Sunday, April 28, 2013

Movie Review: The Prestige

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Story, acting, story, look, and did I mention the story?
Cons: I didn't see it sooner
The Bottom Line:
Movie sticks with you
Everything works together
Engrossing and bold




"Obsession is a Young Man's Game."

When The Prestige came out, I was interested in seeing it, but it wasn't high on my list.  As a result, I missed it in the theater.  This was despite my brother and sister-in-law raving about it.  I finally borrowed their copy to watch.  How I wish I had listened to them sooner.

100 years ago, there were two fledgling magicians.  Both Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are the plants in an audience who help a magician with his final act.  But one night things turn deadly, leaving Robert a widower and breaking apart the two men.

Over the years, they keep tabs on each other and try to hurt each other.  That's how Robert knows when Alfred premiers his most phenomenal trick, the transported man.  In this trick, Alfred moves from one box to another across the stage in one second flat.  Robert becomes obsessed with learning how his rival does the trick, an obsession he takes to unhealthy levels.  Who is the ultimate magician?  Will Robert learn the secret of the transported man?  What lengths will he go to attempting to get the secret?

Really, this description hardly does the film justice.  There is so much going on you really need to sit down and watch it from beginning to end.

The story is told in a series of flashbacks to two different times in the story.  But don't worry, the beginning sets things up sufficiently that you never doubt when something is happening.  Once I got into the mindset of the film, it was very easy to track everyone and their movements over the course of the story.

Instead of an action film, this is really a character study of Robert and Alfred.  We really dig into their lives and their interactions.  And it's a story of obsession and how their mutual obsession comes back to haunt them both.

As a period drama, the film looks incredible.  You never for a moment doubt that you are watching something taking place in turn of the century London and Colorado.

And the acting is top notch.  Every single actor in the piece brings their A game to every scene.  Assisting Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are the likes of Michael Caine as Robert's manager, Scarlett Johansson as Robert's on stage assistant, Rebecca Hall as Alfred's wife Sarah, and David Bowie as the historical inventor Tesla.  Their performances allowed me to get caught up in the story and forget the world around me.

The film is rated PG-13.  I certainly agree that it isn't for young kids.  There are several violent and scrim inducing images.  Fortunately, they are never on screen for very long.  And they are all needed for the story.  There is nothing gratuitous about anything.

The film is just over two hours, but I didn't notice.  It practically flew by as events unfolded.

Which brings us to the climax.  I am not going to give it away except to say I didn't see it coming.  This is one of the few truly unpredictable films I've seen recently.  Yet every thing make sense as you think about it, and I have been thinking about it.  In fact, you really need to watch it at least twice because many things take on a second meaning when you have all the facts.

Yes, all this does mean my brother and sister-in-law were right.  (Just don't tell them I admitted that.)  The Prestige is a wonderful film that will haunt you for some time after you finish watching it.

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