I accidentally caught this film but I'm so glad I did because Christopher Nolan's The Prestige is a clever and intensely enjoyable film that is atmospheric, stylish and will have you second guessing yourself until you won't know if you should believe what you are seeing in front of you.
I have to admit that I may be a little biased when it comes to Mr Nolan and his work but looking past that I can honestly say that The Prestige is a great film, it walks a delicate line between the Hollywood mainstream and indie sensibility pulling off a film that had me hooked with every twist. There is a reason that this isn't a 5/5 review though, while I believe it to be a great film and I would be pleased to watch again I can't help feel that at points it relied too much on a shocking twist to tell the story instead of the story telling itself and while large parts of it worked, there were parts that I felt didn't (without going in to details and spoiling it).
ALL IN ALL The Prestige is a well acted, well directed and well shot film that is a beautifully balanced piece that really depicts the theme of obsession, secrecy and sacrifice.
I had thought about watching this a little while ago but for some reason wasn't too tempted by it, despite having heard some positive reviews. I gave it a watch the other day and was glad I did because it was intelligently done and entertaining, and easier to sit through than I had perhaps thought.
The Prestige was directed by Christopher Nolan, who has written, directed & produced a few highly regarded films such as Inception, Batman and Momento, so he definitely knows his stuff. The premise is fairly straight forward: There are two magicians, but only one can perform the ultimate trick. This is a tale of two friends, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), both of whom are friends and assistants to a magician. We're introduced to Caine, a prop creator who is by their side throughout; Caine is like a leader and teacher to them and his 'tricks' are well respected, that is until something goes wrong. Jackman's dear wife, Julia McCullough, an assistant in a trick, drowns whilst unable to untie her restraints in a glass box stunt. Robert starts to hold Alfred responsible because he thinks he may have ignored Cutter's instructions and tied a different type of knott, just because he thought it was a better option. Obviously not if it ended it death.
To cut a long story short, the two friends are no more. They separate in to their own acts, both becoming famous magicians. Alfred is the showman and Jackman the skilled architect of tricks, but as their rivalry increases so does the anger and deception. Each is willing to do whatever it takes to outdo or sabotage the other. During this time, Alfred recruits a new assistant, Olivia Wenscome (Scarlett Johansson) and gets himself a wife, but his craziness has only just begun. Meanwhile, Jackman is cunning but bitter after what has happened to his wife, finally becoming obsessed with Alfred and his hidden secret. Eventually, one of them performs something extraordinary, and the other seems unable to stop hunting for his secret, regardless of the consequences.
The film was set towards the end of the 19th Century in London, which may have been part of the reason I wasn't entirely convinced about this flick beforehand. It was actually done very well, with scenes coming across as dark, mysterious and realistic; they weren't too shiny or Hollywood cliché, it was in keeping to the location and time period very well. The atmosphere was thus also built quite well because of this, with vivid scenes, darkness that built tension, a strong & believable cast for the most part, a complementary soundtrack and a decent plot that kept you hanging on.
The cast was strong with names including Christian Bale (Alfred Borden) and Hugh Jackman (Robert Angier) as the two protagonists, along with Michael Caine (Cutter), Rebecca Hall (Sarah Borden), Scarlett Johansson (Olivia Wenscombe), and even a feature of David Bowie, amongst others. I felt that they all played their roles well, at least for the most part, even though I wasn't overly keen on Bale all the time. I usually really enjoy watching him, so perhaps it was his character; either way, roles were played with a sense of believability so watching and empathising was easier.
I can't say much on the premise as I don't want to give anything away, but it was reasonably intelligent and creative to make it original and interesting. It wasn't something you could necessarily guess at so the air of suspicion and curiosity to find out what happens was kept well. This was also helped in part by the pace, which was mostly quite upbeat as I don't really remember thinking any scenes were too drawn out. I can't say I was overly impressed at times by the plot, but I guess you could say it was still simple yet effective, drawing in only a few extra characters to keep the focus more attuned.
All in all I would recommend giving this a watch, even if you don't necessarily think it'll be your cuppa tea. It was dark but creative and enjoyable, offering something a little different to the thriller genre.
DVD released 2007, rated Certificate 12
Selling on Amazon for £5.47
I watched this last night. It was recommended to me by my friend, and I was reluctant to watch it, since our tastes in films are sometimes quite different.
Based on the book by Christopher Priest, it follows the story of two rival magicians, Angier and Borden.
They are both apprentices who devote themselves to either learning each others acts, or developing an act the other cannot perform. They are both massively talented, harbouring secret jealousies over each others skills. Where Angier is a natural showman, and Borden can see a trick only once to know how it is done, they are each the ying to the others yang. But when Borden creates a trick that Angier cannot figure out, this spells the end of any kind of professional understanding between the pair. This rivalry soon becomes a cruel obsession, eventually splitting off, and begin a lifetime of upstaging one another, sabotaging each others acts.
The Prestige is dark and sometimes mildly shocking. Christopher Nolan keeps the mood of the film dark, and sometimes intense.
The film is a bit holey, and has some gaps in it, and is somewhat confusing as to who is friends with whom, and who is doing what and why. It is more clear in the book, but since it is based on, and not a direct adaptation, there is some margin of licence for the director.
The story is told in a non-linear manner, that is, not from start to finish, but rather hops about in a sometimes confusing way. There is a clear beginning, middle and an end, but they're not really told in that manner, so it sometimes leaves you feeling a little lost when trying to locate yourself in the progress of the story.
It's very gripping, with thanks to Hugh Jackman playing the perfect Rupert Angier. He provides a rich depth to Angier as a showman, and also as a bitter man gripped in the vicious throes of jealousy. Christian Bale is also perfectly cast, I feel. There is something about him which reminds me of a car mechanic. His obvious technical ability for magic is reflected in the same way that some men have a clear technical ability with cars. Magic is his illusion to practice and he knows how it works, whereas Angier is already a naturally flawless magician, he just doesn't 'get it'
What is supposed to be the big twist at the end, is actually lost. It's not exactly entirely clear if you're not really really paying attention, and I think it's a bit sad because Angier's big twist could have been done so much better. I'm not sure why it doesn't feel right, but it just doesn't. Borden's big twist is thankfully more forgiving.
The cast is nicely peppered with familiar faces of different eras, Michael Cane, David Bowie, Andy Serkiss, Scarlette Johannsen.
I do recommend this film, but I think it requires a dark room, and to be giving it an awful lot more attention than should be necessary. If all else fails, read the book. It's a masterpiece
Nolan's 'the prestige' is a masterpiece! Bale and Jackman combine to create a battle between characters that is nothing less than superb. The movie follows the life of two magicians who have an unruly past together. Through he use of great character emotions and the strong fatherly figure of Caine, the characters build up throughout the movie ready to throw themselves at the end of the movie and shock the audience with here results.
Not only does this film have a great cast it also has a great crew. The cinematographer of the piece has done an incredible job of making this dull and dark setting an incredibly vibrant and interesting place to be. Throught he use of setting the characters gain more importance and this is a viscous circle that Nolan does not let go.
Overall this is an incredible movie, full of thrills and spills galore, this is really one to watch!
Why is it that when one film comes out, you almost always get another released pretty much straight away that follows similar themes? I am thinking here of Armageddon/ Deep Impact or Dante's Peak/ Volcano as just two examples. Another example might be The Prestige/ The Illusionist though, quite tenuously, you could also add Mitchell And Webb's The Magicians to the mix if you so desired!
The Prestige is perhaps the most successful and also the most entertaining of these three films. Directed by Christopher Nolan, who has a very successful back-history of finely produced films, and starring the likes of Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansen, it is a tense affair from start to finish and is all about how one mans obsession with magic eventually leads to his own self-destruction!
Bale and Jackman are two hidden accomplices in a very successful stage show fronted by a leading Victorian Magician who share a constant rivalry. When Bale ties the wrong knot during an escapologist trick, Jackman's wife and stage assistant pays the price; drowning before their very eyes! Jackman blames Bale entirely and, swearing revenge, becomes determined to wreck his rivals life no matter what the cost.
Some time passes and Bale and Jackman start their own shows, becoming magicians in their own right. But their rivalry continues with each trying to ursurp and outdo the other. Jackman interferes whilst Bale is performing The Bullet Catch trick leading to Bale losing two of his fingers! Bale then retaliates by manipulating one of Jackman's tricks, leaving him crippled.....and all the time, both magicians seek the ultimate illusion that will thrill their audiences and thwart their rival competitor. This journey will take Jackman to the far reaches of America and a certain Professor Tesla (played to great acclaim by the great David Bowie) but it will also lead to him losing that which he holds most dear!
This is a great movie with plenty of twists, turns, tricks and torment as you might expect from Christopher Nolan. Though I half-guessed how the film might end, still I was thrilled with this from the very beginning and Caine is simply sublime as Jackman's friend and mentor and the only one who realises where Jackman's obsession is taking him.
Starting with Jackman's death and working backwards as Bale is held guilty of the crime, the film is simply superb and unlike anything else you might have seen even if you have watched the likes of Momento (an awesome, awesome film!) or The Machinist which, though not as clever as Momento, still managede to impress! I had thought that Jackman had not made a decent movie outside of The X-Men/ Wolverine movies but, having watched this for the first time the other night, I was wrong!
Put simply, if you have not watched this before, you are in for a real treat! This is movie suspense at its absolute best and simply cannot bbe matched for atmospheric Victorian tension!
The prestige is an epic, twisting drama staring Christian bale and Hugh Jackman as two competing illusionists in late 18th century London - but don't let obvious Americanisation put you off as if given the time this film can really draw you in.
The majority of the film is based around the two magician's obsession over each others illusions, and their attempts to damage/steal one anothers complex trickery in an effort to obliterate positive public perception. From the very beginning they are entered in a tight battle to win the overall prize of most intelligent performer.
Side characters such as Stage manager, Cutter (Michael Caine) are introduced as the plot proceeds, and they play a large role in manipulating the illusionists actions, whilst maintaining a distance from the main story-line.
It isn't until the first major plot jolt, when a murder enquiry is forseen, that the story is back-tracked, and an ingenius plot-line leads the magician's tale of bettering each others creations to that point.
Ultimately, the plot evolves to such a point that the illusionists intelligence in their performance mechanics shoots them well out of the 19th century, and beyond ours today.
<--Sets and Characters-->
From the very beginning you can tell this is a big-money holywood film. The sets give an instant impression of old London and the character profiling matches that appeal. I feel Bale, Jackman and Caine put in equally strong performances, but Bale's quiet, and perhaps hinted dark characterisation made him the star of the film.
Character backgrounds are also portraid well throughout, as are their emotions and feelings towards one another.
Overall, a fascinating drama which captivates the watcher and encourages them to think about what has happened long after the film has finished. Similarly, a film which can be watched more than once, whilst still maintaining an entertaining output in which things which you didn't notice at first can and will be noticed.
Runtime: 130 minutes
Cheapest price: £3.99 (AMAZON)
The Prestige is a fascinating tale of intrigue and suspense starring Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, two illusionists who become obsessed with bettering each other, and becoming slaves to their own rivalry and quest for greatness. It appeals to the audience's fascination with illusion, but addresses the age-old question of "do we really want to know how it's done?", drawing the eventual conclusion that we are happier when we can believe in the unbelievable.
This is a movie that you need to concentrate on, as it rapidly twists and jumps from time to time, but the plot keeps you engaged and interested, so it isn't really a chore. Michael Caine is excellent as the magicians' assistant/agent, and overall voice of reason.
This is a film which makes you want to have lived in these times for the opportunity to see such performers on stage giving us true magic, without the help of special effects and technology - people with real dedication to their art.
Like any good magic trick, the final twist at the end is revealed with flair and finesse - overall, an excellent film (plus, in my personal opinion, any movie starring David Bowie is automatically on to a winner!)
The Prestige is a fabulous drama/thriller, the backdrop of the turn of the 19th Century in London giving a debonair to some of the proceedings as we focus on the lives of two stage magicians, once friends but turned bitter rivals following a tragic accident. When Robert's (Hugh Jackman) loses his wife, he blames it on fellow magician Alfred (Christian Bale), and the two of them spend their time trying to better the other, whether this be through improving their own magic skills, or by sabotaging the other man's performance.
Bale and Jackman are brilliant as on screen rivals. Jackman has experienced more action films than anything else of late, and to see him in a dramatic role where there is a depth to the character is a nice change. Bale manages to do what he does with every role: completely emerge himself in the character, and really act him. You look into his eyes and you see the character, and not the actor.
Putting Michael Caine in there as well is a sort of release of sanity amidst all of the madness, as an ageing magician's assistant, the holder of many secrets and a kind of mentor to both in many ways. Throw into the equation the interesting and trust destroying performance of the sensual Scarlett Johansson as Olivia, sent by one to infiltrate the other's secrets and destroy him from within; and you have yourself a very riveting film that fails to let you go until the bitter end.
The filming is quite quirky. Director Christopher Nolan (now of course with two Batman films under his belt) gives a twisting flick back and forth through time. It never confuses you as long as you are paying attention, and there is always enough explanation provided to know when you are watching as well as who and where. We are sort of given the ending right from the start, so we kind of know what to expect in terms of plot endings. The only thing is, by the end of the film, I was astounded at the twists that presented themselves to me. I usually don't like films that give you the ending, but make no mistake, you won't know the half of it.
Nolan has that recognisable darkness about his films that brings your attention in. All too often, dark films become depressing and boring, but here, the darkness makes the atmosphere that much more tense, and with the brilliant acting of the two leads and the excellent support of Caine, this is riveting. I couldn't look away, and was astounded by it at the end. It came out not too far distant from The Illusionist, starring Edward Norton, and the two films are very similar in their twisting and turning plots that prevent you from really know what is going on. I would say The Prestige has the edge, though, as its darkness far outweighs the atmosphere The Illusionist can offer.
The special effects used with a lot of the magic are also quite impressive. We are treated not only to some recognisable tricks but also to some illusions and magic that are seemingly inexplicable. Occasionally, we get told the answer and how the relevant magician has performed the trick, but it's the one they can't quite manage - The Travelling Man - that is the ultimate goal for both of them. The FX at times threaten to take over in terms of being impressive, pushing the acting performances to one side, but then something amazing from Bale or Jackman will come along and we'll be reminded of just how good they can be.
The Prestige is a fantastic tale of magic. The acting is brilliant, Nolan's vision is precise and on the money, and the FX also deserve a bow. I thought this film was fantastic, and would happily watch it more than once. Recommended.
I regularly rent films from Blockbusters as part of their 5 films for £5 promotion to watch through the week. The Prestige was part of this deal and I popped it in my DVD player last week.
This is the story of two illusionists living at the end of the 19th century in London. Rupert (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred (Christian Bale) are performing when a horrible accident kills Rupert's wife Julia. Rupert swears revenge and they start inflicting each other with various injuries whilst pursuing separate careers. Caught between the two is Cutter (Michael Caine) who invents tricks and Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) who Rupert sends to spy on Alfred. The second half is dominated by Rupert's obsession with finding out how Alfred performs his best trick of all 'The Travelling Man'.
The film really highlights how friendly rivalry can turn dark and sinister. The lengths the characters go to outdo each other just get more and more ruthless and cruel. The setting blends well into the background and the costumes are believable for the era and status of the characters.
There is also an interesting relationship between Alfred and his wife Sarah (Rebecca Hall). Some times he loves her infinitely and other times he's trying it on with Olivia. Although Alfred is out for revenge, unlike Rupert he has responsibilities and little money so cannot put all his energies into getting back at his old friend.
Director Christopher Nolan has done a great job of building up the suspense throughout the movie. The film flows effortlessly from start to finish and I enjoyed not knowing what was happening until the characters did. Although the ending is shown at the beginning, it doesn't spoil the film it actually adds tension as you know what is going to happen but not how it will arrive.
I have only really seen Hugh Jackman as Wolverine so it was a nice change to see him in something more thoughtful and playing a character with more depth and emotion. He played Alfred well and I think he portrayed the feelings of his grief, guilt and obsession believably.
Christian Bale does a great job of portraying the showman and the man behind him. His character seems to have the best trick for a substantial part of the movie but then it all goes horribly wrong as he is put on trial for murder. I was impressed at how he dealt with the emotional and physical aspects of the character; it really felt like he belonged there.
Michael Caine does a good job in his supporting role; I enjoyed watching him trying to be the good guy. Scarlett Johansson does a decent job with what she is given but there are limits to playing the love interest. David Bowie makes an appearance as an eccentric inventor that Alfred calls upon to build a machine to do a spectacular trick.
The plot does jump between three or four different timelines but this doesn't particularly make it complicated to follow. I found the film flowed nicely and I wasn't left wondering where it was at any time.
I did find some of the twists a little unbelievable but overall this is an enjoyable film to watch. The film does build up the ending and gives the viewer some expected and unexpected twists. I was quite impressed with the ending as I never would have guessed it. Once I knew though it seemed obvious - as with most magic tricks.
I have given this film four stars because it was good but not brilliant. It is well worth watching and gives the viewer an interesting story but it isn't entirely convincing and there are some flaws. Mainly that it is only really a one time view film because after that you know the illusion and you know the outcome. Without being kept guessing the film would fall short.
The Prestige can currently be bought on Amazon for £3.98.
note: also appears in part on Flixster and The Student Room
Christopher Nolan is fastly rising as one of the greatest working directors - he has produced masterpiece after masterpiece, from Memento, to Batman Begins, to The Dark Knight, and even his lesser-considered The Prestige, a thrilling film with two great stars on top form, as well as a great supporting cast, and a nifty set of twists to boot. Whatever you think you know about this film before seeing it, those feelings will probably be turned upside down by the time the credits hit.
The film is based on Christopher Priest's 1995 World Fantasy Award-winning novel of the same name. It revolves around two magicians, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), who engage in a game of one-upsmanships, with each trying to pull off the better magic trick on the other. However, this ultimately gets out of hand, and after Angier's wife Julia (Piper Perabo) drowns in a magic stunt, the fun feud becomes bitter, with each trying to outsmart the other, while their assistant Cutter (Michael Caine) is caught in the middle.
This is a thrilling film that melds several elements well - fantasy, drama, romance, and most impressively of all, science fiction (although to say anymore would ruin it). I guarantee you'll be surprised more than once at what this film to offer, and the accompanying performances are also excellent.
Astoundingly, Nolan follows up Memento, Insomnia and Batman Begins with yet another classic. The rivalry between Bale and Jackamn is built with Nolan's masterful direction, and to call the film a twist-fest would be an understatement. Furthermore, these twists are not merely for shock value - they truly work.
This is a solid, original thriller, directed by Christopher Nolan (him what darkened Batman) and a meaty cast (Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Smug Johansson) The story revolves around two rival magicians and their complete and utter obsession with magic. Their obsessions escalate to the point of thieving, sabotage and violence, and through flashback-within-flashback their story is told. There's magic tricks, romance, thrills, death and a tiny spattering of comedy. What more do you want?
Bale and Jackman are competent front men, Jackman just nudging ahead with a wider variety of emotions, while Bale, though ever brilliant, still has that slightly smarmy mouth that removes empathy a tad. Even Johansson avoids my wrath with an understated performance (well, as understated as you can be dressed in a corset as a magician's assistant). And Nolan handles the choppy timeframe perfectly. He's had practice - his first film being the backwards Memento, which was written by his brother Jonathan, who also co-writes the Prestige screenplay. Memento (in my top 5 films) left me reeling with its brilliance, and though The Prestige doesn't have quite the same impact, it still has a refreshingly original feel to it, especially compared to the current prequel/sequel/franchise movement.
Perhaps the main flaw is in the delivery of the film's "trick". Rather than it finish with a "my, didn't see that coming" blast, it was more a gradual reveal, leading to a "I think it must be... oh yes it is." But at least it was engaging enough to make you tot up all the clues to begin with, and there were moments where my heart was beating that little bit faster as I anticipated something nasty was about to happen...
The Prestige, it's a film about 2 magicians, one of whom is Christian Bale putting on a rather odd cockney accent in the late 1800's, how good can this film be in reality...well, simply put it's one very very good film with brilliant plot twists throughout that will keep the viewer, you, guessing until the very last second of the film.
Yep, the film is about 2 magicians, played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale with Michael Caine as their mentor, these 2 magicians whom somewhere down the line parted company due to a rather unfortunate accident, one of these magicians, played by Bale, has become the greatest magician in the country for one great trick...but he's in jail for the supposed murder of his former friend, Jackman.
The story revoles around Jackmans death (which is shown as the beginning of the film) and this trick of Bales, the 2 trading mind blows to the other trying to get an upper hand on each other until the 'trick' and Jackmans death are revealed at the end...
The story is actually very well done, I am not a huge fan of the magician genre, or at least I didn't think I would be (despite also liking The Illusionist), but it's done very very well by one of the greatest directors around (Chrisopher Nolan who did the absolutley superb Memento, and the current Batmans films), although I'm unsure on the final trick and the contraption used to make it happen, unknown to me how they could have done it differently but it's obvious that it isn't real, since it can't be, but it still fits in well with the story.
The acting, as you may have thought from 5/6 superb actors is very good indeed, it took me a while to get over Bales cockney accent, especially after such films as Batman, The Machinist and American Psycho, but he is superb and gets better as the film goes on, Jackman is his usual solid self along with Caine, Johansson, Perabo and Bowie with other equally good support.
What this film does very well, is not only the plot, not only the acting but perhaps most of all, the continually surprising plot twists which we encounter down the line, just as you know, or think you know, what has happend it all changes. Funnily enough me and my partner whilst watching this film kept guessing and suggested possible endings (to be honest I think our ending was better!), it became slightly predictable at the very very end, but most films do by that point.
The only downside I have to this film is that the opening 10 minutes or so are rather slow paced compared to the rest of the film, perhaps watching it at 12am wasn't clever in this aspect but once the 2nd scene with the water tank trick the film flows almost effortlessley, albeit being a few other points which, although vital to the story, do drag a very little, although the ending and the rest of the drama/twists more than make up for this.
The prestige at the end of the film (the prestige being the reveal and the ending of the trick of course) is brilliant and suddenly all previous plot twists make sense, at no point is the viewer confused about what is happening despite the numerous changes in our thought process, it's a brilliant film because, as with The Usual Suspects, you will watch this film back and having known the ending will piece the story together in a totally different way and realise how clever the film actually is.
Overall the film is brilliant, forget that it's a film about magicians (or don't if you like that sort of thing), it's a film filled with drama, plot twists, brilliant acting and a finale that is shocking and highly clever.
This film was well received by critics but was by no means a huge blockbuster. However, I would certainly rate this in my top 5 ever films.
The film begins set in Victorian London, with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale performing a magic trick that goes wrong resulting in the death of Jackman's wife. Jackman blames Bale who doubts himself as to whether it was his fault or not.
The 2 magicians part and become the two greatest magician rivals obsessively trying to out-do each other, regardless of the consequences.
In a battle to the death, the film takes the viewer on an adventure full of twists and turns with an ending you can never predict. As soon as thie film finishes you will want to watch it again and will realise the clues were there all along. Even on my sixth or seventh watch I still noticed new clues!
With Michael Caine, Scarlett Johannson, David Bowie and Rebecca Hall making up the fabulous supporting cast this film is full of truly amazing acting!
I have recommended this film to a number of friends, all who have thoroughly enjoyed the film. I would recommend this film to everyone and at only £3.99 on Play.com it's an absolute steal. Just remember to follow Caine's advice and "watch closely".
This is a brilliant film, a film about magicians that truly stimulates and leaves you guessing until the very last reels.
Hugh Jackman plays Robert Angier a decent enough magician who in tandem with his partner, Alfred Borden (Bale) and his wife form a magic act, Borden plays the stooge in the audience who ties ropes around a water tank in which Angiers wife is placed and she miraculously escapes, except one night she doesn't and the recriminations between Borden and Angier get too much and they go their seperate ways, over the years they repeatedly attempt to outdo each other in their illusions and head down a dangerous path where they are prepared to destroy each other to do it.
The film is exceptional, it is set in Victorian London and this suits Christopher Nolan's style of direction perfectly, we are treated to dark, grimy, authentic scenery and costumes, the direction is terrific with no glamour or cgi just plain old suspense, good acting and a fantastic plot. The stories of Angier and Borden bisect each other, both in their own ways fall for a delightful magicians assistant, underplayed excellently by Scarlett Johannson, both are mentored by Michael Caine who is superb as always as an experienced old stage director and both are prepared to destroy the other and their families and themselves simply to create the ultimate illusion.
Jackman is brilliant I thought he might be out of his depth in this cast but his gradual evolution from cheery good guy to a man broken by obsession is excellent, he throws himself into the role and his sparring with Bale is brilliant. Bale is really good as the working class Borden, he is cold, calculating and from the start is only interested in magic, until his daughter is born. Once you have seen the film you will appreciate some elements during it which become clear at the end, it is definitely worth a second look for this. Johannson is good as the assistant, she plays each off against the other and has a mix of innocence and allure down to perfection.
Caine can bring his cockney accent out for this film and is knowing, charming and can see the damage being done, he is almost a narrator of what will happen with his warnings throughout.
I have to be honest and say this is a brilliant film and one I really rate but I did find David Bowies performance a bit over the top as a scientist living on a hill, I won't ruin his role by talking about it, but this part didn't ring true for me, although what he provides is important in the finale.
As with any magic show the finale is all improtant, the smoke and mirrors disappear to reveal the illusion that has taken place and this is what Nolan does with this film, at the last moment the web of deception closes and we have a winner......but at what cost!!!
The DVD is available for £3.99 in Play and Amazon, it includes a Directors Notebook which is really interesting as Nolan is one of the most important big budget directors around today, it has 5 making of documentaries, still photo galleries and a theatrical trailer.
This film is one i'd definitely recommend on all fronts, great story, great acting and a wicked sleight of hand from Mr Nolan at the end!
Hugh Jackman ... Robert Angier
Christian Bale ... Alfred Borden
Michael Caine ... Cutter
Piper Perabo ... Julia McCullough
Rebecca Hall ... Sarah Borden
Scarlett Johansson ... Olivia Wenscombe
Samantha Mahurin ... Jess Borden
David Bowie ... Nikola Tesla
Andy Serkis ... Alley
Daniel Davis ... Judge
Jim Piddock ... Prosecutor
Christopher Neame ... Defender
Mark Ryan ... Captain
Roger Rees ... Owens
Jamie Harris ... Sullen Warder
For a good year or so, this film was sitting on my shelf unloved and unwatched - when I was eventually drawn to it after I realised it had been directed by Christopher Nolan (of Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight ...), I discovered just what I'd been missing. For my money, this is simply an outstanding film in so many ways. A strong cast produce performances to match reputations while the plot twists and turns, skillfully keeping its secrets from the viewer. Stylistically too, The Prestige is a great success. It captures the look and feel of the era, when Magic, Trickery and Science were rather less distinct than we consider them now.
The "prestige" of the title alludes to the final act of the typical tripartite magic trick. First comes "the Pledge", in which the magician shows the audience something apparently quite regular, ordinary, like a hat, a coin or watch, or a box, and demonstrates its normality. Secondly, "the Turn"; the magician makes something extraordinary happen - the coin vanishes, the lady in the box is sawed in half. Then "the Prestige" - what the film calls "... the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance ...". Here, the lady is put back together again and revealed (all having gone accordingly) to be quite unharmed. This is how the audience sees it, at least - for the magician, this is the hard part, the part where one needs to make the "magic" happen.
This third part, the Prestige, is the secret which drives the film. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play friends-turned-rivals magicians, who after the tragic events which open the film, push and test each other again and again to establish just how far they'll go to master their art.
We open the film in a courtroom; Bale's character Alfred Borden is being tried for the murder of Robert Angier (Jackman). From here, the story rewinds, and switches between different times within the pair's rivalry. Furthest back, the two are shown competing in London, with Borden's "ultimate act" at the centre of the story. Some time after this, we see Angier in Colorado attempting to unearth the secret behind Borden's masterful illusion, which some claim is "real" magic. Most recently, the story focuses on Borden in his prison cell, reading the departed Angier's diary.
This back-and-forth narrative structure works extremely well. With the principal characters reading each other's diaries, the plot is able to switch seamlessly between different times and build up an ever-deepening, multi-layered picture. As the film nears its climax, this complex storytelling pays off, as Nolan delivers twist after turn, revealing the true extent of the story. Though he didn't go to the extent he went to with Memento in terms of telling the story backwards, this non-chronological approach is a major part of this film; the watcher is only shown a little of the bigger picture each time, and as such, the resolution of the film is all the more powerful when it arrives, bringing all the composite pieces of the plot together as it does. Like all the best films of this type, featuring some kind of suprise, or "twist" ending, the film is a different proposition on second viewing, as so many of the things that seemed minor on first sight take on a new and more consequential significance. I also liked the way that some important areas of the film are left open to interpretation; several key moments can be seen in a different light if one chooses, creating a number of different levels on which the film can be seen.
Nolan seems a meticulous, painstaking director who nonetheless appreciates flair and face-value visual effect. These two concerns are united wonderfully in The Prestige; it can be viewed as a visually stunning, well-acted story of rivalry, whilst also possessing such depth and ambiguity as to reward those who would wish to consider it further. A mention should certainly go to the supporting performances as well, without which the film would not have such depth and possibility. Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Rebecca Hall and Andy Serkis all play their parts exquisitley, providing a strong, intriguing stage for Bale and Jackman to take the centre of.
The DVD also contains a number of well-worthwhile extras, most notably a feature entitled "The Cinematic Slight of Hand of Christopher Nolan", in which the director discusses some of the key decisions and thought processes that ran behind the film. With a film with so many layers as this, this is a genuinely insightful extra that really contributes and brings something more to the DVD.
I'm a big fan of Christopher Nolan's films, and though others may have been lauded more, this is almost certainly the most purely enjoyable and engaging one I've seen, and the one to which I'll return the most.
The Prestige attempts a hat trick by combining a ridiculously good-looking cast, a highly regarded new director, and more than one sleight of hand. Does it pull it off? Sort of. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play rival magicians who were once friends before an on-stage tragedy drove a wedge between them. While Bale's Alfred Borden is a more skilled illusionist, Jackman's Rufus Angier is the better showman; much of the film's interesting first half is their attempts to sabotage--and simultaneously, top--each other's tricks. Even with the help of a prop inventor (Michael Caine) and a comely assistant (Scarlett Johansson), Angier can't match Borden's ultimate illusion: The Transporting Man. Angier's obsession with learning Borden's trick leads him to an encounter with an eccentric inventor (David Bowie) in a second half that gets bogged down in plot loops and theatrics. Director Christopher Nolan, reuniting with his Batman Begins star Bale, demonstrates the same dark touch that hued that film, but some plot elements--without giving anything away--seem out of place with the rest of the movie. It's better to sit back and let the sometimes-clunky turns steer themselves than try to draw back the black curtain. That said, The Prestige still manages to entertain long after the magician has left the stage--a feat in itself. --Ellen A. Kim