Danielle brings a little magic into our lives this week with the 2013 movie Now You See Me. When a group of random magicians (sorry, illusionists) are recruited to partake in some fancy heists, Sam could not be more excited because, c’mon, magic heists! The all-star cast agrees to hit the targets designated by their mysterious benefactor—in the first instance, a French bank—as they perform the robberies while live on stage. Sam’s excitement quickly disappears like a rabbit into a hat as they proceed to just give the money away to the audience, and Danielle is unable to give a better explanation as to why these random performers would give away their heist money other than “For the love of magic?” Now pursued by the FBI and, even worse, Morgan Freeman the magician spoiler, the heists, and magic tricks, get progressively less believable, especially mentalist Woody Harrelson who legit can just mind control people like Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luckily, the movie never slows down long enough to let you consider the ridiculousness of it all, throwing pure insanity at the audience like Dave Franco using magic-fu to fight FBI agents and a card trick that involves sticking a card in a sapling and then waiting 20 years for the tree to grow around it. Right from the start Sam demonstrates a knowledge of magic and and magicians that was as much a surprise to himself as it was to Danielle, but even he can’t fathom how that tree thing is a good trick, even from an entertainment point of view. There’s nothing up our sleeves as we attempt to make logic appear out of thin air for this move, so pick a card and enjoy the magic!
On this episode Sam brings Danielle the 2002 box office bomb Reign of Fire. In the distant future year of 2020 dragons have been awoken from their cicada-like hibernation and have ravaged the earth, reducing humanity to a few pockets of life. Quinn (Christian Bale) leads one such colony in Northumberland, though food is scarce and there’s dissension in the ranks. None of that really matters as soon enough militia leader Denton Van Zan (Matthew McConaughey) shows up to rope Quinn into his quest to wipe out the source of the dragons: The single male dragon living in London. At this point, Sam cannot understand the biology of a species that only has one male capable of breeding, and how these same dragons were apparently responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs. Danielle, meanwhile, is more upset about the fact that the starving survivors let a perfectly good dragon carcass go to waste instead of just eating it. There’s also some tension between Quinn and his adopted son Jared about his joining Van Zan’s soldiers, but it’s over so quick Sam’s still not sure it wasn’t just a hallucination brought on by all the dragon special effects and dark lighting. Either way, the heroes square off against the dragon king in a battle that’s kinda lame, but does have a shirtless Matthew McConaughey wielding a battleaxe in one of the best scenes ever put to film, so it’s totally worth it.
This week Sam introduces Danielle to the classic 1985 post-apocalyptic film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The Mad Max franchise is well known for telling the gritty story of the collapse of society, a nuclear apocalypse, and one man who attempts to survive alone in the new world. Beyond Thunderdome takes that serious story and makes it delightfully goofy in every way. After having his camel-drawn cart stolen, the titular Max ends up in Bartertown, the most advanced city in the Australian wasteland. He quickly becomes embroiled in a political assassination plot that is wildly over-complicated as the queen of Bartertown, played fabulously by Tina Turner, wishes to have the bodyguard of the mechanical genius behind the city’s success killed. None of that is really important as it’s just an excuse to get Max into Thunderdome with the formidable Blaster for a fight scene that is as delightful as it is bizarre. After some contrived shenanigans and the application of laws that are notable mostly in their ability to be chanted by a mob, Max is exiled to the wasteland but is rescued both by a magic monkey and a tribe of teenagers and children that have formed a cult religion about a savior pilot after being abandoned in an oasis. The crazy only escalates from there as Max and the kids are forced into a conflict with Tina Turner and the Bartertown Bunch mostly as an excuse to have a climactic train/car chase through the desert. That all sounds ridiculous, and it is, but the costumes are amazing, the is action way over the top, and the plot is nonsensical, so really, what more could we possibly ask for?
Danielle brings Sam into the wonderfully strange world of James Bond with the 2002 movie Die Another Day. Although this isn’t Sam’s first James Bond film, it’s definitely one of the weirder he’s ever heard about. When your spy movie starts with James Bond and his team clandestinely surfing into North Korea only to have a helicopter they already control meet them there so Bond can replace and impersonate the diamond/arms dealer inside, you know you’re in for a wild ride. James Bond, with his usual lack of subtlety, proceeds to be captured and held for over a year by the DPRK before being released in a prisoner exchange. Bond quickly does what he does best and takes an unsanctioned trip to Cuba in search of the mole in MI6 that had betrayed him, but mostly ends up just having sex with a criminally underused Halle Berry. There’s some stuff about a de-aging clinic that turns you into the doppelgänger of whomever’s bone-marrow you get, but the movie doesn’t seem that interested in the details because it’s time for a crazy rich guy with a totally-not-evil-seriously-guys-it’s-just-for-peaceful-reasons-I-can’t-think-of-right-now space laser! There are so many crazy villain plots in this that Danielle struggles to finish her retelling in less time than it would take just to watch the actual movie. So come on and join the most famous of secret agents for some delightfully nonsensical action fun. Also, there’s a lot of setup about scorpions in the movie, but that never pays off, sorry.