-A useless sequel that contains very little magic and an overrated mockumentary from The Lonely Island.
The 2nd installment that no one asked for arrived in theaters this past week, in a summer that has become increasingly sequel heavy, much to the disdain of movie fans everywhere. In the very small chance that this was a film that you were waiting for, you may find enjoyment in the crisp cleanliness of this caper crusade. For everyone else, who may have disliked the first film, this bigger/badder follow-up is just that: bigger and badder (worse).
When business mogul Walter (Daniel Radcliffe), the son of last film’s villain Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine), is financially harmed through the wild antics of the robin-hood-esque Four Horsemen (Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, and Lizzy Kaplan), he decides to black mail them into stealing a very important piece of computer equipment that could make for a large tool in dangerous hands.
With the ever-watchful “Eye” of powerful magic overseers watching, the Horsemen get trapped in a nasty web with Walter and Arthur, while their behind the scenes leader (Mark Ruffalo) seeks help from an old enemy to help his team out of a sticky situation (Morgan Freeman).
I’m going to open my blurb on this film by completely skipping the larger implications of what this film tries to do. The idea of the “eye” being the powerful beings of magic that are constantly testing the Horsemen, and the possibly fracturing of the group by who cares about them or who doesn’t adds unnecessary confusion to a film that needs to completely rely on being likable. There isn’t enough intrigue in this mystical group to keep the messy storytelling afloat, so the film has to entirely rely on its main over-plot to work, and it really struggles in that regard.
While Daniel Radcliffe seems to have fun in his five-second villain role, the messy pacing leaves the movie without a negative force for awhile, and it being more about watching the team do CGI card tricks adds to the overall sense of helplessness as a viewer. Now You See Me 2 refuses to be clear, instead deciding on these flashy sequences to try to mask the fact that the plot falls apart at the two minute mark. I wasn’t fooled.
Now You See Me 2 (2016)
Director: Jon Chu (Step Up 2, Step Up 3, GI Joe: Retaliation, Jem and the Holograms)
Starring: Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, and Daniel Radcliffe
with: Dave Franco, Lizzy Kaplan, Michael Caine, Sanaa Lathan, and Jay Chau
RT Score: 35%
I expected for this to be an unpopular review, as I had been openly critical of Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping on our podcast last week after it had been pretty widely praised from critics and people who actually saw it…but that was the problem: no one saw it.
Andy Samberg’s new music-comedy plummeted out of theaters, making less than $10 million domestically, and this can be entirely pinned on the ad campaign, and how frustratingly annoying it was handled. It also hurts that Samberg’s biggest fans (people in their 20s who like his SNL work) have moved beyond finding the poorly-written pop spoofs very funny.
Samberg is Connor4Real, a Justin Bieber-like star who is going through a downturn in his career. In true mockumentary style, he is joined by plenty of great celebrity cameos, but other performances, Sarah Silverman or Tim Meadows for example, are sturdy enough to work within the film.
Overall, this will be a film that gets buried in the “i saw it once and laughed a couple times,” type of comedy that only goes as far as Samberg’s performance will take it. He’s very good, and gets a lot of mileage out of a one-joke concept (a few bits involving a TMZ spoof and a turtle are fairly effective also), but once the songs come in, it’s obvious that the Lonely Island back-log of material has run pretty dry. We’re not in 2008.
Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping (2016)
Director: A. Schaffer and J. Taccone (The Watch, Hot Rod, MacGruber)
Starring: Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Sarah Silverman, and Tim Meadows
with: Chris Redd, Imogen Poots, and Justin Timberlake
RT Score: 76%
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