The closer you look, the more you see on Ultra HD Blu-ray
A likeable cast, a convoluted plot and capable direction combine to deliver an exciting heist caper that involves four stage magicians called The Horseman.Now You See Me revolves around a group of magicians who call themselves The Four Horseman. They have assembled at the behest of an anonymous stranger and each brings their own skill set – illusion, escapology, mentalism and sleight of hand. They stage a series of elaborate shows that are actually heists designed to right wrongs and eventually extract revenge. The film stars Jessie Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Ilsa Fisher and Dave Franco as the Horseman and Mark Ruffalo as the FBI agent who is tasked with hunting them down. There is capable support from Morgan Freeman as a magic debunker out to expose the Horsemen and Michael Caine as the millionaire who funds them.
The film was directed by Louis Leterrier, whose constantly moving camera helps maintain the breathless pace. The film combines stage magic and illusion with a series of elaborate set pieces, although sometimes the technology borders on pure science fiction. The film's narrative structure actually uses the trick of misdirection but the ultimate end-game isn't a complete surprise, if only because there's a finite number of people that could be behind everything. However Ruffalo is always good, Eisenberg plays the cocky magician well and Harrelson is entertaining. It's a fun two hours that actually does deserve a second viewing, just to see if the pieces fit together.
Picture QualityNow You See Me was actually shot on 35mm but it was finished using a 2K Digital Intermediate (DI), which presumably formed the basis for this Ultra HD Blu-ray release. The film was upscaled to 3840 x 2160p and is presented in its correct 2.40:1 aspect ratio, the disc uses 10-bit video depth, a Wider Colour Gamut (WCG) and High Dynamic Range (HDR), and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec. We reviewed the region free US Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Now You See Me on a Samsung UE65KS9500 Ultra HD 4K TV with a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player, although the film has yet to be released on the format in the UK.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray boasts excellent levels of clarity, including skin pores, fabric textures and fine details on buildings,. However since it was upscaled from the original 2K DI, in direct comparisons with the regular Blu-ray the difference in terms of actual detail is minimal, with most shots appearing almost identical in close-up. That doesn't mean the image looks the same, far from it, but it does mean that any differences are the result of factors other than resolution.
The new HDR version delivers detail, definition and a lovely film-like image
The use of 10-bit video and a wider colour gamut certainly results in an image that has slightly more saturated colours and better gradations in those colours, whilst the black levels and particularly the shadow detail appeared superior. The use of HDR not only allows for more detail in the shadows but also delivers specular highlights such as the sun glinting off the metallic trim of cars and there is greater definition in brighter elements such as clouds, stage lights and windows.
It's this addition of greater dynamic range that really makes the difference and when switching between the same scene on the Blu-ray and the Ultra HD Blu-ray, the latter just looks more defined and has greater impact. Since Now You See Me was shot on 35mm there is a healthy amount of natural grain in the image, which the HDR grading can sometimes exaggerate slightly but overall this is a lovely film-like image that is sure to please.
Sound QualityNow You See Me was originally released theatrically with Dolby Digital and Datasat 5.1-channel mixes and it's these that form the basis of the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1-channel soundtrack found on the Theatrical and Extended Cuts of the regular Blu-ray. However for the Theatrical Cut on the Ultra HD Blu-ray, Lionsgate appear to have commissioned a new Dolby Atmos immersive audio mix, which we reviewed using a Denon AVR-X7200WA and a full 7.2.4 setup with overhead speakers.
The Dolby Atmos mix adds overhead effects but is less immersive than some tracks we've heard
The original 7.1-channel mix was already excellent with plenty of effects steering and bass moments to compliment the flashy visuals. This new Dolby Atmos mix takes that already strong foundation and adds a degree of height to the sound design, using the overhead speakers to either add greater atmosphere to scenes or to emphasise certain tricks. A good example of the use of the height speakers to add greater realism is a scene that takes place under elevated train tracks, where you can clearly hear the trains rumbling overhead. The crowds at the Four Horseman shows have a greater sense of immersion and tiering, whilst Dave Franco's card-throwing results in sounds whipping all around the sound field with a lovely sense of precision.
The score is spread across the front soundstage, whilst the dialogue is rendered cleanly and clearly, remaining centred within the overall mix. The use of low frequency effects is highly effective, giving the stage illusions greater impact – the scene where the 'teleport device' suddenly snaps shut is a great example. The Dolby Atmos mix isn't the most aggressive example that we've heard but it often uses the greater freedom afforded the sound designers in more subtle and effective ways than simply drawing attention to the overhead channels. The object-based nature of Dolby Atmos certainly allows for more precise steering of surround effects and given the constantly moving camera this really helps to enhance the overall viewing experience.
ExtrasThe US Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Now You See Me comes in a black Amaray case with two discs, the Ultra HD Blu-ray and the Full HD Blu-ray. The Ultra HD Blu-ray doesn't use regional coding, however the Blu-ray is locked to Region A. The Blu-ray includes both the Theatrical Cut and the Extended Cut, whilst the Ultra HD Blu-ray is just the Theatrical Cut. The package also includes a digital HD copy of the film, although you probably won't be able to redeem the code in this country.
All the extras are in HD and included on the regular Blu-ray:
Audio Commentary – This commentary track is with producer Bobby Cohen and director Louis Leterrier both of whom discuss the making of the film, although Cohen seems to do more of the talking. Still it's an informative and largely entertaining track, with plenty of interesting behind the scenes anecdotes.
Now You See Me Revealed (11:52) – This is a standard behind the scenes promotional featurette that includes interviews with the cast and crew.
A Brief History of Magic (11:52) – This featurette is hosted by magician David Kwong, who also acted as a consultant on the film, and it looks at each of the Four Horsemen, giving us a bit of history on the real-life magicians who used the same techniques.
Deleted Scenes (31:57) – There are a total of 13 deleted scenes, some of which were either included or re-worked for the Extended Version but most of which were obviously cut for being too expositional or revealing a character's intentions too early.
Teaser Trailer (01:51)
Theatrical Trailer (02:26)
Ultra HD Blu-ray VerdictNow You See Me is a fun rollercoaster of a movie, with a plot that is constructed like a magic trick, using misdirection before revealing its ultimate twist. The cast are likeable, the direction effective and the plot, whilst always silly, will keep you entertained until the very end. If we had one complaint, it's that the film lacks enough real magic tricks and illusion, relying too heavily on what can best be described as sci-fi technology. However the film remains an enjoyable slice of hokum and on second viewing some, if not all, of the narrative actually holds up surprisingly well.
Ultra HD and Dolby Atmos makes this disc the superior choice
This new Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Now You See Me boasts a lovely picture that retains a film-like quality that reflects its original cinematography, whilst adding greater definition and impact thanks to the HDR grading. The combination of 10-bit video and a wider colour space means that even though the film used a 2K source, the Ultra HD Blu-ray is the superior viewing experience. The addition of a new Dolby Atmos soundtrack makes the UHD Blu-ray the superior audio experience as well, with an inventive and immersive soundtrack that compliments the flashy visuals. There's an Extended Cut of the film on the regular Blu-ray, along with a reasonable set of extras, makes this package worth picking up if you're a fan.
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