This is a great movie featuring gifted actors and a gifted director.
I wish there would have been more featurettes focusing on magicians.
Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are great friends in The Prestige. They work together as magicians, each one complementing the other. Then one night, a trick goes terribly wrong and Angier vows to get revenge on Borden. Once that is exacted, we see these two men going after one another's secrets in the most sly of ways. Their goal is to constantly one up each other until one day Borden performs a trick that Angier cannot believe. Determined to find out more about it, Angier procures his journal and this sets him on an adventure that gives him both more and less than he bargained for.
Told in a nonlinear fashion which begins with Borden being put in jail for killing Angier, The Prestige is one of the most engaging films to come to screens in a long time. This film examines magic, it shows us how certain tricks are done, but the whole time you are watching the movie you come to realize that a magic trick is being played on you as a viewer. Filled with rich performances from Jackman, Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine and others, The Prestige is easily one of the best films of the year.
The Director's Notebook
Comprised of 5 featurettes, I sadly felt a little letdown by this section. With titles like "Conjuring the Past," "Tesla: The Man Who Invented The Twentieth Century," and "Metaphors of Deception," I thought Christopher Nolan was going to take us deeper into this film. Unfortunately, these featurettes seem like they are little more than EPK pieces to compliment this movie. Sure, it was nice to hear about how they achieved the look of this film, and it was great learning about Tesla, but I wanted to see tricks... I wanted more magic.
The Art of The Prestige Gallery
There are a bevy of images from this film to scroll through. They are broken up into sections like "Film," "Behind the Scenes" and "Costumes and Sets." These are fun to look at, but galleries sometimes seem like cop-outs to me. They seem so easy to put together and rather than look at these galleries, I would simply like to watch the movie again. Judge for yourselves, but ultimately the bonus features were a somewhat of a letdown.
Widescreen (2.35:1) - Enhanced for 16x9 Televisions. This film looked great in the theater and it looked exceptional on DVD. My biggest regret is that I didn't screen it on a better TV. The look of this film is so strong and so much a part of the subject matter it is dealing with, that if any of that was compromised on DVD it could really be detrimental to this film. That said, this movie's transfer was very crisp and it makes me wish I had a next generation DVD player so that I could see this film in an even better form.
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. The audio on this film was very good, but this is a rare movie (for me), in that I was more concerned with the visuals than with what the characters are saying. This could also be Christopher Nolan's gift as a director because nothing feels stodgy or forced, yet this movie looked just as good as other period type films. Some people may have wanted more exposition, but The Prestige is moody, mixing music and images in the best way.
Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, and Christian Bale are showcased on this smokey cover that looks similar to the one sheet that was used for this film's theatrical run. The back features a succinct description of this show, a Bonus Features/technical specs listing, some pictures of the cast and a cast list. For some reason I feel that this packaging could have had more mystery behind it. Maybe they are saving that for a special edition that will contain some magic tricks?
Even though I figured out one half of The Prestige's magic trick 20 minutes before the movie ended, I still loved this film dearly. As I am not the kind of person that watches movies with an eye toward figuring them out, I became totally engaged in this film. I came to it sick, I was tired, I was sitting in a theater that was crowded, and I managed to block all of that out and completely get lost in everything that this movie was putting across. In addition to that, I was so intrigued by all the magic being done in the film, that I bought a set of tricks for myself and I am currently studying the craft when I can.
Another aspect of this movie that I think can really engage viewers is this idea of the magicians living for their tricks. These guys are such a special group of people. I say this because of how they live their lives. They refuse to explain how their tricks are done. They are usually highly intelligent. And lastly, they always seem to be looking for ways to improve their craft. Which in a lot of ways is exactly what The Prestige feels like.
This film is made by one of the world's best filmmakers, it stars many of our finest actors, and at all times they seem to be trying to perfect what is they are doing in this film.
The Prestige was released October 19, 2006.