Distributed By: Warner Brothers Pictures
Reviewed by Justine Manzano
With my aforementioned love of Hugh Jackman, you would thing that going to see The Prestige would have been on my ‘Must See, No Brainer’ list, but it wasn’t. I had exactly the same problem as my fellow G-Popper, Jon Minners, had with the movie. It didn’t seem like our type of film. Despite this fact, something about the preview enticed me. It could have been director Christopher Nolan, who did such a great job with Batman Begins that it definitely earned him a little blind faith. It could have been the brilliance of incredible actors like Jackman, Michael Kane, and Christian Bale. After looking at the facts, I realized that I couldn’t avoid it. I went to see this odd, seemingly genre-less movie—I took the plunge.
Based on the 1995 novel by Christopher Priest, The Prestige follows two developing magicians in the height of the magician days—London at the turn of the century. One, Rupert Angier (Jackman, X-Men, Someone Like You), is a combination of flash and some substance, but he is not as good as his compeitor and co-hort, Alfred Borden (Bale, Batman Begins), who happens to be lacking in the style department. The two are friendly but extremely competitive. Working as audience plants in another magician’s act, they tie the knots that go around the wrists and ankles of the magician’s assistant—Angier’s wife (Piper Perabo, Coyote Ugly)—as they attempt a daredevil water tank escape trick. However, an accident leads to her death, and Angier immediately blames Borden. As they both prepare to launch their careers as magicians, they become locked in a greuling battle for magical supremacy, constantly working to undo and one-up the others most famous magic trick. The rivalry drags everyone they know into it kicking and screaming, including their mentor Cutter (Michael Caine), and Angier’s new assistant Olivia Wescombe (Scarlett Johansson). As the battle escalates, the tricks get dirtier until they’re no longer fighting for vengeance anymore—they’re fighting for their lives.
The secret behind this one is too damn good to ruin, so I’ll stop here. As far as critiquing this movie, it’s a cinch—Jackman and Bale are amazing. They are so good at playing out the true maliciousness behind a rivalry like this one, that by the end we are no longer sure who we should consider the villain. That is also the beauty of this story. It truly does leave you guessing up to its last moment, and there is a lot to discuss when you leave the theater. The direction is impeccable, despite complaints I’ve heard as to the distorted timeline of the movie. To me, if you are paying attention, you shouldn’t get too confused. Just be prepared that this is not a linear film.
While this film didn’t seem like my type of movie, it certainly did turn out to be just that. Any fan of mystery, suspense, intrigue and intelligence are bound to love this frighteningly offbeat film. Although nothing I like every does, I am sincerely hoping that this is nominated for an Oscar. It certainly does its job earning one.
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