Thursday, September 21, 2017

Movie Review: "The Prestige" (2006)

Director: Christopher Nolan
Year: 2006
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

A pair of rival magicians with a tragic past engage in a dangerous game of one-upmanship doing what they can to destroy the other's career. 

Are you watching closely??

"The Prestige" is directed by Christopher Nolan, who also wrote the screenplay along with his brother Jonathan. It is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Priest. It stars Christian Bale as Alfred Borden and Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier, two magicians who have a past with one another. The years have turned them into bitter rivals, and they are willing to go to whatever lengths possible to outdo one another. They are willing to sacrifice anything, including their relationships, their money, and their lives, in order to get the upper hand. Joining the two male leads are Rebecca Hall as Alfred's wife Sarah, Scarlett Johansson as Alfred's assistant Olivia Wenscombe, and Michael Caine as Cutter, the mastermind behind Angier's magic tricks.

This film offers a unique take on the murder mystery genre by combining a period drama about a professional rivalry with a crime mystery. There's also a little bit of sci-fi thrown in for good measure. The story here is extremely compelling, every twist and turn remarkably shot, written, and acted. We remain completely engaged by it as we try to figure out exactly what happened, who was responsible for certain events, and who truly had the upper hand at each and every moment. It's one of those films where you find yourself hoping you forget the ending and how it all unfolds so you can experience it, again and again, each time you watch it as if it were the first time.

The narrative is delivered in a non-linear fashion, a trick Christopher Nolan has used in several of his films, to aid in the mystery. The art direction is fantastic and the costumes are utterly gorgeous as they capture early 20th century England and help the feel of the picture as a whole. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are fabulous in this film. The characters they play are, in many ways, polar opposites, yet they both share an obsession with each other. Bale's Borden is the skilled and more talented magician with an unwavering dedication that has arisen from humble beginnings. Jackman's Angier, on the other hand, isn't the best magician technically speaking, but he is a brilliant showman who was raised wealthy with the English title of Lord, a fact he tends to hide. Angier is only interested in the fame that comes with being a performer, and his sole purpose is ruining Borden. We see their obsession and just how deep their destructive madness goes, expertly penned by the Nolan brothers.

When we watched "The Prestige" for the first time, we were floored by the ending. Now, with each additional watch, we see the clues and how the surprise ending was foreshadowed all along. The answer hangs in the face of the audience the entire time and we just didn't see it, which is certainly part of the magic of this film. From excellent set pieces and costumes to tremendous acting from Jackman, Bale, Johansson, Caine, and Hall, and expert cinematography and direction, don't miss this wonderful movie.

My Rating: 9/10
BigJ's Rating: 9/10
IMDB's Rating: 8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 76%
Do we recommend this movie: ABSOLUTELY YES!!!

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