Not since John Travolta kicked the tires on Battlefield Earth and pronounced it good to go has there been a big-name sci-fi flameout quite as disastrous as Will Smith's After Earth, writes Kurt Loder. The movie is dull and talky and fundamentally misconceived. The whole point of putting Will Smith in a picture is to light it up with his warmth and witty line readings. Here he plays a grim-lipped buzz-killer who never cracks a smile. And while the presence of director M. Night Shyamalan might once have promised saving grace, this film is just another sad token of the man's decade-long artistic decline.
Louis Leterrier's Now You See Me, on the other hand, has an appealing comic spirit, and it's a considerable amount of fun, in parts. It concerns four talented but low-level illusionist-hustlers: one card master (Jesse Eisenberg), one mentalist (Woody Harrelson), one daring escape artist (Isla Fisher), and an artful pickpocket (Dave Franco). One day they receive a mysterious summons to become part of The Eye, whatever that may be. They have no idea who's behind this outfit, but they agree to join, and soon they're headlining Las Vegas with a group act that ranges from disappearing rabbits to water tanks full of deadly piranhas.