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The Prestige (2006)

A Friendship That Became a Rivalry.

Directed by:

Christopher Nolan

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 130 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13

On DVD

Country: United Kingdom, United States

I don’t know what’s more surprising, Christian Bale putting on a credible Cockney accent, being Welsh and living in Hollywood and all, or a film about magicians actually being rather good? I’d probably choose the the Bale/accent strand as almost anything in the hands of Christopher ‘Mr Midas’ Nolan is almost fated to be brilliant from the start.

The Prestige is about two friends, Robert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale), who work as assistants for a popular magician in Victorian London alongside Julia (Perabo), Robert’s wife. When Julia dies during a performance, Robert blames his friend and they turn into bitter enemies. They both become magicians in their own right and, at first, harmlessly sabotage each others’ shows but when Alfred discovers the ultimate illusion, his competitor pursues a dangerous obsession to learn the secrets behind the trick.

After a slightly messy opening build-up where we are ambiguously swept back and forth through time, The Prestige really hits its stride. A ‘Rollercoaster ride’ is an overused metaphor but it so aptly applies to Christopher Nolan’s gem as the plot goes back and forth, round and round, and both ambles and speeds along. Just as fun as the real thing but without the vomit.  Because of the supernatural undercurrents, we are constantly surprised with extraordinary and incredible happenings and plot twists that in a different context would seem ridiculous but here are deeply engrossing.

The all-star cast – not necessarily in terms of status at the time but in quality – add a sheen of excellence and cinematic expertise to flesh out the story. Bale and Jackman are excellently supported by Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Andy Serkis (Gollum)  and even David bloody Bowie. Even though most of the characters are vain and conniving and they spend most of the time trying to kill or imprison each other, they are well-fleshed out and charismatic enough for you to pick your side and root for who you like.

It's Got: Plot twists and turns, a character who out-Cockneys Michael Caine, a great cast.

It Needs: Concentration to get through the first fifteen minutes.

DVD Extras Very disappointing extras that don't even include a Director's Commentary. It does have a collection of very short documentaries, including Conjuring the Past,The Visual Maze,Metaphors of Deception, Tesla: The Man Who Invented the 20th Century, and Resonances.

Alternatives:

Magicians, Memento, The Illusionist

Summary

Christopher Nolan’s magical mystery tour provides impressive plot twists galore and oozes real star quality.

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