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The Prestige (DVD)
Member Name: cazkins
The Prestige (DVD)
Advantages: Interesting settings & premise, strong cast, good quality & dark atmosphere
Disadvantages: Not always the most lively/interesting at times
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
Summary: An interesting flick about mysterious magic and deadly competition