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The Prestige

Director Christopher Nolan's dark 2006 thriller about the fierce rivalry between two magicians.

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Abra-Cadabra! Underrated Yet Truly Amazing! "The Prestige" Revisited!

  • May 15, 2009
  • by
The Prestige is probably one of the most underrated films of this this past decade.  With such a great cast that included Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson, this great drama/thriller did not get all the attention it deserved.  This probably had a lot to do with the fact that The Illusionist was released around the same time of The Prestige.  One thing is for sure, this film was pure magic.

The Prestige follows two magicians, Alfred (Bale) and Robert (Jackman) who start off together is a magic troop until Alfred unintentionally causes the death of Robert's wife during a water chamber trick, causing a major rift between the two.  Alfred tries to get a solo career started under the moniker, The Professor, while also taking a wife and having a daughter.  Robert also starts a solo career with the help of his old friend Cutter (Caine) and his assistant Olivia (Johannson) using the stage name, The Great Danton.  Both magicians fire shots at each, in the case of Robert quite literally when he shoots a loaded gun at Alfred during his performance of the bullet catch, costing him two fingers.  Alfred takes his revenge when he rigs Robert's vanishing bird cage, greatly damaging his reputation.  When Alfred reveals his Transported Man trick, Robert and Olivia are astonished and Robert obsessively tries to better the trick, causing a rift between the two.  With his obsession taking over him, how far will The Great Danton go to best The Professor? 

Part of what made The Prestige so amazing was the acting between Mr. Jackman and Mr. Bale.  They both really let you believe that they were enemies and rival magicians.  Even though Hugh Jackman was probably meant to be the lead, Christian Bale really does out perform him, but Bale tends to do that in a lot of films so...  The Prestige is also complimented with the supporting roles of Scarlett Johansson and Michael Caine.  I think Caine and Bale work so well together.  I believe they had worked on Batman Begins before this film so they already knew each other, but what a great team they are.  This is actually pretty funny since the two don't work together in this film nearly as much as Caine works with Jackman, but the scenes they do have together, you can just tell that they have great chemistry.  Having said that, Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine work very well together as well.  Then there is Scarlett Johansson who in my mind can do no wrong.  I don't know if I have seen a movie that I didn't like her in.

The magic that is shown in The Prestige is also what makes this film so fun because it is very believable.  There is no "real" magic in this film per say, but even the "cloning" scenes are explained by Tesla (David Bowie) scientifically.  It's pure movie fun though; the bullet trick, which doesn't end up going so well for Alfred (Bale) or the bird trick which doesn't go so well for Robert (Jackman).  Behind all the magic though, there is a great story about a feud between two great magicians who end up taking their rivalry to a very dangerous place.  With such great acting throughout the movie, it can be very easy to let the spectacular cinematography and filming style of The Prestige take a backseat, but don't let it because this movie is just as entertaining visually as it is acting wise.

If you haven't seen The Prestige in theaters or you didn't see it because you saw the The Illusionist instead, this is a must rent and in my eyes a must own for any fan of Director Christopher Nolan (Memento, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight).  films about magic and dark magic were really big way back when and for a while they have taken a back seat.  It's a shame that after The Prestige, not many magic films have been released.  However, this wonderful film is a supplement to that as it is very re-watchable.  The Prestige is available on Blu-ray at for 23.99     5/5!

The Prestige

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February 18, 2010
Nice review! My friends had mixed feelings about this movie but for me (and another bud) it was real good. This was a little overshadowed by the Illusionist, but I thought they were both were great movies.
May 16, 2009
I may forgive this film one day, but right now its the target of my wrath. I didn't like for much the same reason that PAN'S LABYRINTH was hated by many who went in expecting a fantasy film and wound up with something else. This was a science fiction film that pretended to be something else. Now I love science fiction and I love being surprised, but I don't like being misled by advertising anymore than anyone else does and in this case it clouded my judgment. One day maybe, but not right now. I've seen it twice.
May 16, 2009
That's funny, because I do consider "Pan's Labyrinth" to be a fantasy film albeit an extraordinary and unconventional one. However, with this film I didn't feel mislead at all. What you see is what you get. A science-fiction/fantasy/period piece about two egotistical illusionists out to one up the other resulting in tragedy.
May 16, 2009
It wasn't advertised as science fiction. And the people who hated PAN'S were expecting something having a whole lot less to do with the war.
May 16, 2009
I too loved this film. Nolan is really becoming our generation's Hitchcock. :)
More The Prestige reviews
review by . July 01, 2011
Warner Bros. DVD review
I've not much to type of Christoper Nolan's finest accomplishment that hasn't been stated before. At this juncture, it wouldn't be unfair for the Nolans to abandon non-linear plotting; they've exploited the conceit so thoroughly here in conjunction with numerous interrelated visual metaphors in order to fully explore a variety of Victorian themes: the thrill of technology-driven entrepreneurship during the onset of modernity, science as magic explained and the nature of dualistic …
review by . December 30, 2009
A mind bending and twist a minute thriller....
I've seen some movies that try to blow your mind, I've seen some movies that try to challenge you and make you believe in the unimaginable. The Prestige does both, it challenges you while making you think you know what is going on and just when you have it all figured out it throws a Monkey wrench into your plans and leaves you totally baffled and dumbfounded even after the ending, so the real question is what is true in this film? and what is a lie?         The Prestige …
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A few flaws, however a great , great film. Chris Nolan has yet to make a bad film. Christian Bale is oscar-worthy is this movie.
review by . September 09, 2009
Two rival magicians in the late 1800’s.  Each trying to sabotage each other, outdo each other, and decode the secrets of each others tricks.  The twists and turns in this movie never seem to end.  The story even brings in Houdini’s water closet escape trick as well as the great scientist Tesla.  The story does exaggerate a lot about Tesla but it seems to work in this film.   The acting is first class and Michael Caine puts in another great supporting spot.  …
review by . January 13, 2008
Pros: Great story-line and performances; outstanding direction.     Cons: Hard to wrap your mind around at first...     The Bottom Line: In the final analysis The Prestige is a complicated intelligent tale that genuinely beguiles and entertains.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. According to The Prestige (2006) there is difference between a magician and a wizard; the former entertains with gimmickry, …
review by . April 18, 2007
There were many surprises at this year's Academy Awards. One of the biggest was the absence of nominations for several films, most noticeably this one. Containing no sex, no nudity, no bad language, no gore, no grand action scenes, minimal comedy, a non-descript sountrack, and only several seconds of violence, this movie has none of the hallmarks of a top movie. But a top movie it is; it sat atop the box office charts for a month and everyone who has seen it comes away impressed. This is one of …
review by . April 17, 2007
This movie has certainly captured the art of magic, its complexities and wonder. As two friends' different philosophies on magic set tensions in motion, it is a tragic death that forever puts a wedge between them. A rivalry ensues between the more penetrating Borden (Bale) and the showman Angiers (Jackman). With three different time lines moving all at once through most of the movie, there's really never a moment's boredom. This storytelling is efficient and compelling. The characters are rich--they …
review by . March 31, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Probably the single most...different movie plot I've ever seen.     Cons: Sometimes hard to follow the heavy English accents     The Bottom Line: Don't look away...     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie's plot. Are you watching closely?      I’d heard all sorts of good things about The Prestige so one day when my mother and I were out running errands, we decided to pop into the …
review by . March 29, 2007
Two rival magicians (Jackman and Bales) in the late 1800's. Each trying to sabotage each other, outdo each other, and decode the secrets of each others tricks. The twists and turns in this movie never seem to end. The story even brings in Houdini's water closet escape trick as well as the great scientist Tesla. The story does exaggerate a lot about Tesla but it seems to work in this film.    The acting is first class and Michael Caine puts in another great supporting spot. Scarlett …
review by . March 17, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Outstanding performances, very tightly controlled story and imagery      Cons: One romp into the unreal that is a little hard to accept      The Bottom Line: One of the best DVD's I've seen in a long time. Worth the time and effort (attention is required).      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      The Prestige (latest movie by the Nolan brothers who gave …
About the reviewer
Julian Brown ()
Hi, my name is Julian Brown. I currently write for The Brotherly Game, a local Philadelphia soccer website where I cover the US Women's National Team and the local WPS Philadelphia Independence. I … more
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About this movie


The Prestige represents the second film that Christopher Nolan directed that Christian Bale starred in; the first was Batman Begins. 

Christian Bales character in The Prestige was named Alfred.  Alfred is the name of the Michael Canes character in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.  Cane has co-starred with Bale in all three of these films, coincidentally directed by the same director of all three, Christopher Nolan. 

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