The Prestige (2006)

Genre(s): Crime / Drama / Fantasy / Mystery / Science Fiction / Thriller
Buena Vista || PG13 - 128 minutes - $29.99 || February 20, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-02-18


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer(s): Christopher Priest (novel), Jonathan Nolan (screenplay) and Christopher Nolan (screenplay)
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, Piper Perabo, David Bowie, Andy Serkis


Theatrical Release Date: October 20, 2006


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • The Director's Notebook: 5 Featurettes
  • The Art of The Prestige


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, French, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Premise (from DVD back cover): Two young, passionate magicians, Robert Angier (Jackman), a charismatic showman, and Alfred Borden (Bale), a gifted illusionist, are friends and partners until one fateful night when their biggest trick goes terribly wrong. Now the bitterest of enemies, they will stop at nothing to learn each otherís secrets. As their rivalry escalates into a total obsession full of deceit and sabotage, they risk everything to become the greatest magician of all time.

I remember thinking that this was all too predictable after seeing The Prestige in the theater and unfortunately, it seemed the Nolan Brothers were more impressed with the reveal than I was. That said, I must say the second viewing revealed a deeper layer that I have come to appreciate more. Itís difficult to explain here without spoiling anything, but I will say that the entire movie fits well with the premise of a magic trick.

The Prestige might not be a great film but there was certainly more to it than upon first glance. If you were like me and was disappointed given the talent, give this another chance. Bale and Jackman give suitable performances and even Scarlett Johansson, in a thankless role, is also fine.

Hereís a portion of my original review. Outside of the overarching angle that I missed before, my feelings about the film remain the same. Itís still a slight disappointment yet this second viewing did open my eyes more to the other elements the Nolan Brothers put in here.

Original Review
Since 2005ís Batman Begins, Iíve taken quite an interest in Christian Baleís career even backtracking to some of his other roles like the racist prick in Shaft or his truly disturbing physical performance in The Machinist, so it was with anticipation that I looked forward to The Prestige. Bale re-teams with his Begins co-star Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan and add in more talent with Hugh Jackman and Scarlett Johansson, and while overall I found it fascinating, I still was more than slightly disappointed with this endeavor.

The usual style from co-writer/director Christopher Nolan is present, going back and forth through time, but I actually think itís used more effectively here than in Batman Begins and even Memento. The difference between The Prestige and those two, however, is they both provided some emotional depth that sorely was missed. I remembered sitting through the film and while I was in awe of the two leads in Bale and Jackman, I had a hard time actually liking either character.

Probably the redeeming quality, making The Prestige worthy of viewing, is several elements. One, the aforementioned performances by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, both of whom while didnít hit it out of the park with expressions and such, but instead they had more screen presence or weight than in any duo Iíve seen in a while. The second is Christopher Nolanís actual direction and style, which in itself is its own magic trick. He masterfully sets up the dueling magicians, even when theyíre not in the same scene (utilizing their journals), this ingeniously provides a cool way of jumping in time without completely confusing the audience.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

The Directorís Notebook (19:30) - The sole extra contains 5 featurettes: Conjuring the Past (5:10), The Visual Maze (3:28), Metaphors of Deception (3:26), Tesla: The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century (2:26) and Resonances (1:03) as well as a introduction (3:46). Between the featurettes, you get a glimpse at how Nolan made the movie and some comments from the cast and crew talking about Nolan and his style. Itís not a bad extra, but as the only one, it doesnít cover enough material.

The only other feature is The Art of The Prestige which is merely a set of 4 photo galleries.

Shame they didnít include a commentary from real magicians (Ricky Jay anyone?), although itís not surprising Christopher Nolan once again doesnít include one as it seems heís done doing them (after providing them for Memento and Insomnia).



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The Prestige is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35 OAR. The picture looks like it did in the theater and showcases Nolanís style and darker tone. I didnít notice any grain or dirt so this gets a perfect score.

The film features the standard Dolby Digital 5.1 mix which is suitable for the movie. There are also French and Spanish Dolby 5.1 tracks as well.



.::OVERALL::.

The Prestige may not be up to par with Nolanís previous releases, but it still is a worthy effort. The story might have its share of problems when it comes to surprises but the overall story makes up for some of the faults. The DVD, however, is not well packed with a 20-minute featurette and a photo gallery. Iím sure Nolan is in that group that the film speaks for itself (like Spielberg) but I liked hearing his thoughts on previous efforts, so itís too bad he has seemed to stop recording them.