Friday, November 03, 2006
Without revealing any secrets, the basic plot is simple enough. Due to a tragic act, two friendly magicians-in-training become bitter enemies over the years, each trying to outperform the other causing nothing but further tragedy.
Oh how I wanted to love this film and oh, what a disappointment. Christopher Nolan has worked magic in the past with "Memento" and "Batman Returns". This time, with magic as the literal subject matter, his tricks fail to impress. The "pledge" of the trailer sets up a promising "turn" but the final act or as it's known to magicians, the "Prestige" rests on two faulty elements. One is obvious very early in the film and the other is completely ridiculous.
What does work here is the very capable performance of Christian Bale. This man is incapable of a bad performance. From his very first performance in "Empire of The Sun" (very underrated Spielberg), Bale has delivered over and over again with every film. Hugh Jackman plays the rival magician with his usual dashing aplomb. Michael Caine plays his "Alfred" role from "Batman Returns" and once again, Scarlett Johansson lends herself as eye candy in an otherwise minor role as the assistant with vacillating loyalty. There is a worthwhile cameo by David Bowie, who makes a wonderful entrance.
There have been some comparisons between this film and "The Illusionist". While both are period films about magicians, the stories are really quite different and frankly, "The Illusionist" pulls the rabbit out of the proverbial hat. "The Prestige" is left just holding the hat.