I have to say that I was a fan of the original. Can’t say that I would change anything in that film. It was solid. Good storytelling with the mix of effects. It left you wanting to go watch an actual magic show, because they showed you enough actual magic to interest you, and enough left to the imagination to make you curious.
But that isn’t true for 2.
But I think it could be better if we changed a couple of things.
(SPOILER ALERT! I will be mentioning some major plot points, so if you haven’t seen this yet, do not go. Do not collect $200.)
First, as great as it was to see the whole original movie cast reprise their roles (minus Isla Fisher), it was painful watching them try to execute a revenge story around magic. It fell flat. We need new characters. New faces. New magic.
Yes, the characters have their special trick or niche that they alone can do, but rehashing the same old tricks or the same trick numerous times in a film is the worst.
How about we see The Eye and meet members of it? How about a gauntlet of magic, where the Horsemen have to prove their worthiness when their actions from 1 seem suspect? How about a changing of the guard in The Eye that leave Rhodes (played by Mark Ruffalo) with support and on the outs with the FBI?
While this sounds so vague, it is ripe with story telling possibilities. Rivalries. Forbidden romances. Cheating. Backstabbing. Abandonment. The collapse of The Eye itself. Stop me when you think any of that, thrown into a world where magic is real, would be great.
New Faces. New magic. And if you want to bring Morgan Freeman back, and finish that part of the story fine.
Second, minimize the CGI.
I could go on a rant about CGI and how it ruins the illusion of film, and many people have. So go listen to them, because I’m not going to say anything different.
It is hard enough to believe in magic as it is. (If you don’t believe me, watch this clip by comedian Pete Holmes.) When you mix that with subpar CGI, you weaken an already unstable house of cards.
So either, put more money into the CGI so that I’m not removed from the movie, OR (and this is what I would prefer they had done) come up with a script and subsequent magic tricks that will dazzle and amaze, and propel the narrative forward that aren’t hinging on effects.
Is that a lot to ask for? Sure. But when you have David Copperfield and other magicians as producers on your film…I think you can do better.
Third, drum up some emotion.
In Now You See Me, you feel for the Horsemen. They are four magicians trying to make their way in the world. They are down on their luck, doing what they can for a buck. And if that isn’t the case, you admire their conviction and dedication to their craft. So you cheered for them, because they were the underdog.
In Now You See Me 2, I felt nothing for them. This is not the actors fault. They are working with what they got. But if I don’t feel any connection to the main characters, the people I should be cheering for, then I won’t and probably leave the theatre. Or turn off Netflix. They were the wanderers,…from the first movie,…so I guess we still cheer for them and care about them….(if you can’t tell my tone through my writing here, it is disappointed and one filled with reluctance).
I think a shift in story would have given the characters a chance to emote, feel something other than confusion, lostness, and frustration. There are other emotions. Show them to us.
Yes, the audience can connect to those, but if that is it…what kind of audience are you trying to hold captive with your story telling?
And there you have it.
I realize that those are very broad strokes on how I would rework Now You See Me 2, but in this case I think a complete overhaul is in order.
And that’s How To Fix It.