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March 31, 2012

4

The Prestige

by Franz Patrick


Prestige, The (2006)
★★ / ★★★★

Robert (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred (Christian Bale) were gifted magicians. They used to work together up until Alfred accidentally caused the death of Robert’s wife during a performance. Her death triggered Robert’s obsession to have a better career than Alfred, a difficult feat because his rival could effortlessly think outside the box, a natural magician, although he lacked a bit of drama in order to establish a solid rising action and truly engage the audience during his performances. As the two attempted to create more complex tricks, everything else in their lives began to fall apart. Alfred’s wife (Rebecca Hall) became unhappy with their marriage and Robert’s lover (Scarlett Johansson) began to feel used when Robert asked her to spy on his former colleague. Directed by Christopher Nolan, “The Prestige” was a curious film for me because no matter how many times I watched it, I failed to see why it’s loved by practically everyone I know. I admired the performances. Bale was wonderful as a family man who was completely invested in his craft. Every time he spoke about magic and being on stage, I felt passion in his eyes and the subtle intensity of the varying intonations in his voice. Jackman was equally great as a man who was never satisfied. I felt sad for his character because despite his many achievements, what he truly wanted was an impossibility–for his wife to live again. The dark hunger consumed him and he became unable to question his motives or if vengeance was even worth it. The story was interesting because its core was about how being a magician defined a soul. Its labyrinthine storytelling, jumping between past and present, kept my attention because it was like solving a puzzle. However, the picture committed something I found very distasteful. That is, when Robert’s greatest trick, with the help of a scientist named Tesla (David Bowie), was finally revealed, it was borderline science fiction. Imagine a magician who, using a white cloth, made a pigeon disappear right before our eyes. We wait in heavy anticipation for him to bring back the pigeon. Once the “Tada!” moment came, what laid before us was not a pigeon. What appeared was a blue mouse or something not similar to a pigeon at all. The magic trick had turned into a joke. That was how I felt when all cards were laid on the table. Some critical pieces made no sense. I felt cheated because I had the impression that the magic trick was supposed to be grounded in reality. It wasn’t and, I must admit, I felt angry for spending the time in trying to figure out the secret. “The Prestige” wore out its welcome but was kept afloat by its morally complex characters and their willingness to destroy each other for the sake of nothing.

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4 Comments Post a comment
  1. Mar 31 2012

    What I gathered from your break down of the movie is you don’t like plot twists, which is alright but you may want to steer clear of most movies. People want to be surprised in curious and other worldly ways. That’s what makes an audience gasp, they want to see the blue moose replace the pigeon. Otherwise they would’ve just gone to something based in the real world. Movies arent meant to be figured out, their meant to be enjoyed.

    Reply
    • Mar 31 2012

      The premise of the film is magic //tricks// which is different than actual magic. On that note, I felt that the film cheated the audience.

      Thanks for the comment despite the condescending tone.

      Reply
  2. Paragraph Film Reviews
    Apr 18 2012

    Awesome! Don’t think there’s many of us in the ‘Meh’ camp, but I am well and truly with you on this. It’s just far too slow a burner, and simple a story to require 130 mins. Hack it down to 90, BOOYA. I did like the ending, but for me it was too little too late.

    Reply
    • Apr 20 2012

      Good idea. Cutting it down, I think, might’ve helped. I liked all the actors and their acting but no matter how many times I watch it, the ending lets me down without fail. I just felt like it cheated because the big reveal wasn’t loyal to its realistic, sometimes emotionally engaging, premise.

      Reply

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