Now You See Me & Pacific Rim – born of the same beast

I was going to just post a straight-up review/ thoughts about these two summer offerings and bump up my Blog post numbers. But then I got to thinking about what I had experienced as a viewer and decided to share those instead. One is an ensemble piece, containing Academy Award winners/ nominees and hot properties while the other is a out-and-out demonstration of how far we have come in the world of CGI. That is not to say Now You See Me doesn’t contain effects shots either. I’m sure the effects count is pretty high in creating the world our protagonists exist in. They’re just employed to enhance the narrative construct, whereas those used in Pacific Rim enable the narrative to be told. A quick surf will garner those counts – Montreal based effects studio Rodeo FX delivered a total of 350 visual effects for Now You See Me; ILM (they need no introduction) pitched in with a mere 1600 effects shots for Pacific Rim. I would posit that the former stat comes as a bit of a surprise, while the latter does not.

Now You See Me image

Effect example from Now You See Me

Pacific Rim image

Live action/ CGI composite from Pacific Rim

We are in the throes of a summer ram-jammed with big-budget releases, some of which I have written about. These two particular films are highly enjoyable, albeit somewhat thin on substance – the stable remit for a summer release these days. The director of Now You See Me, Louis Leterrier, has ascended the Hollywood food chain with similar fayre, coming to prominence a mere eight years ago with his second feature, Transporter 2 (you can’t beat a bit of The Stath!). He followed those with The Incredible Hulk (which I enjoyed) and Clash of the Titans (which I very much didn’t!). His visual style is somewhat arresting; fast cuts and dynamic camera work. The Execs clearly like him as they have entrusted Leterrier with an estimated total budget of $350m for his last three movies (figure courtesy of www.BoxOfficeMojo.com).  Guillermo del Toro, helmer of Pacific Rim on the other hand, has a more cultish rise to prominence, first buzzing the radar with Cronos some twenty years ago. Flirting with Hollywood, firstly with Mimic, then Blade II, Hellboy & Hellboy II, he also does not forget his roots, interspersing these films with a couple in his native language – El espinazo del diablo (The Devil’s Backbone) and El laberinto del fauno (Pan’s Labyrinth). The fanboy following garnered from these offerings cannot have gone unnoticed by the studios, as an estimated budget of $190m for Pacific Rim is nothing to be sniffed at; and it’s reasonable to suggest that most of that budget is on the screen.

So, two entirely different movies, but both have their DNA firmly entrenched within La-La Land. These are the Hollywood machine in full flow. Tent-pole releases with enough marketing money thrown at them to produce any number of low-to-mid budget fair. Let’s be honest. We love it and they know it! Whizzy trailers, enticing tag lines, a package all dressed up with a pretty bow waiting to be accepted with glee!

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