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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 27.27%
Average: 12.73%
Pretty Bad: 0.91%
Total Crap: 4.55%

5 reviews, 80 user ratings

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Prestige, The
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by brianorndorf

"Imagine if Doug Henning and The Amazing Jonathan were this cool"
4 stars

It’s Bale vs. Jackman for control of magic in Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige.” While the sci-fi touches in the final act reach a little further than they have to, the picture is still devilish fun, with the lead actors giving the material their all as dueling magicians who don’t know when to yield.

Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are two rival magicians looking for the perfect trick to turn themselves into legends. Fighting for attention over the years, the two continue to sabotage each other’s lives and acts, looking to their mentor (Michael Caine) for guidance. When Alfred hits upon a doozy of a trick, Rupert goes to extremes to comprehend how it was accomplished, and how best he could turn it into his advantage.

A month ago, “The Illusionist” fashioned the world of turn-of-the-century magic into a Harlequin romance paperback, stained with a noticeable lack of actual awe to the sleight of hand. “The Prestige” (the term for a magician’s ultimate reveal) puts the fangs back into magic, serving up mystery and macabre suspense worthy of the profession.

“Batman Begins” handed director Christopher Nolan the greatest hit of his career, and it was well deserved. However, “Batman” also spirited Nolan away from the fractured, intimate filmmaking with which he made his name (“Memento,” “Insomnia”), making “Prestige” a homecoming of sorts. It’s based on a novel by Christopher Priest, but drips with the heavy thematic investigation that Nolan is so gifted at realizing.

“Illusionist” was a picture that looked upon the mysteries of magic melodramatically. “Prestige” endeavors to take the viewer backstage to witness the creation of tricks and the frustration that arises out of competition to provide the biggest bang. Rupert and Alfred are locked in virtual battle as they try to find the ultimate trick, losing assistants (Scarlett Johansson) and the use of limbs during the contest. They fight dirty, but the respect they hold for each other ultimately outweighs their lust for supremacy. They desire fortune and glory on the London stage, but both magicians crave the trick that will make them into an industry god.

Nolan is at his best when dealing with tightly-wound mental bear traps like this. “Prestige” isn’t so much a film about dueling magicians as it is a tug-o-war between two gentlemen who refuse to relinquish power to the other; they would sooner die than be known as the number two talent in the land. The antagonism is executed perfectly by Bale and Jackman, who give the roles an unsettling air of fierce, unforgiving competition that soon entangles their lives and work. Nolan does justice to these characters by not picking a favorite, instead using the seesaw momentum of the script to examine the sympathies of both men.

The trick that both Rupert and Alfred are madly chasing is known as “The Transported Man,” which uses the illusion of teleportation to achieve its desire effect. It’s Alfred’s invention, leaving Rupert near-madness trying to figure it out, and eventually leading him to the American hideaway of Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) to break its secrets. This subplot leads to some rather unsavory sci-fi tangents which could make or break the film to some audiences. Nolan doesn’t shatter the hold of the story, but it can distract from the performances and the fantastic air of dirty one-upmanship that makes the first two acts of “Prestige” extraordinary.

Nolan has become something of a master of dark, cerebral material like “Prestige,” and if it runs a bit long (135 minutes) and a pinch off course, it doesn’t dilute the overall result. This film retains a mesmerizing hold on the audience, and it returns magic to the realm of the real, where craftsmanship and stage presence are just as thrilling as the physical act of disappearance.

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originally posted: 10/20/06 16:24:28
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User Comments

3/06/15 stanley welles dazzles in its enigmatic mystique 4 stars
10/20/11 Magic Mind-bending, a fable of revenge and its long term effects on man. Stunning cinematography. 5 stars
7/03/11 DK Brilliantly plotted, soildly acted and very entertaining. One lingering question though. 5 stars
3/04/09 R.W. Welch Somewhat overplotted and disjointed, but still watchable enough. 4 stars
1/13/09 Anonymous. hard to understand but after i watched it 3 or 4 times i got it :] really good movie.! 4 stars
9/07/08 Halad65 Simpler than you think - great performances, awesome plot. 5 stars
5/29/08 MDH-Matt Like one big, elaborate Vegas-style magic trick, we just want the payoff 3 stars
1/07/08 Helen Fabulous movie, loved it. 5 stars
11/28/07 damalc almost a 5, but too long and over complicated 4 stars
10/27/07 tracey chambers my new fav movie. Its wonderful. great performances by all 5 stars
10/16/07 fools♫gold You'll like it. Even if you hate it now, just watch it again and you'll like it. 4 stars
8/07/07 Johnny Prestige is as ugly & gory a depiction of magic as the Illusionist is beautiful & dreamlike 1 stars
8/02/07 Alex Miles This movie is a wonderful movie bail should have won an oscar 5 stars
7/11/07 Hello Stranger high jackamn is ggreat in this. a great effort in puttin it as a non-linearized. movie. 4 stars
7/08/07 lucy This film was so interesting and clever....i couldn't get out of my seat! 5 stars
7/04/07 Jennifer This was great! So many twists and turns that you have to watch twice to get it all. 5 stars
7/02/07 Jubei With Memento,Nolan's best work,Bowie's flawless as Tesla.Full of metaphors. 5 stars
5/31/07 Jiz Definitely worth watching, great plot and performances. 5 stars
5/26/07 TreeTiger This is nothing less than an excellent movie! 5 stars
4/29/07 Miss Me Twisted.. I hated it the bird part that's why I wont rate it with a 5 3 stars
4/25/07 matthew holy fuck that was twisted... 5 stars
4/24/07 Michele The Illusionist was better, and you could feel sympathy for the characters on that movie. 3 stars
4/11/07 Indrid Cold Considerably more intriguing than The Illusionist. 4 stars
3/11/07 Ryan_A Nolan delivers again, with Bale and Jackman on top of their game. Needs more ScarJo.. 5 stars
3/05/07 Vinnie Predictable but interesting. 3 stars
3/04/07 Lola a better film than Departed. Departed sucks totally! 5 stars
3/03/07 Phil M. Aficionado Just a bit over the top; well done but too slick for me 3 stars
3/01/07 Anti-Goober Very watchable, but slightly boring and lacking drive 3 stars
2/25/07 Ryan i give this a little edge over the departed probably the 2 best moves out year. MUST SEE 5 stars
2/23/07 Corndog A decent flick. Worth a gander, but I'm not that interested in watching it again. 3 stars
2/18/07 Greenspoon JR This is a beautiful movie, in every way! 4 stars
2/14/07 kat GENIAL!!!!!!!!!!....nothing else to say.... 5 stars
2/14/07 D Gotta see it twice. Even better the second time. 5 stars
2/09/07 Donald The best movie of 2006. In my top 20 5 stars
1/17/07 Zeeshan Best movie of 2006. Move over The Departed. 4 stars
1/12/07 Richard Brandt Well acted, beautiful to look at, not terribly surprising 4 stars
1/06/07 Mike Strange and unique movie but good at the same time 4 stars
1/05/07 Watch This Movie! Any fan of suspenseful thrillers with twists and turns MUST see this movie. I mean it. 5 stars
1/03/07 Natasha Delicious and disturbing in equal measure. 5 stars
12/05/06 matt top5: inconvenient truth, eternal sunshine, being john malk, requiem for a dream, and this. 5 stars
11/24/06 Justin L Is it just me or was Bowie doing a great Pierce Brosnan impression? 5 stars
11/21/06 juan dela cruz ambot sa langaw pilay edad sa uk-uk...ckwet..apil na to siya sa majik..labot nimo.. 5 stars
11/20/06 Bliss Brilliant all around. Those who don't like it, didn't "get" it. 5 stars
11/18/06 tetractys brianorndorff is spot on. My only reservation was a desire for more Tesla uncertainty. 4 stars
11/16/06 MP Bartley Had it worked out before the end, but that's part of the fun. Maddeningly entertaining. 5 stars
11/14/06 Allison Quick, smart and riveting. A truly excellent film from beginning to end. 5 stars
11/14/06 Jake if you can get over moronic voiceovers and a senseless story, you might not feel cheated. 1 stars
11/14/06 Wayland This story just doesn't add up and no amout of acting can fix it. 1 stars
11/13/06 Lucy Tight, smart, captivating - up there with the Usual Suspects and Memento 5 stars
11/13/06 Mel It had a slow start, but that's my ONLY complaint. Jackman, Bale and Bowie we fantastic!! 4 stars
11/12/06 The Jax This movie was brilliant on all levels. Genius. 5 stars
11/10/06 bluebell Both actors are wonderful...and to think Jackman also is in The Fountain! Kudos to Nolan! 5 stars
11/10/06 Shayna Although I figured it out half way through, It made me work for it and I respect that 4 stars
11/07/06 Ole Man Bourbon The finale seemed way out of control, nevertheless, an entertaining film. 4 stars
11/06/06 Seageezer A little too humorless, but clever and well made nevertheless. 4 stars
11/06/06 David No one cares about the man in the box... untill your'e the one in there. Creeepy. 5 stars
11/05/06 Nancy Loved it-was engrossed all the way through 5 stars
10/31/06 chris. everything about this movie is dripping w/ misdirection, perfect for a film about magic 5 stars
10/31/06 Mona The turn is easy enough to arrive at, but the prestige-- is another story entirely 5 stars
10/29/06 Quigley very complex, very cool movie. Chris Nolan needs to make more movies with Bale. a must-see 5 stars
10/27/06 birdsall I loved it. I didnt mind not knowing much about Borben, I cheered for him the whole time. 5 stars
10/27/06 Sir Spam-a-lot I had it all figured out early - which ruined it for me, but still interesting 4 stars
10/26/06 GregSenko Soundtrack in narrow sounding, uninviting and obviously manipulative 2 stars
10/24/06 fusion chef a unique dark movie. may be hard for those that need a character to cheer for. worth seeing 5 stars
10/24/06 Rona de la Mer Bale is awesome! 5 stars
10/24/06 rs bucy great movie 5 stars
10/24/06 Duhhh Lame sci-fi "prestige" of Jackman ruins a humorless film 1 stars
10/24/06 Johnathan poor bird... 4 stars
10/24/06 neoi;l go see it twice 5 stars
10/23/06 Anthony I wish I was dumber so I could not figure out the entire plot in 30 mins! 3 stars
10/23/06 Darko Lick my balls, this movie was better than V for Vendetta! 5 stars
10/23/06 jessica williams this movie is GGRREEAATT 5 stars
10/22/06 Wayne klein Excellent movie with challenging, complex characters and plot. 5 stars
10/22/06 john s. Well worth the price of a ticket. It's powerful. 5 stars
10/22/06 Skiv Visually, it's really exciting. Loved Bowie as Tesla! 5 stars
10/22/06 Lindsay Holy crap, one of the best movies i've ever seen. 5 stars
10/22/06 melina i'm still trying to figure out parts of this moview... 5 stars
10/22/06 Adrian This is a fun movie and Nolan's directing makes it a visual treat. Excellent acting as well 5 stars
10/22/06 naewar BEST MOVIE I'VE SEEN IN YEARS! What a treat! 5 stars
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  20-Oct-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 20-Feb-2007



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