Plot: Robert (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred (Christian Bale) are assistants to a well known magician, helping with menial tasks and posing as plants in the audience, while Robert’s wife Julia (Piper Perabo) is also a part of the show. The two have a rivalry of sorts, as Alfred is a more skilled magician, while Robert has a better sense of showmanship. A routine trick done countless times takes a tragic turn when Julia drowns during a water escape, with Robert blaming Alfred for her death. This escalates the rivalry, with both men going out on their own as performers and trying to sabotage one another, with brutal results for both men. But when Alfred surfaces with an unbelievable trick called The Transported Man, Robert is overwhelmed with jealousy and becomes obsessed with uncovering the secret. Will he ever learn the truth and if so, will he be consumed in the process?
Entertainment Value: The Prestige is a highly polished, technical marvel, a movie that looks beautiful and builds some impressive atmosphere. The movie itself tells us about the three stages to a magic trick, the pledge, the turn, and the prestige, which is also how this narrative is structured. And Christopher Nolan is able to deliver the pledge and turn with great skill, conjuring this bleak, but passionate rivalry and love of magic, but he is unable to give us a satisfying prestige. This feels like a magician has built up his trick with immense showmanship and lured audiences to the edge of their seats, only to choke at the reveal. But I find this to be true of a lot of Nolan’s movies, as they often show incredible technical craftsmanship, but lack a sense of heart or depth. I still think The Prestige is a good movie, as the journey is just as important as the destination and the ride to that finish is a fun one. The visuals are remarkable, the tension is thick, and the production values are impeccable. I loved Christian Bale shouting all of his lines, while David Bowie is a memorable presence as Tesla. The cast also includes Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo, and Scarlett Johansson, so there’s a lot of big names on deck here. In the end, The Prestige is all style and not much substance, but it is still well made and fun to watch.
No nakedness. Just some beautiful women in magician’s assistant outfits, but that’s all she wrote here. No real bloodshed is presented, aside from some quick, non graphic gun shots and a couple sad scenes of bird abuse. A few disturbing moments and you do see the aftermath of Alfred’s hand injuries, but again, never graphic in nature. The dialogue here is fine, very melodramatic and over the top, centering on a silly rivalry between the two leads. Jackman keeps things mostly reined in, but man, Bale hams it up like a champ and literally shouts every one of his lines. I loved how ridiculous his performance is here, but I can see why some wouldn’t, as it is hard to take him seriously, running around shouting like a lunatic. A lot of magic lingo adds some minor fun and the script has some really pretentious, cringe moments as well. On the craziness side, we have Bale’s epic, over the top effort, but otherwise, not much stands out. This one mostly plays by the usual suspense thriller blueprints.
Overall Insanity: 1/10