The Prestige (2006)
User ReviewsReview this title
Much of the film rings very true, such as the all-consuming obsessions of the lead characters to be the best and outdo all others. It's an easy step to accept that such unwavering determination spills over into deadly territory, as rival magicians suave Rupert Angier (a riveting performance by Hugh Jackman) and audacious Alfred Borden (Christian Bale effortlessly playing a brooding lower-class Brit) each seek to wreak continuing revenge upon the other.
The story, though adapted from a novel, feels like a perfect fit for director Nolan's sensibilities, as the machinations of the two men become increasingly convoluted during a back-and-forth tug of wits that keeps you guessing in the style of Nolan's "Memento." As the game grows increasingly deadly, and threatens to consume all they love, the film becomes a fascinating study in single-mindedness.
The work is epic in sweep, beautifully filmed, and strongly acted. The only odd note in casting is David Bowie as Nikola Tesla (he looks nothing like the actual Tesla, if you care about these sort of things, and his appearance calls attention to itself as superstar casting often does), but Mr. Bowie holds his own. Solid performances are all around, with Michael Caine adding dignity and depth as the old master, Scarlett Johanssen as the as the lovely stage assistant who becomes the third point in a twisted love triangle, and even Andy Serkis (Gollum!) in a memorable supporting role.
The introduction of Tesla adds yet another twist, as the film shifts from real-but-possible stage illusion to steam-punkish sci-fi. This transition is a hard note to pull off, since the beginning of the film doesn't quite suggest such a direction, but if you're willing to let Nolan lead you on the journey into increasingly fantastic realms, the narrative rewards you with thought-provoking moral and dramatic exploration of the issues raised.
A truly entertaining movie, and an original, unusual, dark ride -- well worth seeing in a theater for its grand scope and vision.
Angier starts performing with the sobriquet "The Great Danton" with Cutter (Michael Caine) as his illusion engineer, while Borden with the stage name "The Professor" with Fellon as his engineer. Angier is an adept showman, but lacks the technical prowess. On the contrary, Borden is highly skillful, but lacks the taste for grandeur and showmanship. Each regards the other as his only obstacle (owing to their bitterly intertwined past) and this starts a series of events in which each tries to stymie the other by any means possible (sabotage, abduction, incrimination and even killings). Awed by the apparent genuineness of Borden's version of "The Transported Man" and inveigled by Borden's deliberate misdirection, Angier travels miles and spends a fortune to approach an ingenious scientist named Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) in order to cajole him into building a machine for him (a machine that could help him outperform Borden). Nikola Tesla is an apostle of Alternating Current (and rightly thinks it to be superior to Direct Current), and is under immense pressure imparted by Thomas Edison (ruthless advocator of Direct Current) and his men, who are after Tesla. As Edison's men close in on him, Tesla runs out of time and hence funds for his research and is forced to oblige Angier, who is his very last client. Tesla flees the scene shortly after fulfilling his promise to Angier (not without leaving him a strong note of caution against the use of his invention), whose ever increasing skepticism in Tesla is placated by the efficacy of his masterful invention. Using Tesla's machine, Angier introduces his own version of "The Transported Man", which becomes an instant success, but in lieu of a terrible self-sacrifice (that Angier has to make every night while performing). As the story culminates, the viewer is startled with many revelations including the mental and physical torments that Borden's complex character undergoes owing to his total devotion towards his art.
The success of an act of illusion solely depends upon the deftness with which its three parts viz. the Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige are performed. Similarly, for a movie to be a success, its three main aspects i.e. screenplay, direction, and acting are ought to be top-notch. Christopher Nolan incredibly manages to strike all the right cords with The Prestige. His riveting maneuvers coupled with his ingenious auteur skills aggrandize the brilliance of the movie ten-fold. Nolan succeeds in having a dream assemblage of actors with almost everyone giving a memorable performance. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are superb in their lead roles. Michael Caine shines in his low-key portrayal of Cutter, an ordinary part made to appear extraordinary through sheer brilliance; vintage Caine. David Bowie as Nikola Tesla and Andy Serkis (Gollum of LOTR) as Alley (Tesla's assistant) are stupendous in their cameos. Scarlet Johansson also manages to give a scintillating portrayal as Borden's paramour, Olivia.
The movie is a roller-coaster of a ride with intriguingly intertwined subplots and masterful time switching, which makes it one of a kind and an ultimate masterpiece. The uncanny feat of Nolan to manifest a motion picture, which forays the realms of Mystery, Thrill, Sci-fi and Fantasy, is truly exemplary and makes the movie a contemporary classic. The movie is a tapestry of twists and turns, which evinces its overwhelming potential to bewitch the masses and satiate even the most esoteric viewers. The questions that it incessantly asks of the viewers can only be answered after repetitive viewings, with each viewing seeking utmost attention of the viewer. The only question that I would ask of the viewer is: "Are you watching closely?"
A must watch for anyone, who has nothing against giving his mind a rigorous exercise and his body an adrenaline rush. 10/10
Told in a narrative that jumps between various points along its time line, playing out like a magic act itself, the story is that of two magicians on the rise in their careers. The first -- played by Christian Bale -- is an expert in understanding the fundamentals of any trick, but lacks showmanship. The second -- played by Hugh Jackman -- is a master showman who is more entertaining than technical. A tragic series of events pits the two performers against each other in a battle of wits that spirals further and further out of control, consuming both of them and everything and everyone they care about.
With a story that requires actors with a great deal of emotive range, Nolan has assembled what could be described as a dream cast. Both Bale and Jackman suit their respective roles perfectly, and pitting these two performers against each other was a stroke of casting genius. Michael Caine takes what could have been a forgettable role by any lesser actor and elevates it with his demanding screen presence. Probably the most surprising performance comes from David Bowie whose unforgettable turn as master physicist Nikola Tesla absolutely shines. Add Andy Serkis to the mix, and what is assembled is a group of performers who know how to fully engage the audience.
The Prestige is hard to pigeonhole into any specific genre as it walks the fine line between mystery, drama, suspense and fantasy. In that, the story becomes a never-ending stream of wonder for the mind: one can never tell exactly where the story is going to lead next, becoming more and more as time goes on. This gives Christopher Nolan ample opportunity to play. And play he does. With narration by several characters, each adding their own viewpoint to the events, and with a direction that moves between time to mystify and distract, the end result is a climax that itself is a series of puzzles that each unravel beautifully.
The only major criticisms that can be leveled at the Prestige are a confusing play with the seasons during Tesla's introduction (winter suddenly becomes spring/summer and back again) and a strange choice of music for the closing credits (a pop song at the end of a film such as this seems tacky). However, neither is significant enough of a problem to warrant any need to avoid the film at all.
In the end, the Prestige is a fantastic display of what can be accomplished when you bring together superior talent. It is certainly worth the price of admission and as good as any magic show you are to come across.
One can relate to this personal human struggle for victory over another at all costs on a much grander scale, as the two magicians could easily be symbolic of how leaders of countries come to blows with each other, at the expense of their women and children -- something we struggle with right now in our world. There are deeper layers of this film that will be uncovered over time.
Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale and Sir Michael Caine all contributed stunning, emotional performances. Rebecca Hall, who played Sarah to Bale's Alfred Borden, turned in a highly charged performance as well, making Scarlett Johansson's Olivia flat in comparison. And although some people thought the plot line a bit tedious, I found it to be refreshingly complex and engaging, while not being so complex as to lose you. If you can't follow this one, you've been watching television too long. And who cares if the illusions are mundane or scientifically unbelievable? Isn't that what both movies and illusions ask us to do? To suspend disbelief? Meantime, there's a message in its madness. Hello.
The film is visually moody and evocative, easily transporting you into the time period. What more could you ask for? A film is a visual medium and this one is a visual ten. The acting is superb as well as the plot. It keeps you interested; it keeps you guessing right to the shocking but most appropriate end.
It asks you, what is one willing to sacrifice for the "prestige?"
I think this one's an Oscar definite.
I went to the first showing opening day (Friday, Oct. 20th) with 2 friends and sat a row behind them, alone, to enjoy it peacefully. I loved it all.
Christopher Nolan really has a gift at directing. The way the movie cuts back and forth between different places and times is clever. Although some might be confused or left stupefied, others will be happy and glorified. The movie will keep you guessing the whole time until the very end. The script, acting, settings, props, everything was so well-done.
Hugh Jackman was excellent as the angry, obsessive magician trying to gain back his life by revenge. Christian Bale was equally impressive as the mystifying, secretive showman, never letting out his secrets until necessary. Michael Caine rocked in supporting everyone else's parts with his curiosity. The rest of the cast rounded out nicely and helped out where need be. I really recommend this movie to a sophisticated audience who doesn't mind a long, mysterious movie.
And man, what an ending.
The final pay-off of any magic act the prestige is of the essence, and preluding it is the pledge, followed by the turn. Together these three key components are slotted in unique positions in 'The Prestige's arrestingly clever script but it is the titular act that propels the film. The pledge introduces our main characters: magicians Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) in turn-of-the-century London and we see how their friendship abruptly becomes a fully-fledged rivalry and hostility with a magic act gone horribly wrong in front of an audience. There is a death, and it lights the fuse of an onslaught of reel revelations and the one-upmanship that will ensue between the two competitors. 'The turn' comes to offers twists by the bucketload in the form of love-interests, and technologically marvelous magic acts. I gasped, I scratched my head, I watched on in awe. No description will do it justice.
The prestige as the end note to the show in which, for example, the disappearer reappears to the deafening applause of the crowd is so meticulously composed in the film through foreshadowing and fractured chronology that rigorously intersects, intertwines, intercuts, fast-forwards, rewinds and replays key parts of the story that the whole spectacle floors you. Christopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan have worked out a template script that is more twisty and turny than a mountain road and for that reason I am very reluctant to spoil even the slightest detail of the story of 'The Prestige' of all of its acts, in fact. If you are shaking your head thinking a clever twist ending does not make the movie (and I agree), know that this is not a "gotcha"-kind of Shyamalan trick where you want to stop the film, rewind it and watch it meticulous foreshadowing up to the cheap pay-off, but a tightly-written ever-shifting hall of mirrors with so many intrinsic twists that on your way home you will still be scratching you head and searching for clues.
Our two magicians are perfectly-cast with Hugh Jackman capturing the showy, slick, ambition-driven nature of his character Angier in contrast to Bale's technique-driven purist who may be well on his way to perfecting the craft, but lacks the 'Abracadabra' entertainment value. I had always crowned the latter the more capable actor of the two, but the fact is that Jackman performs just as well in the film. Having said that, Borden has more layers to his complex, contradictory (keyword) persona than the flashy, greedy Angier which perhaps begs more weight from the actor behind the role, shifting more demand on Christian Bale. The sad fact of it is that neither of these two men are likable characters and elicit nothing more than temporary sympathy. However, the secrecy with which the intricate story approaches them makes it impossible for the viewer to slot them in protagonist vs. antagonist positions, and indeed they are given almost the exact same screen-time and voice-over narration throughout, a subtle and brilliant accolade of Nolan's.
To further evaluate the cast of The Prestige, David Bowie and Michael Caine undoubtedly merit a great deal of praise for supporting the two moody, unlikeable leading men. It is a crying shame then that Scarlett Johansson always an incapable actress except for the rare occasions in which she plays a sultry American vixen (Match Point) performs so badly in the role of Olivia Wenscombe, a magic assistant pending between Borden and Angier. Here she is actually given a very good and important character who is not necessarily bad like the rest, but botches her interpretation by giving an unspeakably hammy London accent. Nolan picks up on her shortcomings as an actress, and resorts to boob-shots en masse. This he should be fully entitled to do as a director, for a beautiful diversion will always camouflage the process and any of its potential missteps, as Michael Caine's character puts forward.
With Scarlett as a pleasurable paint-job, twists by the bucket-load and flashy magic tricks as windowdressing to a solid mystery film, there is little or no need to delve deeper into the psyches of its characters to keep our attention. Yet this is done, and superbly so, by Christopher Nolan. 'Antihero' gets a whole new spin to it in The Prestige with two friends-turned-rivals so bitterly poised on the brink of obsession of outshining the other that succeeding with the ultimate 'prestige' of magic followed by applause is enough to drive them to murder, bankruptcy, deceit and sabotage. Borden simply wants to be better on a technical level, while Angier wants the public's recognition and wide-spread fame. Their ambition is in effect largely the same: create the definitive deceptive illusion and do it through any means necessary.
'The Prestige' is a majestic film that nevertheless spans across too long a running time. Condensation would have done wonders and surely bumped it up a notch, as would underpinning some humour at one or two points (it is VERY gloomy), but it truly is a great cinematic achievement and a shoe-in for my top 10 of 1006, and easily the most inventive film I have seen in years. I am eagerly anticipated director Christopher Nolan's next sleight-of-hand direction, and it looks like the closest is The Dark Knight (2008).
9 out of 10
New idea for a movie, and they succeeded it at it greatly. It will have you thinking every time you see a magician on TV!
i had to give this movie a 10/10, and i only have 4 movies that i would rate that way in my life time. If there is anything you do this year, make it a trip to watch this movie!
I hope you enjoy it as much as i did.
This is the kind of flick that you can discuss for weeks after. The plot is so detailed and complete and open to interpretation. My friend and I have been discussing various nuances of this film for the past 3 weeks. It definitely stays with you.
It's not an easy film to totally digest, even with two viewings, because that ending has some mind-boggling revelations. Without having to resort to spoilers, let me just say the story is extremely interesting, the acting very good, the period pieces fun to view and it's a pretty clean movie so grandma can also enjoy it, too, without language or sex concerns.
Basically, it's a story about obsession between two magicians in the last decade of the 19th century. They continually try to top one another and things get nasty along the way. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are both fun to watch in those roles, as are Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson in supporting roles.
This is one movie guaranteed to have you thinking about it when it's over!
Magic is present in everybody's childhood, but it is something we lose, as we get older, in part because there are not many movies about magic to watch when you grow up. But if you want to turn the clock back and feel excited about how magicians perform tricks and get some answers about "how it is possible" or "what's the trick", lucky you because there are two movies which will definitely satisfy your curiosity.
Both movies take place in England at the end of the XIX century. They not only have in common their genre, drama-mystery but also a fantastic cast. Edward Norton' remarkable portrayal of Eisenheim in The Illusionist is as memorable as Hugh Jackman and Christian Bales's in the Prestige. The appealing special effects, the convincing costumes and the compelling dialogue; you will enjoy these movies from the beginning to the end.
Although there are several similarities between the two movies their plots are quite different. The Illusionist is, without a doubt, a much more romantic interpretation of the life of a magician. The Prestige, on the other hand portrays the rivalry between two magicians where revenge is the main feeling. The second movie is, indeed, more action-packed but no less moving than The Illusionist.
These two must sees will trap you and will carry you to an enjoyable world full of magic. But if you really love cinema and good stories the one I highly recommended to you is the Illusionist.
This film is nothing more than a very expensive exercise in overstatement. How many times can we possibly hit our audience over the head with the same exact symbolism? How blatantly obvious can we make our "elaborate plot twists" by the end of the film? Hugh Jackman's closing speech is perfectly typical of this film. Shot and dying on the floor, he suddenly comes to this very drawn out and very boringly shot epiphany about how he was never REALLY obsessed with finding out his opponent's secrets. He actually traveled thousands of miles, spent countless amounts of money, (How did he have this, by the way?) shot, stalked, kidnapped, and did his very best to destroy his opponent's life, but he actually did it for "the look on their (the audience) faces." Please.
And plot twists? No no no, my friends. There is precisely one plot twist, and it is given away by the "tease" at the beginning of the film. As soon as you see that the hat doesn't leave, you know the rest of the movie. Okay, it clones things. He makes new and kills one of himself every time. It's not a huge leap in logic, but the filmmakers see fit to treat the audience like a bunch of Neanderthal second graders.
Finally, we are supposed to like the magician/twin that makes it back to his daughter in the end. Forgetting of course, the fact that he broke Hugh Jackman's legs, killed his wife, crushed that innocent woman's hand, and oh yes, shot and killed his rival. But he was justified, right? WRONG. Once again, Hollywood comes out with the kind of ambiguous, almost-moral movie that makes you just cringe with the pansy-butt quality of their statements.
Please do both me and yourself a favor and skip this tripe.
Plot lines are elsewhere, I am just going to explain why you should skip this movie. First, I will admit that except for this truly fatal flaw, it is an excellent movie. And that's why this was so incredibly disappointing. The movie takes place in the 19th century. Here on earth. And there is a central mystery that is woven throughout the film, and you wrack your brain trying to figure it out. You follow every twist and turn, scrutinize every detail, develop and evaluate theories on what the answer could be, and eagerly anticipate the revealing. And then, all of a sudden, its science fiction. They had a cloning machine. How completely cowardly a solution that was. If you are watching Star Trek or something, you know that you are in the world of science fiction, where anything goes. A cloning machine is a formal possibility, and if that ends up to be the explanation, you fully accept it because it makes sense in that reference frame. But it is entirely out of place when you are supposedly in a "period piece." Turns out, it was never a period piece, it was science fiction pretending to be a period piece. That's dumb. You can't develop some clever puzzle, and then wimp out and never solve it, but instead just invoke science fiction. Extremely lazy and irresponsible.
This reminds me of another terrible move, The Forgotten. Same exact fatal flaw (except the rest of the movie wasn't that great either). There's a mystery, with clues and evidence that are seemingly impossible to reconcile, and you can't wait to find out how its being done. And then, they tell you its aliens from outer space. Gee, thanks. Stupid stupid stupid. Its more angering with The Prestige because it was so much the better movie, and they ruined it for no reason. A cloning machine over 100 years ago? How freaking stupid.
I wanted to love it to death...it has everything I think a film should have, including a wonderfully rich atmosphere, a great cast and excellent direction. Through most of it, it dares the audience to be intelligent and to have an attention span longer than a fruit fly. It had all the makings of a great film, but I kept looking for (and longing for) the greatness to impact me. It never did.
It fell flat for me by the end. I really didn't care about any of them by then. I wasn't even sure I cared about the little girl. I certainly didn't care how anyone did any of the illusions; I was sick to death of their obsession with each other and just wanted them to move on already. Although there would be no film without it, it all seemed to be 'too much trouble to go through' and obsession is about getting caught up in it...for me, I couldn't get caught up in itnor could I quite get their obsession. Although Iam a big fan of the long, thinking person's film, I have to say I thought it dragged on and on by the end and I just wanted it over. It definitely did not leave me wanting more. I just wanted different.
I had paid attention all along, I was impressed with the film and thought the acting, the cinematography and the direction were all superb. Even though some of the twists seem unnecessary, I thought many were brilliant and I kept trying to will myself to care about it, to care about them, but I didn't.
It was a very good film in a detached sort of "viewing art" way but as far as feeling "wow"'d by the end, not so much.
First, a few points about the script. The script is dreadful in parts, with exposition that may as well be spoken directly to camera. The characters, Hugh Jackman's in particular, seem unrounded and without any kind of back story - seemingly plopped into the middle of an obsessive pursuit without any explanation as to where said obsessions may have originated. As happens in so many Hollywood movies, the female roles are perfunctory up to the point of pastiche - did anyone else groan with anticipation of how banal and run-of-the-mill Scarlett Johansson would be? I'd like to see a studio movie that, in the absence of an integral love story, crowbars in some half-assed romance entirely for the sake of some demograph of dubious existence who are believed to not want to see a movie without some histrionic sexual politics.
Now, on to those twists, of which there are two major ones. The first, whose set up is established very early on, is glaringly obvious. I spent most of the film seething with frustration as lines that, in what i guess the makers hoped would be in hindsight, are massively irritating 'clues' to the audience. All this is abrogated by the fact that it was all clear to me from the off (and i wasn't aware there was a twist to the film so i wasn't looking out for one), all due to the fact that essential production values fail to adequately disguise the twist. The second twist, which acts not only as plot but supposedly as a thematic comparison to the first, is what left me wanting my money back. The filmmakers seemed to have forgotten that suspension of disbelief must be eared through establishing what can an cannot happen in the world they have created. For example, in The Matrix, when we shown that it is Trinity's love for Neo that brings him back from the dead, the audience is able to accept this because the reality that has been established is one of sci-fi machines-rule-the-world type. We have been prepared to be asked to go along with the possible. The Prestige, a film that throughout its running time shows and tells us that the magic in the film is one rooted in realistic trickery and that the rivalry between the two main characters is based on which can come up with the cleverest ruse, believes that it does not need to ask the audience to suspend its disbelief before laying down the biggest of deus ex machina macguffins seen in recent cinema. We are expected to believe that within this realistic turn of the century world that a machine is invented that (through science, not magic) can do what remains impossible in the present. This 'twist' represents lazy, lazy storytelling - it is like the writers could not come up with an actual clever ending so just used their get out of jail free card instead.
On the side, there are some very pretty things to look at, with impressive period detail and some imaginative compositions from Nolan. Michael Caine and Andy Serkis are both excellent, and its always nice to see David Bowie on screen, but thats where the acting plaudits stop. Bale and Jackman give in uncharismatic and unlikeable performances and Johanssen floats along on a wave of arbitrariness.
I would say to avoid this film, unless you enjoy the energy that truly hating a film can give you, as it has to me.
I'm not sure how it fared awards wise upon its release, but it should have racked up quite a few. The story is wonderfully layered, the acting is superb, the directed is spectacular, etc. I can't find anything about this film that I would change.
Congratulations to the entire team that put this project together. I consider it one of the best films of all time.
If you have the opportunity I strongly urge that you check this film out. I think you'll be glad you did.
Well The Prestige is the latest of these. This film gets better and better with each viewing. Hugh Jackman should have won many awards for his role. People say "Oscar" but there are better awards out there than that, the Oscars are about as representative of what's the "very best" as the IMDb's Top 250 list is.
People have told me that they predicted the end, well that's their funeral, I never clicked until it was revealed for me, so I got much more value for my money.
Christopher Nolan is a master. Even though he seems quite humourless in his DVD extra interviews. He makes extremely entertaining films that are well cast and superbly executed, just as the Prestige is.
All those who never liked the film should be rounded up in a field and used for crazed scientific experiments, we could use Tesla!
2. The cat was duplicated. Surely by this alone anyone can deduce that Jackman was also duplicated. Hence the pointless "solving the puzzle" scenes.
3. Mystery/suspense turned into Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories science fiction halfway through the movie.
4. Jackman conveniently tears up the Transported Man secret(which was a driving plot) so he can be shot by Bale's twin brother.
5. Jackman conveniently finds an exact look-alike in a bar.
6. Bale's wife amazingly knows which days he loves her and which he doesn't, in a dire attempt to connect the twin brother twist.
7. I was terribly disappointed with Perabo's death scene and subsequent funeral. These were two important moments in the film and should have been emphasized and given more attention. "What knot did you tie?". "I don't know". "You don't know?".
8. A supposedly "dead" Jackman trots in public without any concern of being recognized to have a contrived face to face dramatic effect with his nemesis.
9. Just get a gun and shoot each other in the back. The movie would be over in 10 minutes and there would be no need for tantalizing sabotages.
To conclude, this movie was made with the intention of "let's get in as many twists and turns possible" rather than "let's tell a good story with a twist".
To a great degree I suppose that is also true of magic as a performing art. The levitation trick or the sawing-a-woman-in-half bit may be eye-popping to one as a child, but eventually the magic of magic comes from learning the secret of the trick. The irony, of course, is that learning the secret usually destroys the magic. Knowledge is the natural enemy of illusion and magic (cinematic or sleight of hand) can only dazzle if it is so skillfully performed that the technique outweighs the mechanics. In short, achieving the "Wow!" before facing the question of "How?" THE PRESTIGE understands this, and yet it doesn't. It is, for most of the way, a flamboyant display of magician's showmanship, yet it builds up to a revelation of "How?" which comes off as something of a cheat. When the film gets around to revealing the secrets of its tricks, the reality seems far less credible than the illusion of supernatural power. The fake reality of illusion is explained with an even faker illusion of reality.
The film deals with two turn-of-the-century London magicians whose rivalry as competing showmen is fueled by ever-escalating acts of revenge. They strive to not just top each other as performing artists, but to sabotage each other as hated enemies. Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale play the competing wizards (Robert "The Great Danton" Angier and Alfred "The Professor" Borden), who form an emotional juggling act, constantly tossing back and forth the roles of villain and victim. Like a magical coin, sympathy for either man disappears and reappears at unexpected intervals. Likewise, director Christopher Nolan keeps all of his balls in the air, telling the story with flashbacks within flashbacks in a way that is not nearly as confusing as it could have been. All in all, a very intriguing concept for a movie.
Unfortunately, the filmmakers become would-be escape artists and place their film and the two protagonist into traps from which they can't seem to logically escape. Both magicians focus their attention on "The Transported Man" trick, which would appear to require the trickster to be in two places at once. But after promising not one, but two elaborate answers to how they did it, the film builds to a pair of shaggy dog endings, neither of which play fair with the audience. Alfred's secret seems so obvious in retrospect that viewers should have complete permission to slap themselves on their collective forehead for not seeing it coming a mile away. But the film cheats; revealing the secret early on by denying it as a possibility.
On the other hand, Angier's secret takes a totally unconvincing sci-fi twist that not only doesn't play fair with the concept of magic as the art of illusion, but also defies the basic laws of physics. The story doesn't just cheat, it tries to change the trick in the middle of the performance. You don't leave the film feeling amazed; you leave feeling vaguely insulted, like the master illusionist has played you for a chump.
Though lacking in humor (a vital distraction in creating illusion), THE PRESTIGE is a grandly played stunt, full of craftsmanship, showmanship and style. But it is like watching a magician who promises to produce a tiger out of thin air, but can only conjure up a kitten. The result isn't either "Wow!" or "How?" but "Huh?"
The 'miracle' invention that Tesla apparently provided Hugh Jackman's character, which allowed him to duplicate himself, is nowhere referenced in the movie. The ending is a cinematic equivalent of "then he got hit by a bus". In short, I think the audience was cheated. Apparently most of the people who commented on this movie didn't mind that, but I thought it lacked integrity.
Beautiful cinematography, tortured accents, and a conceit that's actual a deceit. Not recommended.
Beam me up Scotty :(