For the latest entry in our ongoing weekly film series, where we typically recommend movies to watch “if you liked” a particular new release, we decided to prepare you for the upcoming release of Now You See Me 2 by highlighting some of our favorite movies that have to do with magic (think deception/magic tricks, not sorcery) and/or magicians.
Now You See Me 2 is set three years after the first film’s events. After outwitting the FBI and winning the public with their Robin Hood-style magic tricks, the illusionists known as The Four Horsemen resurface for a comeback performance in hopes of exposing the unethical practices of a tech magnate. The man behind their vanishing act is Walter Mabry, a tech prodigy who threatens the Horsemen into pulling off their most impossible heist yet.
With Now You See Me 2 hitting theaters on June 10, you have the rest of the week to check out some of the best films in the genre. Here are some of our favorites:
Death Defying Acts (2007)
Upon arriving in Edinburgh, Scotland for a series of mind-boggling performances, master illusionist Harry Houdini offers an impressive cash reward to any supposed psychic who can accurately tell him his late mother’s exact last words. Gorgeous swindler Mary McGarvie rises to the challenge and engages Houdini in a dangerous flirtation that will blur the line between reality and paranoia — and test the very limits of his skepticism.
Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay (2012)
Deceptive Practice traces world-renowned magician, author, historian and actor Ricky Jay’s achievements and influences, from his apprenticeship at age 4 with his grandfather, to such now-forgotten legends as Al Flosso, Slydini, Cardini and his primary mentors, Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller.
The Escape Artist (1982)
After the death of heralded escape artist Harry Masters, his grieving son Danny moves in with distant relatives. A talented magician in his own right, Danny aspires to break out from his father’s legacy but finds trouble in the form of the delinquent son of the town’s unscrupulous mayor. The intrigue builds to a peak when Danny dares the local police force to incarcerate him, swearing he’ll manage an escape that will rival those of his father.
The Geisha Boy (1958)
A bumbling magician stumbles from one chaotic situation to the next when he joins a USO tour in the Far East.
The Great Buck Howard (2008)
Defying his father and dropping out of law school, aspiring writer Troy Gable looks for a way to gain some meaningful life experience. Troy gets that and more when he takes a job with Buck Howard, a vainglorious mentalist who hopes to reinvigorate his fading career by staging a big comeback.
The Great Magician (2011)
In Beijing in the early 1920’s, the nation’s most talented performers have gathered to show off their most spectacular skills. The challenge is set – a handsome prize to whomever can reproduce a magic trick called the Eight Immortals’ Treat.
Fourteen years after a paralyzing spinal-cord injury, quadriplegic magician and radio jockey Ethan Mascarenhas decides to file an appeal to the court for euthanasia (mercy killing) with the help of his best friend and lawyer.
An Honest Liar (2014)
World-renowned magician and escape artist James “the Amazing” Randi dedicates his life to exposing fake psychics and others who claim paranormal powers.
While working as a Coney Island entertainer, Harry Houdini meets and falls madly in love with Bess. The two quickly marry, and with her at his side, the magician begins his rise to fame as the world’s greatest escape artist and magician. But as the escapes get more and more dangerous, Bess worries that Harry may be taking his act too far.
The Illusionist (2006)
A master magician named Eisenheim vies with Crown Prince Leopold of Vienna for the hand of noblewoman Sophie, the girl he once loved. He brings his considerable powers to bear on the prince, as she is about to be named royal fiancee. However, a police inspector named Uhl tries to warn Eisenheim that he is playing a very dangerous game.
The Illusionist (2010)
Magic tricks can’t compete with rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s, so a French illusionist finds himself touring Scotland’s shabby pubs and run-down restaurants. But things brighten for him when he meets Alice, a girl who believes his powers are real. Together they travel to Edinburgh for a performance, but he doesn’t have the heart to reveal that his feats are merely tricks, and risks financial ruin by giving her gifts supplied by his “magic.”
The Mad Magician (1954)
A failed magician turns into a homicidal maniac, taking out his victims by using the same tricks he learned while conjuring illusions.
Corky, a failed magician, adopts a new ventriloquist act with an abrasive dummy named Fats, and suddenly finds himself lined up for a television show. When the unbalanced Corky fears he won’t pass the required mental exam, he runs away with Fats to his hometown, where he meets an old love from high school, Peggy. Corky persuades Peggy to leave her loveless marriage — but Fats, who seems to be taking on a mind of his own, doesn’t approve of the relationship.
The Magician (1958)
Dr. Vogler is a hypnotist, a magician and the leader of “Vogler’s Magnetic Health Theater,” a traveling performance troupe known for their apparently supernatural abilities. When Vogler’s show arrives in Stockholm, the skeptical townspeople form a committee determined to disprove the supposedly magical abilities of the troupe. The locals, headed by a cruel medical official, fail to rationally explain Vogler’s feats — and events take a disturbing turn.
A Pixar computer-animated short, Presto was shown in theaters before their feature-length film WALL-E. The short is about a magician trying to perform a show with his uncooperative rabbit and is a gag-filled homage to classic cartoons such as Tom and Jerry and Looney Tunes.
The Prestige (2006)
An illusion gone horribly wrong pits two 19th-century magicians, Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier, against each other in a bitter battle for supremacy. Terrible consequences loom when the pair escalate their feud, each seeking not just to outwit — but to destroy — the other man.
Oz the Great and Powerful (2013)
When shady circus magician Oscar Diggs is hurled away from Kansas into the wonderful land of Oz, he thinks that fame and fortune are his for the taking. However, three witches remain unconvinced that Oscar is the great wizard that the inhabitants of Oz need and expect. Reluctantly drawn into Oz’s epic problems, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it’s too late.
Be sure to also check out 10 Movies to Get You Through The Holiday Season and 20 Slasher Films Every Highsnobiety Reader Should Know.