Thursday, August 26, 2010

Pose Reviews A Movie. #35: The Prestige (2006)

I remember that when The Prestige came out in theatres, it was released in one of those infamous "Hollywood Pairs" that everyone despises.

You know what I mean.

It happened with Dante's Peak and Volcano. It happened with Armageddon and Deep Impact. And it happened with The Prestige and The Illusionist.

Inevitably, when "Hollywood Pairs" occur, no one sees both. (Unless you're weird. Or you have a LOT of interest in the subject matter.)

Back in 2006, I opted to see The Illusionist because Edward Norton is awesome and I can't stand Hugh Jackman.

The Illusionist was nothing if not mediocre, so understandably my enthusiasm for magician movies was somewhat diminished. Luckily, however, my enthusiasm for Christopher Nolan recently overtook it.

The Prestige is a tale of two competing magicians, Robert Angier and Alfred Borden (played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale respectively, neither of whom can really pull off the English accent required for the roles) in early 20th century London.

At first, the men work side by side as partners under the leadership of an illusion engineer by the name of Cutter (adeptly played by Michael Caine).

However, when Angier's wife, the act's lovely assistant is tragically killed as a result of one of the illusions, he blames Borden for her death, and sparks a rivalry that increases more and more intensely as the film progresses.

At first, the men merely try to sabotage each other's stage performances, but when Borden finally perfects "The Transported Man," a trick that Angier cannot figure out, the conflict turns to one-upmanship, and each magician goes to extraordinary lengths to outdo the other and expose his secrets.

The Prestige is a really solid film, and it comes with all the fun twists and turns that you'd expect from Christopher Nolan. Of course, Nolan can't be credited with the story, since The Prestige is an adaptation of Christopher Priest's novel of the same name, but he brings it to the screen with the same mysterious flair present in films like Following and Memento.

The Prestige
also brings David Bowie out of a brief cinematic retirement, giving him his first on-screen role since playing himself in 2001's Zoolander. Bowie does a great job of playing Nicola Tesla, the suave, brilliant but altogether mad scientist, and practically steals the show at the halfway mark.

Overall, I enjoyed The Prestige for what it is: a well-crafted period piece that is suspenseful, mysterious and surprising, not to mention unique (if it weren't for that pesky Illusionist!) I'd certainly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good story, complete with a legitimately cool twist that won't make you roll your eyes.

...and if you'd rather just stare at Scarlett Johansson, I suppose it's good for that too.

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