The Prestige - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Prestige Reviews

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October 26, 2016
Maybe it's not what everybody wanted or exactly perfect, but it's a typically mind-bending Nolan film that I found quite enjoyable and well-made.
½ October 21, 2016
4,5/5 Ratings for The Prestige
FRESH :80%
Mystery 30% Thriller 30% Drama 20%
Action 10% Adventure 10%
October 21, 2016
The Prestige, adapted from an award winning novel of the same name by Christopher Priest, is an intricate tale of passion, intrigue, deceit and obsession about two illusionists, whose morbid covetousness for absolute supremacy in their profession engenders a fierce rivalry that turns internecine and ultimately consumes them. Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) at the start of their careers are highly ambitious young men assisting an elderly illusionist named Milton. Borden's incessant longing for innovation leads to the accidental death of Angier's wife. Borden marries Sarah and his apparent happiness further aggravates the sense of revulsion in Angier's heart. Angier's vindictive intervention during a bullet catch trick causes Borden to lose his two fingers. Though these events sowed the seeds of implacable hatred, but it is the unremitting yearning of their perpetually insatiable egos to outperform each other that eventually drives them to perdition.

Angier starts performing with the sobriquet "The Great Danton" with Cutter (Michael Caine) as his illusion engineer, while Borden with the stage name "The Professor" with Fellon as his engineer. Angier is an adept showman, but lacks the technical prowess. On the contrary, Borden is highly skillful, but lacks the taste for grandeur and showmanship. Each regards the other as his only obstacle (owing to their bitterly intertwined past) and this starts a series of events in which each tries to stymie the other by any means possible (sabotage, abduction, incrimination and even killings). Awed by the apparent genuineness of Borden's version of "The Transported Man" and inveigled by Borden's deliberate misdirection, Angier travels miles and spends a fortune to approach an ingenious scientist named Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) in order to cajole him into building a machine for him (a machine that could help him outperform Borden). Nikola Tesla is an apostle of Alternating Current (and rightly thinks it to be superior to Direct Current), and is under immense pressure imparted by Thomas Edison (ruthless advocator of Direct Current) and his men, who are after Tesla. As Edison's men close in on him, Tesla runs out of time and hence funds for his research and is forced to oblige Angier, who is his very last client. Tesla flees the scene shortly after fulfilling his promise to Angier (not without leaving him a strong note of caution against the use of his invention), whose ever increasing skepticism in Tesla is placated by the efficacy of his masterful invention. Using Tesla's machine, Angier introduces his own version of "The Transported Man", which becomes an instant success, but in lieu of a terrible self-sacrifice (that Angier has to make every night while performing). As the story culminates, the viewer is startled with many revelations including the mental and physical torments that Borden's complex character undergoes owing to his total devotion towards his art.

The success of an act of illusion solely depends upon the deftness with which its three parts viz. the Pledge, the Turn, and the Prestige are performed. Similarly, for a movie to be a success, its three main aspects i.e. screenplay, direction, and acting are ought to be top-notch. Christopher Nolan incredibly manages to strike all the right cords with The Prestige. His riveting maneuvers coupled with his ingenious auteur skills aggrandize the brilliance of the movie ten-fold. Nolan succeeds in having a dream assemblage of actors with almost everyone giving a memorable performance. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman are superb in their lead roles. Michael Caine shines in his low-key portrayal of Cutter, an ordinary part made to appear extraordinary through sheer brilliance; vintage Caine. David Bowie as Nikola Tesla and Andy Serkis (Gollum of LOTR) as Alley (Tesla's assistant) are stupendous in their cameos. Scarlet Johansson also manages to give a scintillating portrayal as Borden's paramour, Olivia.

The movie is a roller-coaster of a ride with intriguingly intertwined subplots and masterful time switching, which makes it one of a kind and an ultimate masterpiece. The uncanny feat of Nolan to manifest a motion picture, which forays the realms of Mystery, Thrill, Sci-fi and Fantasy, is truly exemplary and makes the movie a contemporary classic. The movie is a tapestry of twists and turns, which evinces its overwhelming potential to bewitch the masses and satiate even the most esoteric viewers. The questions that it incessantly asks of the viewers can only be answered after repetitive viewings, with each viewing seeking utmost attention of the viewer. The only question that I would ask of the viewer is: "Are you watching closely?"

A must watch for anyone, who has nothing against giving his mind a rigorous exercise and his body an adrenaline rush. 10/10
October 16, 2016
One of Christopher Nolan's top five best film's.
½ October 9, 2016
Christopher Nolan proves again his outstanding ability at the camera: he knows exactly what he wants from stars Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine and Christian Bale.
The Prestige is intriguing and clever, built on a solid, full of twists script and reinforced by great acting performances.
October 9, 2016
The Prestige is amazing - one of Christopher Nolan's finest films.
½ October 8, 2016
There's loads of ways to interpret this bad that makes it brilliant.
½ September 22, 2016
The Prestige is a classic Nolan film.
½ September 13, 2016
Great storytelling here. I bet facial hair salesmen made a ton back then!
September 11, 2016
Bursting with mind-blowing plot twists, outstanding cast performances and fascinating tricks, The Prestige is a masterpiece, and one of the best films of all time.
½ September 9, 2016
The prestige, like Christopher Nolan himself, is miles ahead of its time. Quite frankly, it is nothing short of a masterpiece. No other director puts as much effort and subliminal thought into each take like he does. Even little parts of the film that you don't think mean anything become crucial parts of the story. The cast are all brilliant with Hugh Jackman giving the performance of his career. You spend the entire film trying to figure things out like which of the two is the villain of the film but there is no clear villain. Nolan leaves you wondering even until the final take.
September 6, 2016
Pretty boring, complicated Christopher Nolan film aside from a great Christian Bale performance
September 3, 2016
The ending does not satisfy me
Super Reviewer
September 1, 2016
Having delivered such strong films as Memento, Inception and Interstellar (outwith the hugely successful Dark Knight trilogy), it's safe to say that director Christopher Nolan's output is of a very high standard. Many may even claim that he's yet to make a bad film and that his filmography is nothing but quality. For me, though, The Prestige is an exception to that and a major blip in an otherwise solid résumé.

At the turn of the 19th century, celebrated stage magician Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is accused of the murder of Julia McCullough, the wife of his partner Rupert Angier (Hugh Jackman). Her death happened during a magic trick but Angier puts the blame solely on Borden. As a result, the pair become rivals and a bitter feud takes place between them as they try to sabotage each others tricks with dangerous consequences.

As the film opens, we are informed that every magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called "The Pledge" where the magician shows you something ordinary. The second act is called "The Turn" where the magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary (like disappear). But making something disappear isn't enough; you have to bring it back. That's why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part that's called "The Prestige". And so the stage is set for Nolan's stylish and elaborate sleight of hand. He adheres to this magicians three act rule in the films structure but it's the hardest act (and the one that shares the film's title) that actually undoes the whole affair.

In saying this, it would suggest the film is let down solely by it's reveal. It's not. From the outset the film is very slow and tedium sets in very early. I don't have a problem with slow builds and I'm actually very fond of a good magic trick. Nolan's premise is very enticing and having two warring magicians play against each other should make for gripping entertainment. Only it doesn't. It's a laborious and excruciatingly dull endeavour which is very surprising considering it has Nolan in charge.

With films of this kind, you know there will be an attempt to pull the rug from under your feet. That's a given and given Nolan's track record of being more than able to deliver a good twist you expect that you're in safe hands. However, it reaches a point where it's just one preposterous plot twist after another with the ultimate misgiving being that Nolan doesn't capture a sense of wonder. It's difficult to accept the plot developments when you know that it's all just elaborately staged for the sake of it. It's like trying to convince the viewer that CGI is actually real. There's no way your going buy it and this film is as similarly unacceptable as that preposterous proposal. As for the final reveal, when it actually happens, it just stinks. It's a ludicrous revelation that's so tenuous that it's practically impossible to work it out and left me with feelings of frustration. Maybe this was Nolan's intentions all along but, to me, it felt like a con.

Granted, Nolan has a good eye for the period and his regular cinematographer Wally Pfister does some beautiful work in capturing the Victorian era amidst Nathan Crowley's impressive production design. To the eye, it certainly looks the part but really the appearance is all smoke and mirrors. There's really no consistency underneath it all.

Even having the charismatic leads in Bale and Jackman should work in it's favour but the film never really knows who to fully focus on at any given time leaving the development of their relationship - and their own identities - a bit of a muddle. It's hard to know which one to root for as their character arcs are continually blurred and messily delivered.

From what I can gather, I'm in the minority with this one. Many critics and viewers have lavished nothing but praise on it but I fail to see what the attraction is. As I've said, the three act structure is undoubtedly on show; we are offered the "pledge" and it delivers the "turn" but Nolan's reveal simply doesn't work, leaving the final product lacking the "prestige". Which doesn't say very much for a film that can't even live up to its own title.

Mark Walker
August 31, 2016
The last movie, sadly, that I've ever seen the late David Bowie in. Even though his role here was short, he still showed a very mature and dominating presence around this great cast of characters, and that is one reason why this feature is awesome! The rest of the the actors, from Hugh Jackman, all the way to Michael Caine, are outstanding here as well! I love the way the film keeps you guessing when these two rival magicians are working very hard to discover each other's secrets, and the twists, I feel, are very rewarding! I can't think of any gripes about this film, from the effects, to the tone, locations. Everyone does a great job here, and for the past decade, it's become one of my favorite movies. Christopher Nolan made something special here, compared to his other credits, and next to The Dark Knight, this is one film which I consider a tour de force!
½ August 30, 2016
Wasn't enough to recommend it.
August 29, 2016
"The Prestige" is a film that takes a middle hit it and makes it very unique, with a great script, complex, yet exciting and mysterious time, the film surprises at times, "Look closer" is a phrase which is repeated in the film sometimes seems that Nolan puts it in the script to speak directly to the viewer, "look closer," that's what you need to do look more and close as the movie is full of subliminal tips what's the big trick, you need to pay attention and be surprised, moreover, it is worth noting the fine performances of Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale, as well as Scarlett Johansson and Michael Caine, and even with a weak soundtrack and a dark picture, and costumes and simple screen elements, he convinces the film also touches on the subject of the obsession of the human being to be the best, no matter how expensive cost it, and in this respect Nolan is almost perfect, something lacking in the obsession of the characters , perhaps the fact that they are directly linked obsession with reason. In addition to showing the historical Tesla, we see a little about the world of illusions from the late eighteenth century, such a surreal way that now seem magical, talking about magic, it's cool as the film makes clear that the real magic is the science and that the obsessions are not worth the price of those we love. The film and good surprises the script and performances, but is otherwise common to conservative means too much for a movie about magic and illusionism.
August 29, 2016
Nolan starts off easy and then pulls you into this insane world of trickery and deceit making it a non stop thrill ride all the way through.
August 28, 2016
Christopher Nolan can make anything into a great movie.
August 27, 2016
You know it's a good film when you need to watch it again to understand it all, and pick up the extra details you missed.
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