A Dream Team
While there have been famous rivalries in magics history--Maskelyne and Keller battling over the levitation, the race to perform the finest sawing of a lady and Houdini versus Blackstone--nothing resembles the brutal and deadly lengths to which the films main characters will go. As Jackman and Bale sabotage each other, the ultimate goal is to perform a coveted illusion-a human teleportation--which Bale performs and Jackman wants to master.
The Prestige goes beyond the world of magic and stretches into realms of science fiction. Instead of existing as a period piece that profiles magic, the film often feels like a plot based on some Jules Verne novel. For some, the film may prove to be a little too clever. But overall, while its not deep drama, its satisfying entertainment.
The film exposes some magic secrets: hidden panels, trapdoors and collapsing props--things that lay audiences already suspect. Nothing thats hurtful. A brief portrayal of Chung Ling Soo just felt wrong based on what Ive read about the performer. The film also presents cruelty towards birds. (I think that this is fictional. Ive never heard of magicians doing such things in shows.)
While people who sabotage and hurt others are hardly positive role models, at least in this film, the magicians aren't corny clowns, geeks in wizard suits or anti-social nerds in tuxes-the usual Hollywood portrayals. I'll take Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale as charismatic magicians any day. And when theyre in a movie thats this good, its icing on the cake.
-Wayne N. Kawamoto