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Now You See Me 2

Finding Dory

June 16, 2016

Now You See Me 2 (**)

PG-13

The modestly entertaining 2013 film Now You See Me was a fun, albeit slight, piece of pop filmmaking concerning a group of magicians who called themselves The Four Horsemen and built a career out using their talents to make themselves large sums of money by stealing from the wealthy. As an added bonus the film had a built-in revenge subplot that kept the film’s story rolling along at a pretty good clip and provided the kind of entertainment that’s fun while you’re experiencing it but also that evaporates soon thereafter. It had its charms but was hardly the type of thing that was begging for a sequel. That’s mainly because it was fairly evident during that first go round that there wasn’t really enough story to sustain another Now You See Me chapter as all loose ends were pretty well tied up by the film’s end.

Of course the original film was a surprise success at the box office and we all know the bean counters weren’t going to rest until another helping of Now You See Me was served.

Scene from Now You See Me 2

That would be okay if this was a film that warranted another outing but it’s clear from the creaky plot points in the film that writer Ed Solomon—a gifted screenwriter on better days, by the way—was straining to find enough of a cohesive story to keep this thing from completely jumping off the tracks. The discordant plot strands that eventually come together never seem to feel as if they belong in the same film. Now You See Me 2 is mildly diverting at times but generally unsatisfying on the whole and, by the film’s end, too dull for its own good.

In this outing, The Four Horseman (Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Jesse Eisenberg), joined by a new female addition, Lulu (Lizzy Caplin, who’s very easy on the eyes here), are recruited by an industrialist (Daniel Radcliffe) to steal a chip of some sort. Meanwhile, the famed magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman), incarcerated at the last film’s end, wants revenge against the FBI agent and fifth member of the Four Horsemen (?), Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo). As in the last film there’s trick editing to spare that explains how everything is done via flashbacks, asides, and so on. It all becomes very tedious after awhile.

The cast does their best with what they have offered to them but it really amounts to even less than what the first film amounted to, and yet, the film leaves it open for a sequel that I’m told is already being readied for release next year. Hopefully, Now You See Me 3 will find a compelling story to tell that this one did not.
 
Finding Dory (***) PG

I think it’s important to mention that I’m one of the very few, and I do mean very few, who found the beloved 2003 Pixar/Disney concoction Finding Nemo to be merely enjoyable and not much else. The tale of a fish and his quest to find his son was, in my eyes, the typical kind of thing that Disney was known for churning out and indistinguishable from many other films in the Pixar canon. One would be hard pressed to say that it was anything near the level of something like Toy Story, if one were to compare it to other Pixar/Disney projects. I admired the film for its craft but there wasn’t much of a takeaway once the experience evaporated from memory.

I mention all of this because I had pretty much the same experience with the belated sequel to Finding Nemo, the similarly titled, Finding Dory. It’s a likeable film that goes down easy enough and, admittedly, it is nice to revisit those beloved characters that audiences were introduced to all those years ago. I’m sure that those with a soft spot in their heart for the original film are no doubt going to love this one, as well they should. As for myself, I could feel the film fading from memory as I walked down the sidewalk after the screening, although it’s hard to dislike a film that engenders as much good will as Finding Dory.

Dory (voiced by Ellen DeGeneres), the fish with short-term memory loss, was more or less a supporting player in the first film as she served to aid Nemo (voiced here and in the earlier entry by Albert Brooks) in his quest to locate his son.

Dad, Nemo & Dory, in Finding Dory

Here she’s aided by Nemo and his offspring in her quest to locate her parents. This, of course, takes them on all sorts of misadventures, leading to a very rousing climax, wherein Dory takes control of a truck full of fish. The scene where the truck goes careening into the water to the strains of the Louis Armstrong standard What a Wonderful World is worth the price of admission alone.

With the exception of the Toy Story franchise Pixar Animation Studios has not fared well with sequels and it’s good to see them break that streak with Finding Dory. Such efforts as Cars 2 and Monsters University felt like more like a cash grab than an honest attempt to recapture the feeling of the initial entries of those aforementioned films. Rest assured that Finding Dory can rest on its own laurels in terms of its quality, even if this movie reviewer may not be the ideal audience that the filmmakers had in mind.

Both these movies are at the Carmike in Hickory and theaters around this area.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.

 

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