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Christopher Nolan
Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, David Bowie, Rebecca Hall, Samantha Mahurin, Andy Serkis
Writing Credits:
Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan, Christopher Priest (novel)

A Friendship, That Became a Rivalry ... A Rivalry, That Became a Battle.

From acclaimed filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins), comes a mysterious story of two magicians whose intense rivalry leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy full of obsession, deceit and jealousy with dangerous and deadly consequences.

From the time that they first met as young magicians on the rise, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) were competitors. However, their friendly competition evolves into a bitter rivalry making them fierce enemies-for-life and consequently jeopardizing the lives of everyone around them. Full of twists and turns, The Prestige is set against the backdrop of turn-of-the-century London and the exceptional cast includes two-time Oscar winner Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie.

Box Office:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend
$14.801 million on 2281 screens.
Domestic Gross
$53.082 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.35:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 2/20/2007

• “The Art of The Prestige: The Cinematic Sleight of Hand of Christopher Nolan” Featurettes
• “The Art of The Prestige” Galleries
• Sneak Peeks


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.

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The Prestige (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 16, 2007)

Hot on the heels of the similarly themed The Illusionist, 2006’s The Prestige takes us to late 19th century England. During his magic act, Robert “The Great Danton” Angier (Hugh Jackman) dies and authorities arrest Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) in his murder. Illusion designer John Cutter (Michael Caine) implicates Borden and relates elements of the competition between the pair.

From there we hit flashbacks to see aspects of their interaction and issues. We see their rise through the ranks as their relationship. Matters go sour when Angier’s wife Julia (Piper Perabo) dies during a trick and he blames Borden. This sparks attempts at revenge and other complications as they attempt to sabotage each other and get the upper hand.

During any discussion of The Prestige, it becomes difficult to avoid spoilers. Indeed, the movie throws quite a few twists at us, so many that I find it tough to chat about the flick and not refer to any of these. Suffice it to say that the film attempts to catch us off-guard many times.

Does it succeed? Not really. Most of the twists can be discerned well before they occur, so not many of them really take us by surprise. In a way, they have an effect opposite what the filmmakers desired. Rather than immerse us in a world packed with secrets and deception, we feel a little bored once the story formally reveals the twists.

Don’t get me wrong - The Prestige doesn’t telegraph its hidden elements in a truly blatant way. I just think that it makes too many of them too obvious for most of them to pay off in the end. What should be a grand finale finishes with something of a fizzle.

Despite that problem, The Prestige manages to keep our attention for its two-plus-hours. Unlike The Illusionist’s love triangle, this flick’s tale of revenge and obsession grabs onto the viewer and makes sure that we don’t worry too much about the various predictable twists. Although we can see these coming, at least we enjoy the ride, something I found it more difficult to say for Illusionist.

I also think that The Prestige suffers from fewer plot holes than its competition. I’m sure you’ll find some here, but at least these didn’t preoccupy me when the movie ended. I left The Illusionist with more questions than answers, a matter that failed to repeat itself for The Prestige.

Both movies boast excellent casts, though The Prestige wins in that category as well, especially since most of them provide very good performances. Scarlett Johansson seems surprisingly bland as the assistant who works with both magicians, but the other actors offer nice turns. I especially liked David Bowie’s insightful and low-key turn as Tesla, as he makes a lot from his brief moments onscreen.

The Prestige doesn’t compare terribly favorably with director Christopher Nolan’s better works; I don’t think it’ll make anyone forget Memento or Batman Begins. Nonetheless, it offers an entertaining ride despite its flaws.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus C

The Prestige appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. From start to finish, the movie offered a terrific transfer.

At all times, sharpness seemed very positive. Virtually no instances of softness manifested themselves throughout the flick. Instead, the image remained tight and precise. I saw no signs of jagged edges or moiré effects, and edge enhancement was minimal. Source flaws remained absent, as no defects marred the presentation.

As one might expect from a period piece of this sort, the movie’s palette remained subdued. The image took on a semi-golden “old-time” look that fit the material. Within those constraints, the colors seemed strong. Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows appeared smooth and easily visible. This was a solid image.

While not as impressive, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of The Prestige satisfied. Only a few sequences really brought the mix to life. Whenever the electrical machines appeared, they added very nice range to the soundfield and immersed the viewer. Otherwise, the track usually stayed with general atmosphere.

Audio quality seemed positive. Music was lush and lively, and effects followed suit. Those elements appeared crisp and dynamic throughout the film. Speech was concise and natural, as the lines betrayed no edginess or other flaws. Overall, the soundtrack presented a good sense of the environment.

When we look at the extras, we find a collection of featurettes under the banner of The Director’s Notebook: The Cinematic Sleight of Hand of Christopher Nolan. Taken together, these fill a total of 19 minutes and 26 seconds. The mix movie shots, clips from the set, and interviews. We hear from Nolan, novelist Christopher Priest, production designer Nathan Crowley, director of photography Wally Pfister, costume designer Joan Bergin, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, and actors Hugh Jackman, Rebecca Hall, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Piper Perabo, and Michael Caine. The pieces look at the era in which the film takes place and related elements, sets, locations and production design, cast and costumes, camerawork and lighting, script adaptation issues, some facts about Tesla, and finishing thoughts.

As a collection of short pieces, “Notebook” can be somewhat disjointed at times. However, it gets into the material with reasonable depth – at least for such a short show. I’d have preferred something longer, though, and the lack of an audio commentary is a disappointment. “Notebook” is a nice teaser but not much more than that.

The Art of The Prestige splits into four separate galleries. We get collections devoted to “Film” (25 stills), “Behind the Scenes” (21), “Costumes and Sets” (25) and “Poster Art” (9). All are moderately interesting, though only “Art” – which showcases posters seen in the movie – becomes genuinely fun.

The DVD opens with a few ads. We get promos for Ratatouille. The Queen, and Déjà Vu. These also appear in the set’s Sneak Peeks domain along with clips for Renaissance, Roger Corman on DVD and Blu-Ray discs.

Despite plot twists that don’t come as surprises, The Prestige provides an entertaining tale of obsession and revenge. It mixes time periods and characters smoothly to keep us involved. The DVD presents excellent picture, good audio and some average extras. This one falls into “rental” territory.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4 Stars Number of Votes: 28
4 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

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