Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Written by Hombre Divertido

Though it has much Prestige, it is still extremely unsatisfying.

I cannot think of another occasion where seeing one film had made me wish I had reviewed another, but that is the case here. Seeing The Prestige made me wish I had not been too wrapped up in other projects, and thus unable to find the time to write up a review after seeing The Illusionist. We were graced with two period pieces on the subject of magicians this movie going season, and The Illusionist was much better than The Prestige.

In the Prestige, we are introduced to Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), both aspiring magicians. They, along with Angier's love Julia (Piper Perabo), are working for a professional magician while learning the craft. An accident occurs, Julia is killed, and Angier blames Borden. Borden and Angier become professional magicians respectively, and a war ensues not only as one attempts to better the other, but also as Angier seeks retribution for the death of Julia.

Ah, if the story had been told that simply. Instead the story jumps from one time period and location to another in an editing job worthy of Jason Voorhies. Even more disappointing is the payoff at the end, where our questions are answered in not only a disappointing fashion but with ridiculous explanations as well.

The Prestige has great qualities. The sets are wonderful, costumes excellent, effects leave you thinking that you’ve seen a magic trick, and not camera or computer magic, and the performances are top notch. Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe, the new assistant of Angier and eventual center of a lover triangle, is mesmerizing, and David Bowie gives a stoic performance as Tesla, the scientist from whom Angier seeks true magic. Michael Caine seems a bit confused in his role as the voice of reason, though it had more to do with the script than his performance.

It is the editing and direction that let us down here as the choice was made to tell the story in a way that leaves the audience to wonder if they missed a reel of the film somewhere in the 130 minutes that they did see.

Like an elaborate trick by a magician with great showmanship, most will like what they see here, but find themselves waiting for the payoff, or to use magician vernacular, the prestige, and be disappointed when it’s over as all they saw was a lot of misdirection and flair, but little substance.

Recommendation: Wait for both The Illusionist and The Prestige to come out on DVD and…well, you don’t need to be a magician to figure out which is the recommended rental.