Plot: What’s it about?
The only thing I know about magic is that I can’t do it. Now that’s not saying a lot and I have no idea if the aforementioned acts of an illusion are real or just invented by filmmaker Christopher Nolan. Whatever the case, they factor into the movie and no magic trick is complete without “The Prestige”. Moviegoers will no doubt remember Christopher Nolan for his amazing work on “Memento”. Yes, it might take you a few times to watch and finally figure it all out, but once you do it actually makes the movie that much better. He followed that up with “Insomnia”, a less-intense thriller set in Alaska. He rose to even more critical and commercial acclaim when he took the reigns of the new “Batman” franchise over and he’s imported a few of the cast members to “The Prestige” as well. If it’s star power you’re after, look no further. Hugh Jackman (Wolverine from the “X-Men” movies), Scarlett Johansson and Christian Bale (Batman himself) round out a great cast with additional support from Michael Caine and David Bowie (yep, that one). The elements are in place, but what’s it all about?
“The Prestige” is the story of two rival magicians that were once the best of friends. Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) is more of the showman, who can pack the audiences in and perform illusions that mystify the audiences. Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is clearly the better magician but lacks the showmanship that Angier possesses. Alfred is more willing to take risks and this is proven when he ties a trick not that accidentally kills Robert’s wife. The two become arch enemies and their paths continue to cross from time to time. Robert is packing them in at his shows and is always on the prowl for bigger and better tricks. When he catches wind of a new illusion performed by Alfred, he’s stunned and will do anything to be able to perform it. Is it truly magic or has Robert been had by the better magician? In an effort to find out the secret, Robert hires a new assistant (Scarlett Johansson) to find out the secrets. Will Alfred’s secret be given out or will the two continue to duel?
“The Prestige” is a great movie. Granted, I’ve always been enthralled with magic (or in this case, illusion) so I was fairly easily impressed and I’m a big fan of Jackman, Bale and Johansson to boot. Director Christopher Nolan is in top form here proving that he hasn’t lost the touch he found in “Batman Begins”. Christian Bale and Michael Caine once again work well together and I’m constantly more and more impressed at Hugh Jackman, who shows he has more range with every new role he takes on. The pacing of the movie never really drags and even at 130 minutes it doesn’t really feel like a long movie, per se. Turn of the century period pieces may bore the pants off some but it’s not the case here. Viewers won’t be disappointed.
Video: How does it look?
It’s no illusion…”The Prestige” is flat out one of the best-looking transfers I’ve seen on the Blu-ray format. I even watched select scenes from the standard DVD and it looks spectacular. Quite simply, there is nothing wrong with this transfer. Disney has given us an MPEG-4/AVC HD transfer that is perfect in every way. Colors are bright and vivid, contrast is strong and even though the predominant color is brown, I noticed a 3-D effect to the entire film. Flesh tones are right on the mark and I’m pressed to find much more that I can say about the way this looks on Blu-ray. It’s the best live action movie I’ve seen on the new format. Period.
Audio: How does it sound?
The audio isn’t too shabby either. We get a PCM uncompressed mix that’s surpringsly robust in places. There are scenes at the end when a huge shower of electricity is on screen and the sound literally encompasses the viewer. It’s quite amazing how realistic this sounds (even the Dolby Digital 5.1 version sounds great). Dialogue is strong and clear and ambient effects are prevalent throughout the film. While not as loud as some action or war movies, “The Prestige” manages to have a robust soundtrack while not being as “in your face” as some other mixes out there. High marks here as well.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Unfortunately we don’t get much in the supplements department. There are six featurettes on the “Cinematic Sleight of Hand of Christopher Nolan”: Conjuring the past, The Visual Maze, Metaphors of Deception, Advocate for the Audience and Tesla: The Man who invented the twentieth century. Each of these run a few minutes and give some information about the shoot, the art direction and a brief history of the movie. A large photo gallery is also included with shots from the shoot, the costumes and posters. Disney has also included their “Movie Showcase” which has quick access to the best-looking and sounding scenes in the film.