popularity with giving Annabelle her own film, we might just be looking at a possible spin-off off an Amityville movie (the would-be 11th in a long-standing franchise of films of the same subject).

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“Honey, I love you but that is no Picasso piece.” Source: Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

In all honesty, I never knew a thing about The Enfield case until I found out The Conjuring was going to base their next movie off it. Led by curiosity, I googled the term ‘the enfield haunting’ and had a little bit more of an understanding. It was definitely one filled with controversies and from what I was reading, it seemed a little bit
uneventful. There wasn’t much ‘OMG’ moments in reading the summary of the real haunting and it frankly made my expectations really low for The Conjuring 2.

But, knowing Hollywood, they’ll probably add a bit of meat to beef up their story. And it didn’t disappoint – even when I take ‘based on a true story’ pretty seriously.

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“It’s behind me, isn’t it?” Source: Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

The scare factors for this film were not as relatable as Insidious 3 but it was good enough to give me the heebie-jeebies. The most impressionable scare scene for me was when Lorraine gets trapped in Ed’s study with the dude in the Nun habit. I am not that afraid of jump-scares but I absolutely hate scary scenes that mess with your mind. In this case, Lorraine chases after the spirit to the study but doesn’t find it inside. Instead, she sees Ed’s life-like portrait of the spirit and wonders if she had been seeing things. And then, lo and behold, the shadow of the spirit appears walking pass Lorraine towards the portrait. I literally kept repeating ‘GTFO lady, GTFO!’. But of
course, she doesn’t leave and everyone gets scared shitless.

Aside from the scares of the film, I liked that they showed a bit of the relationship Ed and Lorraine had. It was especially endearing to see how much the couple loved each other even when they are facing extreme paranormal dangers. I actually found myself worrying more about Ed during the investigation than Janet.

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Stellar performance by Madison Wolfe. Source: Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line Cinema.

I feel that Madison Wolfe deserves special mention for her acting chops that not only challenged her ability to keep speaking in a British accent but also to act as a possessed child. Playing Janet must have been quite a feat and if she’s able to handle a role like this at such a young age, I’m sure her acting future’s going to be pretty bright.

In my opinion, The Conjuring 2 has certainly outdone itself and I frankly can’t wait for The Conjuring 3 (please say there’ll be one!). But be warned, after watching this, the image of the Nun will still be present in your memory and would possibly resurface to scare you when you’re alone. You’ve been warned.

Rating:

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The Angry Birds Movie Review: A pretty funny adaption of a game app

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“Did you know I was a snowman in my other life?” Source: Rovio Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures.

Always never quite fitting in with the rest of the birds, Red (Jason Sudekis), has taken to living as an outcast. After having an altercation with a customer, he gets sentenced to anger management lessons where he meets the instructor, Matila (Maya Rudolph) and fellow attendees, Chuck (Josh Gad), Bomb (Danny McBride) and Terence (Sean Penn). One of their sessions gets disrupted when everyone rushes to the beach to meet an oncoming boat carrying green pigs led by Leonard (Bill Hader). Not having met anyone from the outside before, they welcome the pigs with open arms, except for Red. As the chumminess between the pigs and birds grows, Red’s suspicion deepens. They are finally confirmed when the pigs does the unthinkable and flees the island. Red enlists the help of Chuck and Bomb to locate their protector, Mighty Eagle (Peter Dinklage), for his help but when they realized he wasn’t what the legends made him out to be, Red and the other birds take it upon themselves to hunt down the pigs and take back what’s theirs.

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“Sorry – I didn’t mean to let one go..” Source: Rovio Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures.

For a comedy fan like me, it was a pretty impressive voice cast of comedians. We had SNL veterans, stand-up comedians and even Buster from Arrested Development in the mix. However, I felt that there were characters that could have been given more lines for the audience to catch their voices. It was especially disappointing for me to have barely heard Ike Barinholtz and Titus Burgess’ voices, when they were both so distinct. I could only tell myself that that’s their voices from my own deduction – since not all the pigs could be distinguished easily from their given names.

But, thankfully, the hilarious Maya Rudolph saved the film for me with her perfectly voiced Matilda, making me crack up each time she delivered her punchlines. Josh Gad didn’t disappoint as well although it was a little hard to distinguish if it was the yellow bird Chuck talking or the snowman, Olaf. I was mostly surprised with Peter Dinklage’s Mighty Eagle because he delivered his lines with comedic ease – something I had not expected from him.

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“Release the kracken!” Source: Rovio Entertainment, Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures.

The plot for the film was fairly simple but definitely gives a back story for fans of the popular game app, Angry Birds. For someone who always wondered why the heck the pigs were after the birds’ eggs, I finally got my answer while fighting the urge to launch a bird with the slingshot. It was really innovative on the film creators’ part to involve elements of the game into the movie. When I saw the birds cutting across the poorly-made pig houses, I felt the equal satisfaction of doing the same in the game. Here’s hoping that they would develop the game app adapted from the movie soon – I’d really like to see my favorite mime bird and ‘free hugs’ bird included!

For movie buffs, you’re going to like the homages they pay to The Shining and Quicksilver from X-Men. I burst out laughing when it came to the iconic scene with the twins holding hands, much to the confusion of a little kid sitting next to me.

A truly entertaining film for the young, old and Angry Birds fans.

Rating: 

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