Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson
Synopsis: In Victorian England, two rival stage magicians compete to create the best illusion.
When I look at Christopher Nolan’s filmography, I am always surprised to find this film there. It’s not that I don’t know Christopher Nolan directed and wrote this movie, it’s that I always forget that he did those things. When I think of his films, humungous box office smashes such as the Dark Knight Trilogy and Inception come to mind. It’s never this film that I think about. Re-watching this movie, I kind of figured out why that was: it’s a lot less flashy than Nolan’s other work. I don’t mean that it’s less impressive in content. I mean that it’s got less of the stuff that audiences seem to like in his movies: fighting, explosions, and Joseph Gordon Levitt in a tailored suit…..drool. The Prestige is more of a stylish and moody analysis of revenge and rivalry. That may not sound overly exciting but this film as at its core something that wins audiences over: magic.
Everyone loves magic, I am sure of it. For me, I was always drawn to the magicians who understood that magic is as much about theatricality as it is about mystery and wowing audiences. Can you blame me for liking theatricality in my magic shows? I grew up watching this bad ass mo fo:
The great thing about The Prestige is that Nolan understands that style plays an important role in magic shows and performance art in general. As a result, the production design is top notch. It kind of has a “masked magician meets upscale Victorian whore house” vibe. Basically, it’s how I want my future bedroom to look. The film also manages to catch the beauty of the American west and there are some stunning shots of (what I assume is) Colorado. The result is that you can’t stop looking at the screen. However, when the movie ends, you might want to hide your wallet or credit card to avoid an online spending spree that results in you buying useless shit like ornate bird cages and devices invented by Nikola Tesla.
On the down side, this is a film that requires a lot of attention from the audience, which can be hard to give if you’re stoned. The film’s opening sentence (“Are you watching closely?”) essentially acts an invitation for the audience to try and figure out the twist before the end. All the clues are given away during the course of the movie but they’re hard to pick up on. Only the diligent will figure it out. If you haven’t figured the twist out by the time the film comes to an end, you might feel a little bit cheated because it’s actually brilliantly simple and kind of obvious. Then again, maybe that’s what is so good about it because mixed in with all the Tesla magic is a very simple and effective illusion.
Another downside to this movie is that none of the actors can seem to nail a British accent…even Christian Bale, who is practically English. It was so bad, I even started to have doubts about the authenticity of Michael Caine’s accent. I don’t know why the accents were so bad in this movie. I’ve seen some of the actors pull of good British accents in other movies (for example, Johansson in Under the Skin), but here it felt like they were doing some kind of parody. I’m fine with the idea of a parody of British people but The Prestige could not have been a parody because it didn’t have the teeth thing down.
However, these criticisms don’t dull The Prestige’s positive aspects. At the end of the day, this is still a fun movie that keeps its audience on its toes thanks to a satisfying blend of style and mystery.
- Very stylish.
- Fascinating film for people who enjoy magic shows.
- DAVID BOWIE!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHH. And this time he’s not wearing his codpiece.
- Eye candy for every kind of person.
- The accents! They burn my ears!!!!
- A little too long and drawn out.
- Ending can feel a little flat.
This is the sort of film made for people who like stylish noodle scratchers. In that sense, it was a very good film to watch while stoned as it satisfied my cravings for visual beauty and challenging narratives. While I don’t believe that this is Nolan’s best film, I must admit that it is still a very fine film and one he should be proud of.