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Now You See Me

Mike Ching
Owner, Mike Ching Magic

Mike Ching

What is your official title/occupation? I run Mike Ching Magic, an entertainment company. We do everything from convention shows and theater EFX consulting, and have designed magic for Frank De Lima, TV commercials and the Miss Hawaii pageant. We’re known for our original magic routines and elaborate holiday Santa appearances.

Where and with whom did you see the movie? I had to catch an afternoon show at Pearlridge Consolidated on my own.

Overall, what did you think? It’s a pretty fair action movie, though It wasn’t one of my favorite magic films. A “heist” movie with magician characters, an attractive cast and promising concept, but a really fuzzy script with lots of logic issues.

I liked the cast, but we never got to know them much. I wish their stage characters were better “fleshed out.” They acted so serious and didn’t seem to be enjoying what they did. You sometimes have to be a little vulnerable to allow the audience to experience magic through you. The producers and writers never figured out what was supposed to make them cool. They came off somewhat disdainful of each other and not like a team at all. It would have been great to have a scene where they’re cornered, having to use all of their skills to escape.

Many of the major magic effects are CGI work, and that’s fine. Past age 10, though, people can pretty much tell the difference between skill and computer work. Audiences can sense effort, and when you can chalk it up to CGI, you may not feel as impressed.

Finally, a late reveal of a key characters’ actual identity is pretty difficult to accept. There were groans from the viewers around me.

What was one of your favorite scenes? The opening scene was pretty effective where Jesse Eisenberg does hard-core card shuffles for an audience on the street. (This is a new magic style known as XCM, or “extreme card manipulation.”) He’s actually being hand-doubled by a magician, but the editing is good, and it gets real “wows” from the theater audience.

On a scale of one to four stars, what would you rate this film? ★★

What did you think of the cinematography? It was mostly a street-palette of black, gray and sepia. I can’t say I’m a fan of limited palettes; I like variety, but it worked in the context of the film. I didn’t care, though, for the fight and chase scenes, which were often blurry and shot “shaky-cam style.” You want detail, and it’s a little frustrating to watch.

Was the message/theme clear? There’s the issue. It takes most of the film to “get” who the heroes and villains are, what they want, and even if you agree with them. For most people, this is not a clear “right-or-wrong” film. You might even wonder if the right guy(s) get caught.

To whom would you recommend this movie? Audiences ages 15 to 30 who want to pass the time with an energetic story, and lots of stunts and visuals.

Did any of the actors stand out? Morgan Freeman is a heavyweight. Always charismatic and watchable, even though his role didn’t have a lot of screen time.

What’s your favorite movie snack? Pepperoni pizza, but we usually go on the spur of the moment and get there just when it starts.

On a different note, what’s new with you? Currently I’m teaching magic classes, working on new material for our show and developing a ventriloquist act with Hawaii characters. Believe it or not, our holiday offshoot, Honolulu Santas, is already booking St. Nicholas for the Christmas season.

For my club, the IBM (International Brotherhood of Magicians), we’re helping coordinate magicians for a Hawaii Alzheimers Association benefit called Music and Magic July 6 at Dave & Busters.

For anyone looking to contact me, I’m on Facebook, and our website is mikechingmagic.com.