12/09/2006

The Prestige

If you have not yet seen the film, there may be some spoilers in here for you!
Because with the Prestige you're looking for the secret... but you won't find it because you're not really looking. You don't really want to know the secret... You want to be fooled.

Unfortunately there is not an Odeon in sight around Newport; which leaves us with the City Cinema (delivering only the mainstream) and the Cineworld. Never being to a Cineworld in the past I must say that I was extremely surprised at the layout and style; being very, very different to the more traditional design of Odeon’s. Hell I used a toilet with Emma Thompson’s name on the door!

It was also strange to see adverts different to those always featured at the Odeon; not to mention two 360 adverts, one for Gears and the Cops and Robbers one. Though I must say Cineworld suck with trailers! (Which in my opinion are one of the main reasons for watching films at a cinema; more than two trailers should be obligatory)

Being a considerable fan of Christopher Nolan from Memento and his previous team-up with Bale (and Caine) in Batman Begins, I thought it would make sense to go and see The Prestige, primarily as Nolan is really one of the few directors making good distinctive films of recent, that and so far Bale has never ceased to astound me.

The story follows the rivalry of two magicians -Alfred Borden (Bale) and Robert Angier (Jackman)- and the effect obsession has on many different people, as the two attempt to better each other in the discovery of the ‘best’ trick.
Very obvious to the film, are its recurring themes, rivalry is inherent throughout, with the main characters Angier and Borden, as well as Tesla (Bowie) and Edison, this rivalry also feeds off the central theme of obsession, this theme is exemplified through the character Chung Ling Soo, who was so dedicated to magic that he need put up an act for his whole life; only so that it would remain believable (and if that isn’t a bit obsessive I don’t know what is) this strongly links to Borden. Angier’s obsession leads to his abandonment of his life, similar to Tesla’s life story, and although it may be argued the film has too many themes going, most of those present only add to the film’s story.

The film; with a well rounded cast, boasted a large amount of non-Americans –though strangely only on the male side- in the supporting cast; which I find very welcoming from Christopher Nolan’s films. With the likes of Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine, as well as Andy Serkis and David Bowie the film has nothing short of a most excellent cast, and although I am not that big a fan of the brunt of the actors, I am warming to Michael Caine, and Hugh Jackman’s character was interestingly self-destructive. The same can be said for Bale’s who once again took his character completely seriously as well as fully encompassing himself in the role. Borden was, to say the least very interesting towards the middle of the film; when you begin to understand why he is always so indifferent; stoic at one part, then utterly charming the next, Bale plays the part extraordinarily.
Just thought I would also mention David Bowie who gave a rather interesting performance as Nikola Tesla.

Although I am a little unsure of Bale’s accent (I don’t believe I’ve ever heard him do cockney before) the same can be said for Bowie and Serkis’ equally distinctive accents, but saying this, none were so distracting enough to remove overall focus from the film; so they were not bad, just a little strange to hear.
I suppose I should also mention Scarlett Johansson, who had a small role in the film, nothing amazing though.

I absolutely loved the setting of the film –though of course integral to the novel and overall story- but then most period films are very enjoyable to watch, because if they get the mise-en-scene and the dialogue correct, the film can be the most believable in the world, and for this you also get really involved with the characters, not to mention the story.

If there is one thing present in all of Nolan’s films it’s his trademark non-linear narrative, and The Prestige is in no way different to that of Memento or Insomnia (or I am guessing Following). This of course left me to get completely confused and almost disorientated with the film. Wherein the actual scheme of what was going on left me bewildered; viewing one of the characters reading a journal of the other character, who was in turn, reading the previous character’s journal (which I think also makes little sense how I have written it), what really got me was trying to differentiate between past and present… which isn’t very good. But my sister tells me she was fine following the film; so it was just me.
But a non-linear storyline can also be much fun; most of this is had when trying to unravel exactly what has happened, while watching the story unfold before your eyes, by showing us the end and taking us back to the beginning.

I felt that cleverly a lot of tension was built in the film following Borden in jail, as with such a film -where you are required to feel some form of sympathy for the characters- there is most definitely a large expectation that Borden will actually escape; after all he is a magician.
If there’s one thing the film is not short of, it’s good quotes, not to mention the last line –as quoted at the beginning of my review- which is nothing bar awe inducing, I also adored the repeated lines throughout the film. “Are you looking closely”, and my personal favourite “No one cares about the man in the box, the man who disappears

Nolan’s loathing of special effects is a welcome opinion in my world of film, and The Prestige could have easily been full of special effects, thankfully those used were just Tesla’s lightning, and the double effect thing (to my belief). Basically everything present was required; there was no substituting special effects or action for story –yahoo!

When the film was over, I came out slightly confused, somehow I did not feel completely fulfilled, I suppose I felt that it was a tad anti-climatic, but the more I think about it; the film was not about revealing some big unexpected twist at the end, but allowing you to unravel the events, and comprehend what exactly has been going on.

The Prestige is a hard film to peg to a particular audience, similarly I cannot see everyone watching Memento, but the audience at our cinema was particularly varied, so it depends on the person I suppose. As long as you have an attention span, which does not crave action every five minutes, this should be the film for you, an engaging storyline and an amazing cast embodying fascinating characters; a good piece of cinema to rival a lot of the crap getting released at this time of year.

I could literally go on and on about the film, but I feel I’ve said enough

Cptalbertwesker Rating – 7 ½ /10
Don’t get me wrong, The Prestige was a very strange breath of fresh air, but I couldn’t help the strange feeling about it once I left.

So now I simply await Nolan’s return in the Dark Knight!

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