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Now You See Me 2: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Now You See Me 2 (2016) movie poster Now You See Me 2

Theatrical Release: June 10, 2016 / Running Time: 129 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Jon M. Chu / Writers: Ed Solomon (story & screenplay); Pete Chiarelli (story); Boaz Yakin, Edward Ricourt (characters)

Cast: Jesse Eisenberg (J. Daniel Atlas), Mark Ruffalo (Dylan Rhodes), Woody Harrelson (Merritt McKinney, Chase McKinney), Dave Franco (Jack Wilder), Daniel Radcliffe (Walter Mabry), Lizzy Caplan (Lula), Jay Chou (Li), Sanaa Lathan (Deputy Director Natalie Austin), Michael Caine (Arthur Tressler), Morgan Freeman (Thaddeus Bradley), David Warshofsky (Agent Cowan), Tsai Chin (Bu Bu), William Henderson (Young Dylan), Richard Laing (Lionel Shrike)

Buy Now You See Me 2 from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD • 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD • Instant Video

Now You See Me 2, which clearly should instead be titled Now You Don't, follows up the 2013 caper whose success surprised in that it wasn't based on anything. If hits without a pre-existing brand or source text are rare,
sequels to such hits are even rarer. I had doubts the moment this follow-up was greenlit, so I'm glad to report that Now 2 is not as unnecessary or redundant as you might fear.

The Horsemen, a popular group of magicians whose act also involves a bit of do-good thievery, are in hiding after having stolen millions from an insurance magnate. In case you need a refresher, the collective consists of street magician Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg), death-faking pickpocket and sleight of hand illusionist Jack Wilder (Dave France), hypnotist Merritt McKinney (Woody Harrelson), and, the real leader behind the scenes, FBI Agent Dylan Rhodes (Mark Ruffalo).

Due to pregnancy, Isla Fisher has not returned as escape artist Henley Reeves, creating an opening for a female that is soon filled by Lula (Lizzy Caplan), whose skills have developed considerably since she infamously pulled a hat out of a rabbit eight years ago.

Death-faking British tycoon Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe) enlists the Four Horsemen (Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Lizzy Caplan, and Jesse Eisenberg) to pull off a major heist for him in "Now You See Me 2."

The gang is back in action at a software company launch, but while they are prompting via hypnosis the company's crooked CEO to embarrass himself, the stage performers and their secret ally/chief FBI investigator are exposed. Making their getaway, they end up in Macau, China, where they discover they have been conned by Merritt's twin brother Chase (Harrelson with a full head of hair, a tan, and bleached teeth), who is doing the bidding of Walter Mabry (Daniel Radcliffe), a young businessman who faked his own death a year ago and is living off the grid.

Walter demands that the Horsemen steal a new computer chip that has near-infinite potential to manipulate the financial market and invade people's privacy. They're not sold on the plan, but they agree, acquiring some supplies at the world's oldest magic shop, which is run by an old woman (Tsai Chin) and her grandson (Jay Chou) who know more than they let on. Also featuring in the plot is imprisoned magic debunker Thaddeus Bradley (Morgan Freeman) and Walter's illegitimate father, the swindled swindler Arthur Tressler (Michael Caine).

A large part of the original Now's appeal lied in the fact that it was just an entertaining standalone movie, not part of a franchise or a "cinematic universe" or even a remake. Now it is a franchise but in making the leap to that it has managed to not lose its sense of fun. Now 2 is, much like its predecessor, an entertaining movie with broad appeal. It's not a "film" and it's not trying to build mythology to expand into more sequels and spin-offs or other mediums. It's just good PG-13 popcorn entertainment, the kind that otherwise almost always involves superheroes these days.

Double your Harrelson, double your fun? Woody Harrelson plays both hypnotist Merritt McKinney and his tan, curly-haired, white-teethed evil twin brother Chase in "Now You See Me 2."

These heroes have illusionary powers that are easy to believe with the movie magic that a studio film's visual effects budget can easily supply. They're fun characters who form an even more fun dynamic.
I compared the first film to Ocean's Eleven and thankfully, this one isn't an Ocean's Twelve. Though the cast is clearly having a good time, they have not forgotten there is an audience to satisfy. Those who liked the first Now should also enjoy the second serving.

Jon M. Chu (Step Up sequels, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Jem and the Holograms) has taken the directing torch from Louis Leterrier (Clash of the Titans and 2008's The Incredible Hulk) and though neither man's résumé breeds much hope, the enjoyable outings prove the material is enough fun to not require a gifted and distinct artist at the helm. Meanwhile, two of the original film's three writers have been replaced to no apparent detriment. Ed Solomon (Men in Black), returning, is alone attributed for the screenplay and shares story credit with Pete Chiarelli (The Proposal). Solomon again displays the ability to divide action among the ensemble tactfully and to craft creative twists that are easy to follow and easy to swallow.

The cast is once again on point, from legends Freeman and Caine staying sharp in old age to Harrelson having fun with double duty to Ruffalo and Eisenberg proving their ability to improve popcorn movies and art films alike. Caplan, who has some of the film's better lines, is no downgrade from Fisher, who only appears in photos and is kind of hastily written out. Radcliffe seems comfortable in a villain's role and in this company, fitting in as well as Al Pacino did in Ocean's Thirteen and suggesting he can have a long career not only as leading man.

The scene involving the McGuffin chip's heist runs a little too long, unfolding with a playing card being thrown and hidden more times than it has any reason to. But it's diverting enough that you can suspend disbelief. These movies are kind of like the National Treasure ones in that regard. There is plenty of humor and action. It is all nimble and deft enough to please everyone from an 11-year-old boy to his grandfather. It's not challenging or something that will stick with you. It's just slick escapist entertainment that only the movies can provide.

Now You See Me 2 went head to head with another sequel to a summer 2013 hit in The Conjuring 2. As expected, both films attracted audiences for the one week they had before Finding Dory pushed them downstream. While Conjuring 2 still made it to the $100 million mark, Now 2 didn't have anywhere near the legs of its predecessor and sputtered out at a disappointing $65 million domestic. That was not a huge deal because foreign business was even better before, contributing more than 80% to the sequel's robust $329 M worldwide take.

A third Now installment has already been in the works since last year, with Chu and leading cast members all signed on to return. Having already missed one golden title opportunity, let's hope they call it Now You Three Me.

Three months after opening in theaters, Now 2 reached Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD this week from Summit parent Lionsgate. We review the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack here.

Now You See Me 2: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen (DVD Anamorphic)
Blu-ray: 7.1 Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD (English), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service, Optimized for Late Night Viewing)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Spanish), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Descriptive Video Service)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extras Not Subtitled
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Two Single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Lenticular Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD ($29.95 SRP), 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($42.99 SRP), and on Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Now You See Me 2 may not be the biggest of big budget productions, but its $75 million price tag is more than enough to ensure we get a dynamic film boasting high quality picture and sound on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture bursts with life, while the default Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack is similarly satisfying, distributing sounds from all speakers while not making the elements fight one another to be heard.

Bearded silver fox Mark Ruffalo (star of "You Can 'Depend' on Me") testifies to the cast's camaraderie in "The Art of the Ensemble." Director Jon M. Chu seems happy about every aspect of the movie including shooting in London and Macau.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

Both the Blu-ray and DVD get a solo audio commentary by director Jon M. Chu.
Though Chu comes across as an insincere self-promoter in the interview featurettes, he's better here, discussing what's onscreen in terms of how it came to be. He clearly isn't approaching the film as a mindless paycheck (nor should he, for it is by far his best film to date), showing genuine appreciation and enthusiasm for his cast and crew.

The Blu-ray proceeds to get three lengthy featurettes, only one of which makes it to the DVD.

We begin with "The Art of the Ensemble" (21:11), which finds cast and crew vouching for the obvious camaraderie and expressing admiration for one another. The highlight is Morgan Freeman saying he's been a huge fan of Mark Ruffalo since You Can Depend on Me (sic).

"You Can't Look Away" (17:14), the only one of the featurettes to also be included on the DVD, pays notice to the international locations in London and Macau and the production's set design and camera work.

Dave Franco takes his card-throwing seriously being trained in "Bringing Magic to Life." The great Morgan Freeman gets his time to shine on the creative Now You See Me 2 main menu.

"Bringing Magic to Life" (16:09) celebrates the use of practical effects as much as possible on the film's magic tricks,
with footage of the cast practicing their illusions and then performing for the cameras.

"Also from Lionsgate" repeats the five trailers which play automatically at disc insertion, for Deepwater Horizon, Nerve, Allegiant, The Last Witch Hunter, and The Hunger Games: Complete 4-Film Collection. NYSM2's own trailers are sadly but unsurprisingly nowhere to be found here.

The nice menu cycles through the cast with clips and some score. The Blu-ray both supports bookmarking and resumes unfinished playback of anything.

Now You See Me 2 gets two uniquely labeled full-color discs, but that's not the best thing about the packaging. The eco-friendly keepcase's obligatory slipcover features a creative lenticular face that alternates between the cast shot of the cover below and decks of cards, an illusion that embodies the title and the Horsemen's penchant for disappearing.

The Horsemen (Lizzy Caplan, Dave Franco, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson) disguise themselves to get a tour of a highly coveted and powerful computer chip.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

My fellow critics were even more down on Now You See Me 2 than they were its predecessor, but I found both movies to provide uncommon fun as popcorn entertainment fit for virtually all ages. Lionsgate's Blu-ray combo pack offers a delightful feature presentation, a solid near-hour of making-of featurettes, and a pretty good commentary. If you liked the original, I suspect and hope you will enjoy this one too as I did.

Buy Now You See Me 2 from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
Now You See Me
New to Disc: The Conjuring 2 • Money Monster • The Nice Guys • Me Before You • Genius • Equals • Love & Friendship
Jesse Eisenberg: Zombieland • 30 Minutes or Less | Woody Harrelson: The Hunger Games: Complete 4-Film Collection
Mark Ruffalo: Spotlight • Foxcatcher | Morgan Freeman: Last Vegas • Olympus Has Fallen | Jay Chou: The Green Hornet
Lizzy Caplan: The Night Before • The Interview | Dave Franco: Scrubs: The Complete Ninth Season • 21 Jump Street
Directed by Jon M. Chu: G.I. Joe: Retaliation • Step Up 2 The Streets • Step Up 3 • Justin Bieber: Never Say Never
Written by Ed Solomon: Men in Black • Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure | Written by Pete Chiarelli: The Proposal
National Treasure: Book of Secrets • Ocean's Thirteen • The Prestige

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Reviewed September 9, 2016.



Text copyright 2016 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2016 Summit Entertainment, TIK Films, K/O Paper Products, and Lionsgate.
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