“Now You See Me” – This clever-enough heist movie in which all the perps are world-class magicians is a perfectly amiable Saturday night sort of popcorn flick. Sure, I might have liked it a tad better if it had been 20 minutes shorter, and directed with even a soupcon of visual panache (Louis Letterier, who cut his helming chops on “The Transporter,” is a journeyman at best). But the cast–Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, et al–is killer, and it’s infinitely less pretentious (and considerably more fun) than Chris Nolan’s similarly-themed “The Prestige” from 2006. Best of all, the twists actually make sense when you reassemble them in your head later so you won’t feel hoodwinked. (B).
New on DVD:
“A Good Day to Die Hard” – The single worst entry in the 25-year-old action franchise was directed by arguably the least talented director working in big budget Hollywood filmmaking today (John Moore of “Behind Enemy Lines” and “Max Payne” infamy). If this is the best that Bruce Willis and company can do, it’s time to retire John McClane once and for all. (D).
“Identity Thief” – Not entirely awful. It’s a half hour too long thanks to two completely unnecessary subplots: one with a Yosemite Sam-like bounty hunter, and the other involving two stereotypical (an African-American gang banger and a Latina spitfire) drug dealers. But once the movie–and Melissa McCarthy’s typically shrill, grating, over the top performance–settles down, it’s relatively painless. Jason Bateman remains a deft comic actor who just needs to pick better material. (C+).
“Warm Bodies” – Zombie teenage boy Nicholas Hoult (aptly cast) falls in love with a live teenage girl (winsome Teresa Palmer) in director Jonathan (“50/50”) Levine’s better-than-expected genre mash-up. Scene-stealing supporting turns by Rod Corddry (as Hoult’s best zombie bud) and John Malkovich (Palmer’s protective militarist pop) add to the dark-humored fun. (B).