Watching "The Prestige," I desperately racked my brain for where I had seen this story before, because the same major studios that brought us remakes of "Gone in 60 Seconds" and sequels as horrendous as "Batman Forever" couldn't produce something wholly original, could they?
But "The Prestige" is just that: an enthralling, clever original story that keeps viewers guessing 'till the very end.
Credit brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan — who created the cult hit "Memento" together and are now thankfully working on the next Batman film — for presenting a well-crafted battle between two rival magicians in turn-of the-century London. It not only keeps moving, but offers upwards of three solid twists at a time when the latest M. Knight Shyamalan film can't even muster up one.
Christopher Nolan's direction plays a key part in this, seamlessly weaving together three different timelines with three different narrations into a cohesive mass. He jumps from past to present to somewhere in between with ease and grace that could only come from a man who knows his story back to front (and had already made a movie that ran backwards.)
The rivalry between the two magicians, Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale), grows as one magician becomes more and more obsessed, to the point of unthinkable deeds, with the other's tricks.
In the end, the film takes a turn for the more fantastical, and yet the characters stay real — an impressive feat for any film with David Bowie in the cast.
Bale and Jackman are supported by such an amazing cast — featuring Bowie, Scarlett Johansson and Michael Caine — that even the most average performances could have made the film work. But they're both strikingly good: Jackman's obsessive performance bounces perfectly off of Bale's subtly angry one.
It goes to show that a Batman vs. Wolverine movie wouldn't be a bad idea.
<1b>— Matthew Razak