Release Date: October 20th, 2006 by Touchtone Pictures.
The Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, Samantha Mahurin, Andy Serkis, David Bowie.
Directed by Christopher Nolan.
BASIC PREMISE: In the 19th Century, Alfred (Bale), a magician on death row, recalls how his rivalry with another magician, Robert (Jackman), led to his murder.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: It’s impossible to watch The Prestige without recalling the far superior film The Illusionist. Both films have a terrific cast, rely on a complex plot with some twists, but, in this film, the twists simply feel too gimmicky. Robert feels angry that his wife (Perabo) drowns during a magic trick because he tied a difficult knot for her to get out of. He also expresses jealousy when Alfred, a competing magician, gets more attention from fans—particularly from a supernatural act (not magic!) involving his transportation from one side of the stage to another. Of course, Robert tries to perform the same trick, but doesn’t have the capabilities, so he uses a double. Michael Caine plays Robert’s mentor, but he doesn’t have enough material to stand-out like he usually does. Scarlett Johansson shows up as a Robert’s lover. The screenplay by co-writers Christopher Nolan and his brother, Jonathan, feels too by-the-numbers, contrived and doesn’t have enough suspense—especially because you already know who killed Robert. The few twists in the third act seem tacked-on and quite headache-inducing. On top of that, the film runs nearly 2 hours and 10 minutes, often drags and overstays its welcome.
SPIRITUAL VALUE: None is required or desired.
INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: Contrived, formulaic and gimmicky.
NUMBER OF TIMES I CHECKED MY WATCH: 6
IN A NUTSHELL: Despite a stellar cast, the plot feels too contrived, formulaic and gimmicky.
RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: VHS/DVD
The "P" Menu