Monday, October 30, 2006

"THE PRESTIGE"

Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Andy Serkis, Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall

Cinema 1, Shang Cineplex

"A Friendship, That Became a Rivalry ...
A Rivalry, That Became a Battle."

abracadabra


If you are one of the few people on earth who truly understood the movie "Memento" then I am positive you won't have a difficult time grasping this latest Christopher Nolan masterpiece "The Prestige".

At the start of the movie, we are warned to watch closely so you better take that advice to heart. A good adaptation of a novel by Christopher Priest of the same title and masterfully scripted by the Nolan brothers - this film traces the lives of two magicians who are fiercely competitive with each other as well as obsessed with regaling people with innovative tricks to further hone their artistic talents as illusionists/magicians. It is also a study into the lives of two contrasting characters who despite being in the same industry are sustained by different circumstances in their existence to always aim to be the best in their field. Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is the more skillful one but he lacks a flair for showmanship while Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) is the more flamboyant magician with questionable technical skills.

The film unfolds in the usual Nolan style of splicing the chronological sequence of the story with flashbacks then jumping to the present scene. A clever technique he has mastered in such a fluid manner you need to have all your senses intact to appreciate the crafty way it is displayed. Great costume design from the turn of the century fashion, the impeccably eloquent accents of the ensemble cast and engagingly well fleshed out characters all add to the great quality aspect of this film. The storyline is as fascinating as magic itself. Various conflicts arise, the dark subject matter deals with betrayal, obsession, distrust, deceit, jealousy, love and blind devotion to an art form. Authentic depiction of that bygone era is presented with tasteful cinematography. Scenes of big musty theaters with grand chandeliers, stagecoaches and steam engines as the central means of transportation are well documented. As well as that general squalid atmosphere that seems to permeate during those desperate times when peoples' idea of entertainment was to be awed by magic shows.

Intensely powerful performances from Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman and Michael Caine. The women like Scarlett Johannson, Piper Perabo and Rebecca Hall are cast in small but significant roles. David Bowie as Nikola Tesla and Andy Serkis as Alley, Teslo's assistant were very credible in their roles even if it was in a supporting capacity.

I won't go into a lengthy review of the storyline simply because I don't want to spoil the thrill one gets upon watching this gripping film unfold on a wide screen in a dark theater. All I can say is it is like watching an electrifying magic show performed on stage. You see the tricks, you clap with awe then you leave the cinema with a million questions pondering in your fertile mind. Oh, you get the film alright. You know the fate of the characters, you form your own opinion on whether it was a good or bad ending. But you can't help yourself from analyzing the film endlessly and you can still come up with different interpretation of the events, every single time.

Now that is what I call a great movie!

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