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The PrestigeMovie Review
by Georgette Tan
Genre: Drama / Fantasy / Sci-Fi
Director: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Rebecca Hall, Andy Serkis, Piper Perabo, David Bowie.
In the opening scene of The Prestige, Michael Caine's character Cutter explains magic to an attentive little girl:
"Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The first act is called "The Pledge"; The magician shows you something ordinary, but of course... it probably isn't. The second act is called "The Turn"; The magician makes his ordinary some thing do something extraordinary. Now if you're looking for the secret... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act called, "The Prestige"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you've never seen before."
The story begins with a trial.
Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is up for the murder of Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman). They use to be friends and partners. With Angier's flair for entertainment and Borden's genius in creating tricks, they could have been the greatest pairings in Victorian society, where magicians were revered.
But that was not to be. Their biggest trick as young magician apprentices takes a fatal turn, claiming the life of Angier's wife (Piper Perabo). Borden and Angier become lifelong enemies as a result, living only to outdo the other. Attending each other's shows with the intention of spying and the occasional sabotage are common tactics.
At some point, Borden leads the competition with his act 'The Transported Man', a trick that Angier is obsessed with learning for himself.
It's hard to say any more without giving away too much. Going into this movie spoiler-free will make it more enjoyable, unless you've read the novel by Christopher Priest. Then you'll just be comparing how it translates to the big screen.
The first thing you need to realize is that magicians are involved. Just as a magician strives to confound and dazzle, the movie takes very much the same path. Just when you thought it would go one way, it goes another. Just when you thought the trick is over, you turn around and find that the conclusion too was a trick.
The story bounces from one magician to the other, and in different times of their lives too, which may prove a bit confusing if you like your movies spoonfed to you.
Putting two big stars in one movie may seem a bit risky, but Bale and Jackman proved to be consummate professionals. It may be easy to compete since their characters are rivals in the same business, but the two play off each other without the egos present in their on-screen personalities.
Caine, whose character is the engineer behind the mechanics of Angier's acts, may remind some of us of Batman's butler Alfred. The women's roles reflect their characters in the movie - they're there, but their roles are secondary to the magic. They're just the women the big stars loved, lost, and used.
There's no doubt at all that this movie is a dark one, and I thought, quite deliciously disturbing in the end.
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