Thursday, November 8, 2007

No Prestige

Christopher Nolan, Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johanssen, and David Bowie. That's all the advertising the Prestige really needed, or so you would have thought. It more or less flopped in the wake of the Illusionist, which featured Ed Norton, Jessica Biel, Paul Giamatti, and Rufus Sewell. Two beautifully pedigreed magician films. I liked the Illusionist quite a bit, but I wasn't throwing bouquets at it. Now, Prestige... aimed higher and fell harder, I think. It might have been more interesting if I hadn't figured out the movie less than halfway through, which left me sitting hopefully on my futon, waiting for some crazy other twist that I hadn't figured out. There wasn't one. The title of my post comes from the formula for illusions given in the film, which says that the setup is the pledge, the disappearance is the turn, but that the trick is nothing without that final reappearance, the prestige. Well, this movie tried to follow that formula, but if you know what the prestige is and the whole movie is about showing you how it happens, then where's the magic?

Probably in the character development, which it could have used a touch more of. The acting was fine, but you basically have to take it on trust that Hugh Jackman's wife's death precipitates a lifelong obsession; it's not developed in any interesting way. Oh, and not to be snippy, but I'd like to see Scarlett Johanssen sharpen up those British consonants a bit more in The Other Boleyn Girl, in which she's playing the eponymous heroine.

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