Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|The Prestige |
Actors: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Russ Fega, Ricky Jay, James Lancaster
Genres: Action & Adventure, Drama, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense
Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson are pure magic in THE PRESTIGE on Blu-ray DiscŪ. Dubbed "wildly entertaining" by Rolling Stone, this riveting tale is more astounding than ever in this daz... more »
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Obsession, Revenge and Magic--A Near Perfect Film Fumbles In
K. Harris | Las Vegas, NV | 12/31/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Like many other reviewers, I came into Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" with high expectations. He, thus far, has a pretty good track record in my book. "Batman Begins" ranks highly among adult comic book movies, but prior to that--he scored big with the sublime "Memento" and the underappreciated "Insomnia" (where, miraculously, he coaxed restrained performances from both Al Pacino and Robin Williams). So teaming Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman in a dark and twisty tale of obsession and revenge seemed like movie nirvana. And "The Prestige," while not a perfect film, certainly provides its leads with robust roles and delivers much to admire.
Set in the world of magic, two practitioners (Bale and Jackman) start out together in an act devised by Michael Caine. When a tragedy strikes, Jackman loses his wife and holds Bale accountable. Though they go their separate ways, they never mentally disconnect. Jackman plots revenge, Bale retaliates and their lives become a complex game of one-upmanship--as each strives to be the better illusionist, to boast the better trick. The film is a sleek and nasty mechanism as rage and jealousy propel the action. While this has left some people feeling cold--there is no one to particularly root for--I found it refreshingly mean spirited and believable. Jackman and Bale both give great, passionate performances. Whether or not you like the movie, I think it would be hard not to see that these are two undervalued performers getting a chance to do some "big" acting. Caine is terrific, as always, and Scarlett Johansson is perfect as a woman caught between the feuding warriors.
As you might expect from a Nolan film, there are some surprises--some tricks to be revealed in the film's prestige. Now I have an eye for movie "surprises," I guess I'm too suspicious or analytical. I figured out one of the primary surprises early on--but that didn't lessen my interest in the film, I was just as curious to see how it played out. The film is built in a multilayered flashback structure that is interesting and rewarding. It adds to the dramatic revelations of the final act. But there is a science fiction element that is dropped in at the last moment. And while I know that the film is actually based on a sci-fi work, this was the least compelling aspect of the film. In fact, it might have ruined a lesser movie altogether. After so much real emotion, such a fantastic setup, so much believability--this plot twist quickly brings what was a great film back to earth as a good one.
"The Prestige" is a satisfying and adult treat. It boasts some of the best performances of the year, and is beautiful and fascinating to look at. It's quality filmmaking, one that is recommended despite the shortcomings of the final payoff. KGHarris, 12/06."
Christopher Nolan continues to impress with one of the best
A. Sandoc | San Pablo, California United States | 10/23/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"2006 has been a quiet year for event films. The predicted blockbusters this past summer pretty much underperformed despite some being exactly as good as I thought they'd be. Other than Johnny Depp and the gang's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, every blockbuster didn't blow the industry out of the water. It's a very good thing that I had smaller films to tide me over. This year has been a very good ones for some independent-minded and smaller films which came out during the slow first couple months of the year and during the graveyard release months between the end of summer and the start of the late year holidays. I've already had the chance to see such very good films like Running Scared from Wayne Kramer and Hard Candy from David Slade to The Proposition from John Hillcoat. I am glad to say that Christopher Nolan's film adaptation of Christopher Priest's novel, The Prestige is another non-blockbuster that excites, entertains and, in the end, keeps the audience mystified but not confused.
I've read Christopher Priest's novel about dueling late 19th-century London magicians. It's a novel written in epistolary format with each chapter and section written as entries into the journal of one of the main characters in the story. The novel itself is pretty straightforward as it tells the story in near chronological order. I was hesistant to embrace this film adaptation when I first heard about it since alot of the mystery of of the story wouldn't translate so well in film if they followed the strict order of how the story was told in the novel. For Christopher Nolan and his brother, Jonathan, to just adapt the novel straight-out would've made for a dull and boring mystery-thriller. I was glad that the Nolan brothers were inventive enough to borrow abit from Christopher Nolan's first feature film, Memento. Their film adaptation of The Prestige doesn't go backwards in its narrative, but it does mixes up the chronological order of the story somewhat, but not to the point that Tarantino does in Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. The two Nolans fudges abit with the timeline to add some backstory filler to help give the characters that Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman portrays with the reason for their pathological obsession with each other.
Christopher and Jonathan Nolan's screenplay for The Prestige was able to keep the mystery of the story intact, but it also keeps the amount of red herrings in such films to a minimum. Michael Caine's character, Harry Cutter, opens up the film explaining just exactly what constitutes a magic trick on stage. How it's divided into three parts. First, there's "The Pledge" wherein the magician shows the audience something ordinary he or she will use in the trick. Soon, the magician will follow this up with "The Turn" where the abovementioned ordinary object does something extraordinary in front of the audience. The pay-off of the magician's trick is "The Prestige" where the audience's astonishment occurs as they fail to deconstruct and figure out the means of the trick. That's pretty much the film in a nutshell. It's one big magic trick. The clues are there for the audience to see, gather and extrapolate their answer to the mystery that is the story. The screenplay doesn't treat the audience as if they need to be hand-held throughout the film. In fact, anyone who pays attention will be able to solve one-half of the mystery by the first hour. I won't say exactly whose half of the mystery it will be but people will be kicking themselves afterwards if they don't figure it out right away.
This magic trick of a film does have its many underlying layers of themes to add some complexity, drama and tension to the characters of Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman). I've already mentioned that throughout the film their mutual obsession about each other is due to a backstory detailing their past. A past where they were initially friends --- rivals even --- and apprentices to the magician Harry Cutter (excellently played by Michael Caine as the only voice of reason throughout the film). Borden and Angier's obsession is not just in ruining and sabotaging each other's magic tricks and lives, but also trying to find out each other's secrets as they both learn magic tricks which amaze and thrill the gentry of London's stage. From the beginning of the film these two characters begin a journey towards a path of destructive behavior which puts not just each other's lives at risk, but those who they care about. All of it in the name of humiliating and upstaging the other due to a tragic incident early in their mutual careers. These two individuals were not sympathetic characters and I applaud Christopher Nolan and his brother for not softening up their hard edges.
Most adaptors will try to make a story's characters more sympathetic and likable. They went the opposite in The Prestige. But even these two dark characters continue to exude the charisma and strong personalities that the audience will root for one or the other. Should they root for the charismatic and born shownman that Hugh Jackman's Angier character plays or go for the perfectionist Borden character Christian Bale plays. A perfectionist whose technical skills surpasses that of Angier's but whose introverted and brooding personality makes him little or no stage presence.
Both Jackman and Bale play their characters well. The film wouldn't be so good if it wasn't for the work of these two actors. It helps that they're surrounded by quality supporting character like Michael Caine as the seasoned, veteran mentor to the dueling magicians. Even Scarlett Johansson does very well with the part she's given. It's a part that many sees as more of a throwaway character. A piece of very good-looking distraction for both the story and the audience. But she gamely plays the role of pawn for both Angier and Borden. Unlike Michael Caine's character who remains the singular voice of sanity in the film, even Johansson's character of Olivia gets pulled into the obsessions and betrayals that's plagued both Angier and Borden. But in the end, she's just part of the process of "The Turn" and if people have been watching the film closely right from the beginning then she's also a clue as to the secret of one of the amazing magic tricks shown by the two magicians.
The Prestige also has a distinct look about it. The 19th-century London just before the start of the new millenium gives it a certain sense of Victorian-era familiarity. Production designer Nathan Crowley shows a London at the height of its Gilded Age, but soon gives way to a certain steampunk look as inventor Nikola Tesla makes an appearance during an integral part of the story. David Bowie portrays Tesla as an eccentric genius whose search for the secrets of the universe will lead to the discovery of what many of that era would consider magic. It's the ingenius looking technology created for the Tesla sequence which finally gives The Prestige it's root in fantasy and science-fiction. The film doesn't dwell on this new development but from that part of the story and until the end, the film takes on a look and feel of a steampunk mystery-thriller. There's not enough films that tries to mine this new subgenre and I, for one, am glad that Christopher Nolan added this new dimension to the film's overall look.
In the end, The Prestige really needs to be seen to be appreciated and for people to make up their minds about the film. Some will see it as a thriller with twists and turns that doesn't insult the intelligence of its audience. Some may see the film as just one large gimmick from start to end. Those people will probably be correct as well. The film at its most basic level is one long magic trick with all three acts. It has "The Pledge" which is then followed up by "The Turn" and then ends with "The Prestige". It will be up to each individual who sees the film to make the final decision as to whether they've bought into all three acts of the magic trick that is The Prestige, or come away having felt like they've wasted their time. I've not come across many who felt like the latter, even those whose own feelings about the film don't reach the same level of praise as I have for Christopher Nolan's latest offering. All I know is that this is a film that delivers on its premise to confound and amaze. It also continues to validate my views that Bruce Wayne and Batman are in very good hands with Christopher Nolan at the wheel. The Prestige is easily one of the best film of 2006."
One of the Best Films that Got Overlooked
mljkb | I ain't tellin you, QE CAN | 01/08/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Proof positive that director Christopher Nolan, Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are among the finest, richest talents in Hollywood, "The Prestige" is a wickedly clever and riveting tale of all consuming obsession. Don't be fooled by the magic angle. This is a classic tale that simply uses rival magicians and the tricks of their trade to illustrate what all-too driven individuals are willing to unleash on one another in the name of one-upsmanship and superiority. Bale and Jackman are terrific as the pair of rival magic men who try to destroy each other, their destructive animosity etched on their faces. And its a showcase for the considerable talents of Christopher Nolan, who (along with his screenwriter kin Johnathon Nolan) executes one the most impressively acrobatic balancing acts in cinematic storytelling with the ease of a born illusionist. Set in turn of the century England, magicians Alfred Borden (Bale) and Robert Angier (Jackman) toil to ascend to the upper echelons of the London entertainment circuit, under the tutelage of Cutter (the always superb Michael Caine), an experienced magician's aide. Borden's and Angier's relationship turns poisionous after a tragic accident during a routine show, and both attempt to sabotage to other's attempt to rebuild their stiymied careers until Borden unveils a mind-boggling trick called the "Transported Man," and Angier is driven nearly insane trying to discover Borden's methods that may (or may not) involve revolutionary new electrical technology developed by Nikola Tesla (a suprisingly restrained and haunting David Bowie). The Nolan brothers take this story and send through the gauntlet, using flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks keep their audience just a little off guard and totally unprepared for the final twists that come furiously flying in the film's film's minutes while never losing sight of the slowly deteriorating psyches of their characters. In other words, they tell their story just as any good magician would perform his trick. But stick with them. The film, although sometimes a grueling task to follow, steadily coalesces and amply rewards the careful observer. Besides, Wally Pfister's cinematography, which finds the right balance of elegance and grittiness, and Lee Smith's rhythmic editing practically draw the audience in. If "The Prestige" somehow passed you by in theaters, do not let it slip by now. Watch closely at the on the best films waiting to be discovered."
My Favorite Film of 2006
Monkdude | Hampton, Virginia | 12/29/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have seen about 50 or more movies this year and I have to say I enjoyed The Prestige the most. It won't win any awards like The Departed, but it sure will entertain you. Christian Bale is an amazing actor as always, but Hugh Jackman really surprised me here, as well as, David Bowie himself. There are so many twists and turns I am sure you will be watching this one more than once. While I liked The Illusionist, The Prestige is the magic film of 2006!"