Reel-View Ratings: The Bigger The Beard, The Better The Movie



The original Now You See Me was a fun, if flawed, romp through an endless stream of dazzling magic and conspiracy. Rehashing the formula here is, well, somewhat less successful, as sequels oft are. The Four Horsemen are back (sans Isla Fisher, replaced with Lizzy Caplan this go-round) and roped into stealing some sort of tech for Harry Potter himself (Daniel Radcliffe, having a great time). The tricks are over the top (though magic doesn’t quite translate well to the big screen, again) but the plot is muddled, confused and involves (literally!) an evil twin. Consider it more a series of fantastical events — the pleasure is as ephemeral as a card trick. Opens June 10 in wide release



Horror films are a hit-or-miss lot, and horror film sequels face an even steeper challenge — but director James Wan has risen to the occasion with The Conjuring 2, a sequel that actually manages to be scary without being redundant. Exorcists Ed and Lorraine Warren (Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga) are recruited to investigate a specter haunting an English family, and, of course, things escalate rapidly out of control, with deadly results. The film does have its sequel-induced missteps (not surprising given the novelty of its predecessor), but its freshness can be credited to its stars, who infuse their heroes with a warm core of humanity and faith even amidst the darkest of scares. Opens June 10 in wide release



Based off the true story of Arab Idol winner Mohammad Assaf — a Gaza resident who entered the contest and won it all against the odds — this perky film isn’t quite sure what it wants to be. It’s not a biopic (though it is) or a documentary (though it wants to be that, too, by the end). It wants to acknowledge the pain of living in Gaza, of living within the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, while also remaining an underdog triumph tale. Its hero has a life story so perfectly made-for-Hollywood that its narrative beats ironically ring false, helped little by poor pacing. And yet it remains charming because Assaf’s story is too good to be buried by all this — if a war couldn’t taint him, a mediocre movie certainly won’t, either. Opens June 10 at Kahala Theatre