Directed by Christopher Nolan.
Written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan. Based on
the novel by Christopher Priest.
Starring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson and
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 10/29/06
Hey, it's my man Chris Nolan--the man that
gave us "Memento",
my favorite film of 2000--so I had to check out the magician flick
"The Prestige", even though this is the second freakin' magician
flick I've seen this year. Thankfully, "The Prestige" is MUCH
better than "The
Illusionist", especially if you like your story with some bite
to go along with the bark, not just a sappy, predictable love story.
Set in London some time long ago, "The
Prestige" opens with the drowning of master showman The Great Danton,
aka Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman, playing what sounds like an
American accent this go-round)...this drowning apparently comes at
the hands of his chief magician rival, The Professor, aka Alfred
Borden (Christian Bale, Nolan's lead in
who is immediately thrown into prison and given the death penalty.
Over the course of a number of flashbacks, we get into the meat of
why these two men are rivals, what tricks they come up with to
establish themselves as the greatest magicians in England and what
leads them to the point where they begin stealing ideas from each
other, leading to Angier's unfortunate demise.
The theme throughout "The Prestige" is "be
sure to watch closely", and generally, it's a fun film to watch as
we see the two men design tricks, entertain audiences, conduct
personal lives and their very personal rivalry and ultimately try to
develop the one trick that could make them world-famous. The
script by Nolan and his brother Jonathan (based on a novel) is, in
the words of my friend Ross, "solid...it's just a good movie, you
know?" You get that feeling throughout "The Prestige"--it's
just quality, through and through, giving us some romance, some
sleight-of-hand (frequent magic man collaborator and actor Ricky Jay
also makes an appearance here), some science magic, some mystery and
plot twists. None of these set the world on fire on their own,
but together, especially with a cast this good (Jackman gets better
with every film; one can see why he's so well-regarded as a stage
performer, not just as the brawn behind Wolverine in those "X-Men"
films) and a proven talent behind the camera, the movie is great in
almost every way...
...except for the ending. I won't
reveal how things wrap up here but suffice it to say, I was unhappy
with how "The Prestige" concludes. There are certain parts
about the ending that make sense, especially after we discover
things about the machine that Angier has developed for him, thanks
to electricity genius Nikola Tesla (a real-life scientist, played
here by David Bowie). But, the film's real ending was so
ridiculous I actually was looking to talk to somebody in the lobby
after the film to see if they agreed with me. Seriously, if
you've seen this film, feel free to call me so you can hear me
bitching about the last few frames of the movie...ugh.
This alone dropped this out of Opening
Weekend territory for me, but still, "The Prestige" is a great film.
When will Chris Nolan do wrong? Hopefully, never.
Rating: $9.50 Show
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard