Weekend Movies: Bad reviews for “Now You See Me,””Warcraft,” thumbs up for “Conjuring”

warSummer sequel season is long since in full swing. This weekend’s crop is quite representative — one solid sequel that might please the faithful, one limp one to a movie nobody thought merited a sequel in the first place.

Jesse Eisenberg could have gotten a franchise out of “Zombieland.” Because no one was interested in “The Further Adventures of Mark Zuckerberg.” But the lame “magic” caper dramedy “Now You See Me” is the one that laid the egg. Middling reviews, but it made bank. So back come Jesse, Woody Harrelson, Dave Franco, Morgan Freeman, Mark Ruffalo and Michael Caine — no Isla Fisher this time. Lily Caplan has “the girl role.” Daniel Radcliffe is on board, for villainous measure. Poor reviews, as to be expected, from “Now You See Me 2.” Not even clever enough to make the title “Now You See Me Too.”

Hollywood’s unblemished record in adapting video games earns no “exception that proves the rule” with “Warcraft.” Getting a story out of a game is always tough. And they didn’t do that here. 

Travis Fimmel is much better in “Maggie’s Plan,” Dominic Cooper needed the work, as did Paula Patton and Ben Foster. A blip on their resumes, and a paycheck.

“The Conjuring 2” is that almost-unheard of horror sequel that’s earning reviews almost as rapturous — OK, I oversold that — as the original. Those widely discredited spook hunters Lorraine and  Ed Warren, the “Amityville Frauds,” are back (Vera Farmiga, Patrick Wilson), this time in London. Because nobody in America takes them seriously any more?

Director James Wan is the closest thing horror has to a modern Hitchcock — reliable, stylish frights, time and again.

“Maggie’s Plan” is Rebecca Miller’s version of a Woody Allen rom-com — smart, witty, top-drawer cast. Going into wider release today. See it. 

“Conjuring 2” may have the edge at the box office, being a sequel to a  horror hit. Horror, however, has a definite ceiling. I don’t think Box Office Mojo is on the money, here. $36 million? We’ll see.

Box Office Guru is more in line with my thinking on this. “Warcraft” has the brand name edge — $24 million should win the weekend. “Now You See Me” should clear $20. “Conjuring?” Around $20-24 seems about right. 

Either way, those “Ninja Turtles” are done at the top of the box office mountain. Top four is their fondest hope.

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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