At the beginning of the Nolan brothers' flick "The Prestige," Michael Caine tells us there are three parts to every magic trick, the pledge, the turn and the prestige.
In a movie about magic tricks, you need a fourth part, the reveal, and that's where they lost a little bit of steam in this mostly satisfying flick.
What's the pledge? Well, just as in Christopher Priest's fantastic novel, it's the story of two competing magicians so consumed by rivalry that it takes over their lives. In the movie, it's Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, who each bring enough heft to the roles to make us care about their oneupmanship.
I, at least, was hooked as they raised the stakes, no small feat given that the book itself is told through a series of diary entries made by each magician. Without revealing anything else about the rather complicated plot, the Nolans work the diaries into the movie well while fleshing out the story with some of their own liberties.
The turn is where we learn more about each man, and where you have to pay the most attention or quickly be left behind. I have trouble even talking about this because I don't want to give anything away, but it builds on the themes of identity and the loss of it that Christopher Nolan has mastered in all his best flicks.
What they work toward is the prestige, and for its time, its a doozy. The Transported Man, which they each adapt in their own way, involves the magician seeming to teleport across the stage or even the theater. If we were watching an actual magic show, we'd be left with that, mouths agape in wonder.
But this being a movie, of course, there has to be a reveal, and I'm sure this is what will divide viewers of "The Prestige." As each magician reveals to the other how he mastered the feat, many will be left with a resounding "huh?"
It's the same reaction I had to "The Usual Suspects" and "Donnie Darko," two movies I've learned to love after multiple viewings, especially "Donnie Darko." I apologize that I can't reveal more than that myself, but I want anyone who hasn't read this great book to go into the movie knowing as little as possible.
Because with this movie, like with any great magic trick, its all about the thrill of discovery.
And the Georgia Bulldogs have just held on for a 3-point victory over the lowly Mississippi State Bulldogs, which with the way this season has gone so far is quite a trick in itself.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 3:49 PM