In the age where too much is given away in trailers, the one for “Now You See Me” seems to be supposedly hiding secrets. While that may be true, what we do see is a group of magicians doing things that real magicians couldn’t really do in real life. Some would assuredly like to, though anyone with knowledge of real magic techniques knows what’s shown in the “Now You See Me” trailer strains believability in how far magicians would take things.
The movies, though, are a fabulous place to inflate professions, especially mysterious ones. Magicians have always been a mystery, and the movies have finally broached the subject in both serious and comedic ways. “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist” brought the serious edges that perhaps led to the notion of magicians having to top what they did before. Oppositely, “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” was the supposed beginnings of magicians getting overdue parody on the big screen.
It turns out that the latter backfired, which seems surprising with Steve Carell and Jim Carrey in the mix. Now moviegoers may have to deal with cinematic magicians on a much more serious level. And the only way forward there is to adapt them as being much more incredible than they are in real life.
Part of that comes in the competitive nature of magicians that “Burt Wonderstone” played up in parody. Although it also may answer to moviegoers wanting to see illusions that can’t be explained other than the result of something mystical. Nobody can say the ending of “The Prestige” (or “The Illusionist”) didn’t satisfy intellects while also straining credulity in some of the trickery that was done.
What made “Burt Wonderstone” so different is that it used real illusions supervised and created by David Copperfield. Yet, with so many magic secrets made criminally public in recent years, it’s possible some moviegoers could figure out the basic concepts. “Now You See Me” is promising something much more complex in the realms of supposed magic techniques, or maybe just straight human deceit.
Most likely, the above film will have to leave it partially up in the air exactly how a bank heist by a group of magicians was accomplished during a performance. That seems to be the recurring secret to what the “The Prestige” and “The Illusionist” did best: Reveal just enough, but not all so the audience can connect the dots. “The Illusionist”, however, portrayed one real magic technique (Pepper’s Ghost) that was enhanced by CGI rather than shown how it would really look in a show.
Any movie portraying magicians will have to put that future disclaimer out there: All the techniques may be enhanced to give the look of superiority. Whether magicians should be made to look more powerful in movies than they’re capable of being is up for arts debate. The only place where reality and cinema could connect is in the mentalist arena where mental magic has much more and potentially damaging power than apparatuses or slight of hand.
Regardless, it means bigger business for real magicians. If any ever pull off a bank heist, expect it to be merely as publicity stunt to promote the bank.