Monday, August 18, 2014

Magic in the Moonlight Review

Sometimes all I need to see to be excited about a movie is the words "starring Emma Stone." I really didn't know much of anything else besides that when I went into Magic in the Moonlight outside the fact that it was another Woody Allen movie and was getting poor reviews to go along with it's underachieving box office numbers. I don't even think I saw a trailer for the movie. But I didn't really care. It was Emma Stone in a lead role. That girl is absolutely amazing in like every way. And she's only 2 1/2 months my senior, so there's even that connection. Being perfectly honest, my history with loving Emma Stone dates back to The Amazing Spider-Man as her portrayal of Gwen Stacy was so good that I have officially dubbed her as the best superhero girlfriend ever. After seeing that movie, I made sure to familiarize myself with her other work and yes. She's the best. But unfortunately, Magic in the Moonlight taught me that not even Emma Stone can save a movie with poor writing and poor direction.

I will have to say that overall I'm super impressed with the body of work that Woody Allen has given us. The man has an endless bank of ideas as he has been consistently making movies since the late 60's. In fact, not a year has gone by since 1982 where we haven't had a Woody Allen movie released. That's impressive. Outside Alfred Hitchcock, how many directors can say they've accomplished such a feat? But that alone doesn't make him great. His movies for the most part have been well liked as he's been nominated for 24 Oscars, winning four of them. And that's not even counting all the Oscar nominations his movies have produced. That's only his personal nominations for his directing, writing and acting. Because of all this, he definitely has to be considered one of the best directors in movie history.

With that shout-out out of the way, every good director has occasional slip-up and when you make as many movies as Woody Allen has, that number will naturally be fairly high. This is just one of those Woody Allen movies that just doesn't work. I feel like he had a good idea with this one, but once he got past the beginning he realized that he really had nowhere to go with the idea. Yet he decided to move forward anyways because he has a movie quota he needed/wanted to fill. Because really, this movie doesn't have a lot of substance to it. It starts out in an excellent way, but then it starts to get boring and after about halfway through it begins to travel in odd directions.

So what comes to mind when you hear the title Magic in the Moonlight? To me this sounded like a love story. However, the movie opened with a magic show. That threw me off a bit because I realized that the title was literal. This was a movie about magic. Or a magician rather. After we watch the opening act, we realize that this is a magician with a lot of anger issues. The fact that he is such a good magician in this case has led him to a life of self-centeredness and pessimism. He doesn't believe in a God. He doesn't believe in any sort of magic or psychic abilities. Anything that seems even close to being supernatural has to be fake and he prides himself in uncovering things like this. One of the things he loves doing is going around and proving all the psychics to be a fraud. This is the premise of our movie. Emma Stone plays a young psychic that becomes this magician's next victim and he is floored because he can't figure her out. Suddenly he starts to question everything that he has believed and it starts to make him happy.

Like I said, I liked the premise of this. Colin Firth plays the magician and he does great at being this grumpy magician. And for a while I thought this was going to be like last year's Blue Jasmine where Cate Blanchett won the Oscar for Best Actress for her performance as this crazy lady the whole movie. I was excited about that. Colin Firth was great at being the angry, smart aleck magician and Emma Stone was equally as good as being the weird psychic. Together their back and forth banter was excellent and enjoyable to watch. But then once he started to become stumped is where the movie lost itself. Just like I said, it was as if Woody Allen didn't really know where to go with this movie after the excellent start so it began to drift and I also began to drift a bit. Then after drifting for a while, the movie turned into what I thought it was going to be when I walked in. A love story. And that's where everything crashed in my opinion.

Emma Stone and Colin Firth had a great platonic relationship and that type of chemistry was excellent. But they had zero romantic chemistry. And yes, most of that was due to the fact that Colin Firth is 28 years older than Emma Stone. Everything between them felt very awkward. Sure, things like this have worked before. Earlier this year Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt had a romantic relationship in Edge of Tomorrow and there's a 20 year gap there. But the difference is Tom Cruise looked the same age as Emily Blunt, so it worked. In this, Colin Firth definitely looks 28 years older and not only is that in the father to daughter age range, but if you take five years away from Emma Stone and add it onto Colin Firth, you'd be in the grandfather to granddaughter age range. The thing is, Emma Stone looks young. She made a believable high school student in The Amazing Spider-Man. And as far as Colin Firth goes, lets just say that I definitely believe that it was 20 years ago when he played Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice. So nothing about this relationship was cute or romantic. It was just weird and creepy. And when the whole second half of the movie relied on this, it just didn't work for me at all.

So overall, Magic in the Moonlight started off really well. Colin Firth and Emma Stone totally knocked it out of the park, so the failures in this movie had nothing to do with their acting abilities at all. I even liked the old feel to the movie. It was set in the 1920's, I believe, and the style of the film as far as the opening and closing credits as well as the music, costume and scenery I thought was great. But unfortunately this is just a movie where Woody Allen slipped up. The problems in this movie had everything to do with the writing and that would fall 100 percent onto his platter. I still have a lot of respect for the man and I hope he forgets about this venture and does a good job with his project for next year, which also stars Emma Stone. She gets to team up with the very talented Joaquin Phoenix, so whatever it is, I'm excited for it. But Magic in the Moonlight gets a 6/10 from me. 

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