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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Prestige

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Judy Thorburn

The Prestige

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"THE PRESTIGE" SUPERB DIRECTION OF MISDIRECTION

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

The Prestige is the second feature film to be released this year that has to do with the art of magic. I know it is only human nature to want to compare this film with the Illusionist, which came out earlier. But, let me inform you that although both are period pieces about magicians they are very different from each other in numerous ways. First off, The Illusionist is really a love story interweaved with magic, while The Prestige centers around two magicians so consumed by jealousy, obsession and revenge that love takes a backseat. The rest I leave to audiences to see for themselves. As for me, I really liked both films, which I recommend for their own merits. That settled, I can get on with my review.

Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan reunites with his Batman Returns star Christian Bale for another winning vehicle. To say when these two work together they create “magic” would certainly be applicable, especially in this case. Of course, since The Prestige is set in the world of magicians, it is best to pay close attention since the story structure unfolds like an astounding magic trick where twists and turns and misdirection play a key. To educate audiences on the matter of trick execution, we are told that all magic tricks consist of three parts. The first part, called the Pledge is where the magician shows you an ordinary object. The second act is the Turn, when the ordinary is made to do something extraordinary. But it is the final outcome, called the Prestige, where a shocking surprise is delivered, guaranteed to make audiences gasp in wonder. The same can be said about this marvelously executed and intricately woven movie.

The Prestige is set mostly in London during the Victorian era at the turn of the 20th century. It tells a story about charismatic American Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and cockney, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) who are educated in the craft of magic by working secretly as apprentices and audience plants for a popular stage magician (real life magic expert, Ricky Jay). Angier’s lovely wife Julia (Piper Perabo) also works with the magician, but openly as part of his stage act. Her role on stage consists of having her hands tied with rope by the two men who are called from the audience. She is then lowered into a water filled tank that is padlocked. One night tragedy strikes. Unable to free herself and escape from the knot that Borden was to have tied, Julia dies. Angier is devastated and holds his partner responsible for her death. His anger is escalated when he sees Borden living a happy life with his new wife (Rebecca Hall) and baby and is reminded of what he has lost.

Blame and the desire for vengeance sets in motion a bitter and deadly rivalry where the obsession to outdo each other with a bigger and better illusion goes beyond the limit of continuous acts of one-upmanship and sabotaging each other’s stage act. Lives are affected by their actions and it isn’t just their own.

The film opens with Borden on trial for Angier’s murder and then flashes back to unravel the thrilling story that is filled with mystery. When Borden gets popular for his act that includes a new illusion that has him miraculously transported from one area of the theatre to the next, Angier becomes jealous and determined to find out how he does it. He asks his curvaceous new assistant and lover Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) to go to Borden and make him believe she has left Angier in order to become his spy. But angry at being used as a pawn, the plan backfires and she falls in love with Borden.

If that sounds like another act of deceit, there are more to follow in the battle of wits and clever trickery. Other characters drawn into the scheme of things include illusion designer and engineer, Cutter (Michael Caine) who tells Angier how Borden does his trick using a double, and Nikola Tesla (David Bowie, who doesn’t look at all like the deceased real person), who is visited at his Colorado laboratory by a desperate Angier asking the brilliant scientist/inventor to build him a machine that would take Borden’s “Transported Man” to another level, so as to create the ultimate prestige.

There are so many surprising elements to the Prestige, but none that I care to divulge, so not to ruin it. But I can tell you, without giving anything away, that disguises and secrets come into play. The casting of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale couldn’t have been better as they are perfectly matched against each other. In taking on his role, Jackman proves that he is a versatile, strong actor able to go head to head with the consistently superb Bale. Both give equally powerful performances. Christopher Nolan once again comes to the plate pulling out all his best tricks as a director. This is his sixth film and he has never failed to impress me.

If you are like me, and love magic and illusions, get ready to sit back and watch another unfold right before your eyes. But like I said, play close attention to everyone and all that’s going on because like every grand illusion there are distractions. You will be surprised by the sudden revelation at the end, which fittingly lives up to the movie’s title. That’s the Prestige.