Now You Don’t
I’m not sure how, but somehow 2013’s underwhelming Now You See Me managed to pull a sequel out of its hat. The ensemble film was the equivalent of asking someone to choose a card and place it on the top of the deck, then immediately pulling it off the top of the deck, dramatically asking ‘is this your card?’ and expecting everyone to be amazed. That is to say, it wasn’t very magical. Which is why it’s surprising that new director Jon M. Chu seemingly waved a wand and made the sequel improve on virtually every aspect of the original. The movie embraced its campiness, resulting in more of a ‘ta-da!’ and less of the first film’s ‘meh.’
This time around, our Horsemen, a group of Robin Hoods who use their ‘magic’ for public good, are tasked with exposing and ultimately stealing a corrupt businessman’s software that can compromise users’ personal information. Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco are joined by Lizzy Caplan, who replaced Isla Fisher as the token Horsewoman. Also on the roster is Mark Ruffalo’s Agent Dylan Rhodes, an FBI agent who serves as the group’s mole and the story’s emotional cornerstone. They’re locked in a battle of wits with Daniel Radcliffe’s Walter Mabry, who, disappointingly, does not make a single reference to his previous foray with magic.
Everything they built will fall
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: X-Men is one of the most unnecessary modern franchises in theaters. 2016 isn’t even halfway over, and Apocalypse is the fourth major superhero release of the year. It’s also a disappointment. After predecessor Days of Future Past reinvigorated the dying series, the ninth installment demotes its mutants to nothing more than a CGI spectacle riding the current superhero trend. The series only survived this long in the increasingly crowded genre due to the surprising quality of its predecessors. A step back like Apocalypse could spell out doom for the series.
Bryan Singer is ambitious to a fault this time around. This is his fourth time directing an X-Men movie, and he’s throwing too much at the screen to continue raising the stakes. The movie attempts to continue the saga that started 16(!) years ago while introducing new mutants and stories. The series has already rebooted itself in its previous installment, so that many of the characters in this film are just new versions of characters in the original trilogy. The end result is a mess of plot lines following old, new, and “new” characters, too much exposition, and too little action.