What is it about magic shows and magicians that captivate us so much? Perhaps it’s the sense of wonder and bewilderment we get from looking at supposed magic and thinking it might be real. Or maybe it’s the fact that we as people love a good mystery and a good puzzle to solve, and magic shows indulge in those fantasies. After all, a good magician never reveals his secrets, does he, and isn’t it fun to speculate how he does it?
Either way, magicians and their magic shows have entertained us for generations. Whether in person or on screen, we love a good magic trick that will leave us in awe. So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages, may I bring to your attention some of the best magician movies to ever grace our screens. (Please note that for the purposes of this article, magicians refer to magic shows and illusionists, not fantasy magicians or wizards like those found in Harry Potter Where the Lord of the Rings).
Harry Houdini is perhaps the most famous magician, famous for his daring acts of escape. The world was shocked when he died aged 52 and succumbed to overwhelming sepsis. Even nearly 100 years after his death, his name still conjures up images of amazing escapes from near impossible situations. To this day, many fans and magicians continue to speculate as to the explanation for many of his incredible deeds. In 1953, Paramount Pictures released Houdini, a fictionalized account of his life and death starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. Although many elements were changed to create more suspense for the film, Houdini is always a fun, entertaining and whimsical ride.
seven an honest liar
Are magicians and illusionists liars? What about psychics, healers and scammers? Is it the job of these people to make us believe that the impossible is possible and therefore… to tell us lies? The 2014 biographical documentary, an honest liar, looks at these professionals through the lens of retired stage magician and escape artist, James Randi. After spending years on stage as a magician, Randi worked as a skeptical scientific investigator and was known for his work exposing what he believed to be con artists. Yet Randi also had secrets, leading viewers to wonder if he really was the deceived one or was actually the deceiver.
6 Sleight of hand
In Sleight of hand, teenager Bo Wolfe (Jacob Latimore) is a street magician by day and a drug dealer by night. Since his parents died, he will do anything to protect and care for his little sister, Tina (Storm Reid), including selling drugs to earn a steady income. When it comes to magic, Bo’s specialty is sleight of hand (hence the film’s title) and his ability to control anything metallic, using an electromagnet he embedded in his arm and developed for a high school science project. However, when things turn south dealing drugs, he will have to use his skills and wits to rescue his little sister and escape the city.
5 The Illusionist (2010 animated)
Is magic real? Alice thinks it’s when she meets a French illusionist (Jean-Claude Donda) who can’t compete with the rock ‘n’ roll vibe of the 1950s and makes a living doing magic shows in seedy pubs. and ramshackle restaurants, trying its best to keep the magic alive. The two form a friendship and the illusionist doesn’t have the heart to tell his new friend that his magic tricks aren’t real. Instead, he spends his salary on gifts for Alice, risking financial ruin. the illusionist was a critical success, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, but remains a hidden gem today, a sweet story of friendship with a melancholy edge that will linger well beyond the credits.
4 In & Of Itself by Derek DelGaudio
From Hulu comes the one-man show documentary that is pure magic: In & Of Itself by Derek DelGaudio. This solo documentary explores DelGaudio’s incredible tricks and stories to create a truly unforgettable experience. DelGaudio gets philosophical through his magic and stories, trying to answer life’s most basic yet complicated questions — Who am I? Is identity just an illusion or is it rooted in something deeper? What defines a person? Find out in Hulu’s award-winning documentary, which also has a perfect Rotten Tomato Score on the Tomatometer and an audience rating of 89%.
3 The Illusionist (2006 Live Action)
The 2006 live-action movie The Illusionist looks nothing like the 2010 animated movie the illusionist who was previously on this list. Instead, this film follows hypnotic illusionist Eisenheim (Edward Norton) who wows crowds with his performances centered around necromancy, the practice of raising the dead. Yet his shows aren’t just for entertainment purposes, as he has an ulterior motive that draws audiences into a dark mystery. Complete with gorgeous sets and costumes, a stellar cast, and a twisting plot, the illusionist is a historical mystery drama that will keep you guessing until the very end, because nothing is quite what it seems.
2 Now you see me and now you see me 2
Now you see me follows a mysterious organization known simply as the “Eye”. In “The Eye”, a team of four new illusionists who call themselves the “Four Horsemen” use their skills to bring order to the world by hacking into the bank accounts of the wealthy and corrupt population and donating that money to members of the public attending their performances. However, their schemes did not go unnoticed and soon caught the attention of federal agents. Now you see me (2013) was a box office hit that got a sequel in 2016. Director Jon M. Chu wanted to name the sequel Now you don’t to pay homage to the famous saying, but the marketing department told him no because they didn’t like the word “don’t” in the title. We haven’t seen the last of the “Four Horsemen”, as a third film is in the works.
Unlike the other films on this list, there are some subtle magical and fantastical elements in this latest entry, Prestige. Rival magicians Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) will do anything to sabotage each other’s magic shows. This is because a devastated Angier blames Borden for his wife’s death and now former friends have become enemies. This tale of magic, love and betrayal follows the feud between these two rivals and the tremendous lengths they will go to destroy each other. This mystery thriller has a star-studded cast (including a great David Bowie as Nikola Tesla) and twists that will keep you on your toes until the credits roll.