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Tricks in magic movie aren’t enough

October 26, 2006

Like this summer’s surprise hit “The Illusionist,” another film focusing on magicians was recently made -- Christopher Nolan’s “The Prestige.” Taking place in turn-of-the century London, this story focuses on two friends struggling to make names for themselves as magicians.

First there is Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), who lacks creativity but is an expert showman, and by his side is the brilliant Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), a purist consumed with the improvement of his act who unfortunately lacks style.

For some time these two cohorts work in the same act while playing a friendly competition in guessing the secrets of other tricks performed throughout the city. But that relationship is terminated when an act of theirs goes horribly wrong, and in Angier’s eyes, Borden is the one to blame.

From that point on, these two spar off, trying to outdo one another up there on the stage, as well as using espionage to gain the advantage. As time goes by, the feud develops into an obsession to the point of endangering their lives. New technologies like electricity come into play, both scaring and intriguing the audience.

By the way, this wasn’t necessarily a scary movie. The suspense just happens to catch you off guard.

I have to tell you, I’ve been a fan of Nolan for a few years now. “Memento” is still one of the most original flicks I’ve ever seen, and he also brought back a sense of coolness and dignity to Batman last summer.

But I believe he wasn’t quite in his prime this time around, as flaws that were unseen in his past works kept coming up again throughout the story.

For example, in the first 20 minutes viewers jump back and forth between the present and flashbacks without a warning, nor are we given the chance to put our feet down and fully comprehend the situation.

I felt confused and frustrated because I wasn’t able understand how the characters got to the point where they were or the chronological order of events.

Yes, in “Memento” it was nothing but flashbacks, but the story was far simpler than this one, and at least there was some sort of warning telling you it had happened.

I know I’d have to see “The Prestige” at least once more so I could put the pieces together and then understand the story.

Plus, I had expected more creativity between these two performers, each trying to outdo one another with a more elaborate and unique act each time around. Instead there is only one trick presented, and unfortunately all they do is merely alter it.

I hate to say it, but even the ending was a bit predictable. When it finally came around I wasn’t all that surprised.

Though Bale does give an intense and convincing performance, I just couldn’t sympathize with him considering the cold, heartless man his character really is. In the end I couldn’t blame Angier for his actions. I probably would have done the same thing.

But all this doesn’t mean that the film was bad, for there were qualities that still made it good. I just think that if the film editing had been readjusted, viewers could have followed the story more easily with less unanswered questions in their heads, all the while keeping the ending secretive.

It was flawed, but nonetheless still worthy.