What we generally perceive to be magic is a phenomenon that requires something very fundamental to be effective: your presence at the event. The act of magic is perceived as believable only when it occurs in front of an audience, even if that audience is one person.
At a magic show, the audience (however naïvely) feels more free to decide for themselves where to focus their attention, which supersedes the credibility of footage obtained by a television or a movie camera. Through editing and photography, filmmakers show us whatever they think makes the action work to their advantage.
And therein lies the big problem for films about magic. Failing the presence of the audience at the actual event, a successful film must somehow still communicate the authenticity of the performance, the lack of trickery.
Now You See Me has many big-name stars and revolves around magic, but although it pulls a very fancy rabbit out of its hat in the opening scene, in which a professional magician named Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) looks straight into the camera and proceeds with a magic trick in which he seems to read our minds, the film never again lives up to that scene-stealing performance.
Read the full review at The Prague Post.
(Still of Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Isla Fisher and Dave Franco in Now You See Me. Photo by Barry Wetcher – © 2013 Summit Entertainment, LLC. All rights reserved.)