Sunday 4 January 2015

The Prestige (2006)

I review Christopher Nolan’s 2006 film, The Prestige, featuring Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson. This thriller was also written by Jonathan Nolan.

Christopher Nolan is easily one of my Top 5 favourite Directors right now having given us an awesome movie after an awesome movie. However, despite that, so far, I haven’t got around to watching any of his pre-Batman films, but that changed when I was able to see The Prestige. And just like that, it’s now my third favourite Nolan film, behind Interstellar and The Dark Knight in terms of sheer awesomeness. In fact, little did I know that within 24 hours of writing my review of The Departed, where I labelled it as the best film of 2006, it would be beaten by this film that like all Nolan movies, manages to be unique in design and incredibly captivating.

In the wake of an illusion gone horribly wrong, two 19th century stage magicians are transformed from friend into foe. Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Rupert Angrier (Hugh Jackman) are pitted against each other as they attempt to keep outdoing one another with their various performances. The stakes raise as the film progresses, putting the lives of both men on the line, in something that manages to be incredibly unpredictable and incredibly gripping viewing. You can’t quite work out what’s going to happen next and the final twist will leave you breathless, awed and wanting to rewatch the film to see if you could spot all the clues leading up to the reveal. In that manner of speaking, The Prestige itself is very much like a good magic trick, and it never disappoints.

The cast are pretty good indeed, with several A-Listers included in the movie. Christian Bale and Michael Caine people will recognise from The Dark Knight Trilogy, and Caine himself is a Nolan regular with roles in both Inception and Interstellar as well. The Prestige is one of his more important roles in a Nolan film, and whilst he still doesn’t play as a major role as Bale and Jackman, it’s great to see more Caine there. Speaking of Bale and Jackman, as the two competing magicians, they put in some brilliant performances in their respective roles. Both work wonders as they attempt to pull trick after trick, and they really are the stars of the show. You’re not quite sure if you’re meant to be getting behind one man or the other, but its fun to watch them both pit their wits against each other as Nolan, and the actors makes both characters sympathetic to a certain extent.

As well as Caine, Jackman and Bale, The Prestige features some good actors and actresses in supporting roles. Scarlett Johansson stars as Olivia Wenscombe, Angrier’s supporting actress, and puts in a good performance. The other big names include artist David Bowie and Andy Serkis, in one of his roles where he isn’t playing a CGI character.

The film’s atmosphere is pretty great. Shot by Nolan’s regular cinematographer, Wally Pfister, the backdrop of Colorado and London are captured incredibly well, using the backdrop of Victorian London to great effect indeed. It’s a lot more complex than Nolan’s Batman films, and is certainly an example of why he’s probably better left to do movies outside of the superhero genre rather than within it. (Although saying that, all the Batman movies have been pretty good, so I wouldn’t mind him returning).

On the whole then, The Prestige is another excellent movie from Christopher Nolan and I have not been disappointed by what he has brought us so far.  If you’ve not seen this film already, prepare to have you mind blown. It’s excellent.

VERDICT: 9.5/10

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