Film Review: The Prestige

4 Dec

Plot: It all begins in rapidly changing, turn-of-the-century London. At a time when magicians are idols and celebrities of the highest order, two young magicians set out to carve their own paths to fame. The flashy, sophisticated Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) is a consummate entertainer, while the rough-edged purist Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is a creative genius who lacks the panache to showcase his magical ideas. They start out as admiring friends and partners. But when their biggest trick goes terribly awry, they become enemies for life–each intent on outdoing and upending the other. Trick by trick, show by show, their ferocious competition builds until it knows no bounds, even utilizing the fantastical new powers of electricity and the scientific brilliance of radical inventor Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) –while the lives of everyone around them hang in the balance.

This film has been in the cinemas for a good 3 weeks before I got the chance to see it. As you know, I had been so enamoured by Daniel Craig in the last few weeks, I was close to missing its run so I made sure to catch it tonight before it bows out of my local Cineworld in West India Quay.

As the film opens Michael Caine tells you to watch closely and boy, did I try, and hard. He then goes on and talks about the three stages of a magic trick; 1) the Pledge, 2) the Turn and of course, 3) the Prestige. My friend Richard (Brunton) over at the Filmstalker says this in his review, “often when you guess the twist before the reveal you find yourself disappointed and the film loses pace and impact”. How true is that with every twist that you can just about easily spot? Now, having seen so many films that had twists, or misdirection and although I totally saw most of them coming in this one, the sheer beauty of it was that instead of applauding my keen eye and losing that sense of anticipation, I still found each revelation quite engaging. I was still getting excited by it all.

As this was a competition between two magicians, I had to choose who to root for and I instinctively went with Angier, wonderfully played by Hugh Jackman. I guess my heart went out to him in the beginning. I also felt Jackman did truly well in his role, that point when you see him so obsessed with it all I found really convincing. I cant wait to see him now in Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain. What about Christian Bale as Alfred Borden? How can he get any better this guy? I’ve watched him metamorphose into the actor he is now since Newsies to Little Women, to Reign of Fire, to Equilibrium, to Batman Begins. I thought he also did well having the more interesting character to play with.

Director Christopher Nolan has done it again as I came out of the cinema quite satisfied, but not without so many burning questions still going through my head. I very much want to see it again, it’s a shame I kept putting this film off, thank goodness for DVDs!

The Prestige: 4/5

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14 Responses to “Film Review: The Prestige”

  1. pedro73 December 10, 2006 at 2:53 pm #

    This is exactly the kind of movie I want to see. As soon as itΒ΄s released here, I will go and watch it at light speed. London never was as mighty as that precise time.

  2. shang December 10, 2006 at 4:17 pm #

    i saw this last month… or was it 2 months ago, i can’t remember. batman and wolverine… and NIKOLAS TESLA! too much! yeowza!

  3. ISO100 December 11, 2006 at 2:21 am #

    I never got around to seeing this when it was released here. The trailer made it look incredible, although I would have gone just to see Bowie either way. I’ll definitely have to pick this up once the DVD hits the shelves.

    On a somewhat related note: There’s a statue of Tesla about 15 minutes from where I live (it’s in Niagara Falls, NY). I thought about making a suitably sized carboard mask from a picture of David Bowie to put on that statue just for a photo op. Crossing the border is more trouble than it’s worth these days though…

  4. Simone December 11, 2006 at 11:34 am #

    Peter: I cant wait to discuss this film with you too! πŸ˜‰ I’m considering getting the novel too.

    shang: I am guessing you saw this with mom? Is she still gaga over Bale? ;D

    ISO100: Yes, I recommend that you see it! I might also get the DVD and pass it around to friends who missed seeing it. Havent seen you posting much in Filmstalker lately, there’s a new feature, check it out! πŸ˜‰

    Ah, Tesla. Bowie did well playing him in this film.

  5. _ram-jaane' December 11, 2006 at 2:58 pm #

    well you finally saw it huh’ πŸ™‚
    glad you enjoyed it!

  6. Simone December 11, 2006 at 5:29 pm #

    I saw it on a rainy Monday evening during its last week run at Cineworld in West India Quay.

  7. _ram-jaane' December 12, 2006 at 11:05 am #

    ah, nice one even got India in the title .. i’m impressed

  8. Simone December 16, 2006 at 8:14 pm #

    Yeah, its my local cinema too Ram.

  9. Richard December 25, 2006 at 6:28 pm #

    Well, I saw it in Dublin, when I was over there a few weeks ago. It’s a good film. It’s interesting how different audiences react to a film. It was unerringly silent throughout the screening, which I appreciated-that would never happen in England. There’s always someone talking, somewhere in a hushed voice…

  10. Simone December 26, 2006 at 8:33 pm #

    Why didnt you tell me you saw this the last time we saw each other, I could of asked you a few things! πŸ˜€

    Anyway, I’ve never had a problem in cinemas in London at least not in my local cinema, I go to Cineworld in West India Quay and I never had to shush anybody. Yet! πŸ˜›

  11. Greyz March 15, 2007 at 5:47 pm #

    You really felt really sorry for Christian Bale’s character in this film. How can one so famous play a non-charismatic entertainer? He’s wonderful.

  12. Simone March 15, 2007 at 8:59 pm #

    Hi Greyz thanks for dropping by. πŸ™‚

    But I dont follow you, what do you mean when you said you felt sorry for his character, and how can so famous play a non-charismatic entertainer, please explain.

  13. Greyz March 16, 2007 at 2:44 pm #

    Christian Bale’s character was a sad one. He’s a good illusionist, but he can’t sell his talent – no charisma at all. His passion for his work cost him his family’s life. He portrayed this sad unappealing character so well for a person who, in real life, is very famous. (If that makes any sense).

  14. Simone March 16, 2007 at 3:03 pm #

    But didnt he sell his talent well more than Angiers (Hugh Jackman) did? It was Borden’s (Christian Bale) set of tricks that later on proved very appealing, no wonder Angiers was trying to outdo and copy him every time and fails. The lengths that Angiers had to go through only finding out in the end that Borden always had the upper hand, showed that it was Jackman’s character really that lost out mainly because of his ambitions, and I thought was more sad, and not Bale. I guess if you’re looking at it from another angle with regards to Bale’s thirst for fame and fortune (and again, ambition) that sacrifices had to be made to achieve it, then perhaps yes, but because he did it with malicious intent, he just got what he deserved in the end.

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