Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Prestige

Now we come to the Christopher Nolan film that I have an immense soft spot for, The Prestige. I know that it is not one of his best movies, but I love it nonetheless. It is such an over-the-top premise that it was perfect. Who knew Nikola Tesla was a wizard?

The lead up to The Prestige was amusing because it was Batman vs. Wolverine. How much more nerdier can you get than that? The answer, if you were wondering, is Batman. Batman always wins. That’s why he is Batman. Although that may have been a weak selling point, the story really did come down to Christian Bale vs. Hugh Jackman. Both of them brought what they do best to the table. Bale gets to disappear into a double role (spoiler) while Jackman gets to be the flamboyant showman. That is playing to their strengths. This may actually be my favorite Jackman performance. Maybe it was the clothes, once again I love canes and will never say no to a sweet top hat, but this character just fit Jackman. On the other hand Bale plays twins who hide that fact so he gets to disappear into duel roles. Well if that isn't the absolute perfect use of Christian Bale’s skill set, I don’t know what is. At least this time around, he uses make-up and clothes to change his look instead of his usual full body makeover.

As per usual, Nolan populates the supporting cast with spectacular choices. In the first of his continual return appearances, Michael Caine plays the Michael Caine role. Obviously, that was the role he was born to play. The women in Bale and Jackman’s lives are played by Piper Perabo, Rebecca Hall, and Scarlett Johannson. Can’t complain there. So this is what Piper was doing between Coyote Ugly and Covert Affairs... And since 50% of Scarlett’s career involves movies set in the past, The Prestige is right up her alley. Finally, we get to the highlights of the supporting class, David Bowie and Andy Serkis. There may have never been a better casting choice than David Bowie as Nikola Tesla. The whole movie was building to the introduction of Tesla and then Bowie walks onscreen and it all makes sense. As for Serkis, I’ll always applaud when he gets to appear as himself instead of a computer generated character.

Nolan tells the story with just the right amount of manipulation. Throughout The Prestige, Jackman and Bale are reading diaries of the other character so the audience is viewing multiple timelines. The man loves yanking you back and forth through time. So each character is looking back at past events at different points in their life. And the double revelations at the end tied everything together perfectly. First you find out the lengths that Bale was going to to keep up his illusions. Then in the only way to top him, the climatic scene reveals the insanity that Bale drove Jackman too. Very dark and very cool.

The Prestige may not crack the list when Christopher Nolan's career comes to end but it is still a great film that was a nice break in between the Batman franchise.

9 out of 10

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