Magic in the Moonlight: A Light, but Delightful, Woody Allen Work (Blu-ray)


The Film:

You’ve got to hand it to the great Woody Allen. 79 years of age and he still manages to churn out a film a year as if he were still a young and eager filmmaker. Granted, the quality of his films of late has ranged from brilliant work like “Midnight in Paris” (for which he won a Best Original Screenplay Oscar) to somewhat forgettable works like “From Rome with Love,” “You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger,” and “Whatever Works,” but it’s always a pleasure to see the absolute charm that he imbues each and every film with.

His latest project, “Magic in the Moonlight,” deals with a magician, Stanley (Colin Firth), who boasts of being able to identify a fraud when he sees one. A close friend and fellow magician, Howard (Simon McBurney), informs him that there is a supposed clairvoyant, Sophie (Emma Stone), staying with a rich family, who has been thoroughly amazed with her ability to tell them things that she couldn’t possibly know. Stanley accompanies Howard to meet her and to see if he can spot how she’s doing her “trick,” but after spending a lot of time with her and not being able to pinpoint her method, he realizes that it just might not be a trick, causing his skepticism to melt away and become replaced with genuine feelings for the girl.

“Magic in the Moonlight” is what I would describe as a light Woody Allen film. It’s not the kind of film that’s going to stick around in your memory for a particularly long time due to a somewhat straightforward and predictable storyline, but you can’t help but be carried away by its charm and likability. Much of this is because of the great cast that Allen has assembled (another amazing talent he has) that includes Colin Firth, Emma Stone, Marcia Gay Harden, Jacki Weaver, and Eileen Atkins.

I call the storyline somewhat straightforward and predictable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get caught up in the mystery that it presents. We, like Stanley, figure that Sophie must be a fake, but if that’s so, then how does she know all of these intimate details of people’s lives? Could it be that she really does have a gift? It’s this side of the story that’s far more interesting than the romantic side, the side where you know exactly what’s going to happen from very early on, but luckily it’s the mystery that’s played up much more than the romance. Again, it’s not one of Allen’s most memorable outings, but it is sweet and entertaining, and for that it’s worth a look.

Video/Audio:

“Magic in the Moonlight” arrives on Blu-ray in a 2.39:1, 1080p High Definition transfer that could have used a little more work. Unfortunately, the picture is rather dark and fuzzy throughout most of the presentation, even in scenes that are filled with sunlight. It’s still watchable, but you’ll constantly be wishing that they had done a better job. On the other hand, the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio is fantastic, allowing you to hear dialogue and Allen’s trademark jazzy soundtrack selections in perfect clarity. Overall, while the video quality is questionable, at least you’re treated to a great audio track.

Special Features:

Behind the Magic: An interesting 10-minute featurette that features interviews with Colin Firth, Hamish Linklater, and Jacki Weaver, who discuss their thoughts on the film and what it was like to work with Allen and the cast.

On the Red Carpet: Los Angeles Film Premiere: A brief look at the red carpet premiere that features some of the actors giving brief interviews on the film. There isn’t really anything here that we don’t already get in the other featurette, so it’s not exactly required viewing.

Conclusion:

“Magic in the Moonlight” is an enchanting and entertaining film that boasts a great ensemble and a mystery that will keep you guessing until the end. It may not rank in the top tier of Woody Allen’s incredible filmography, but it provides just enough for a worthwhile experience that fans of his work will no doubt enjoy.

Score: 3.5/5

Available on Blu-ray and DVD starting Tuesday.

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