Tuesday, August 12, 2008

'The Prestige' Made Me ANGRY

When a movie stars Christian Bale and Michael Caine and is directed by Christopher Nolan... it's only natural to assume it's going to be pretty good. Especially after having seen The Dark Knight just a few weeks ago. My issue with The Prestige, which I watched Saturday night, is that it is a good movie... and could've been a GREAT movie... except that the end was so utterly ridiculous that I was still seething about it the next day.

My anger led me to do some Internet searches on the film to ensure I was understanding everything correctly, and that's when I discovered that the movie was actually based on a novel. So now I forgive Nolan just a little bit, because at least he wasn't the one who dreamed up the unbelievable "plot twist."

It's hard to write about this film without giving anything away, which you all know I am loath to do (totally, totally random side-note: I just found out that "loath" used as I did above is not spelled "loathe"... learn something new every day!). But I can safely say that The Prestige is about two magicians who are totally obsessed, and I do mean obsessed, with besting each other's tricks. As time goes on, they raise the stakes higher and higher... and that's when things finally end in silliness. But the ride is a good one, and perhaps if you don't get riled up as easily as I'll do, you'll like the whole thing overall. My husband, his brother and a friend of theirs, all much saner people than I am, thought the movie was good.

Perhaps I had too high of hopes for The Prestige because of its stellar cast (though it was a bit confusing... I kept referring to Michael Caine as "Alfred" and expecting Bale to hop into the Batsuit at any moment), or because I loved what I initially thought was a comparable film, The Illusionist. What's strange is that even though both The Prestige and The Illusionist appear to be about magicians back in the day... The Prestige is the movie that's pulling one over on its audience. For those of you who have seen the movie, I will detail my issues with the film in the comments section as they give away all of the major plot points.

For those of you who haven't seen The Prestige... if you are OK with a bit of "are you KIDDING me?"-ness in your movies and won't lose sleep over it like I did, then I guess I would still recommend the film. Its cast is excellent, the acting and setting and 85% of the story is great... it's just the last parts that left me feeling like I had been tricked, and not in a good way. But if you had to choose between The Prestige and The Illusionist... I'd go with The Illusionist.

- e


Erika (aka "e") said...




Seriously, if you are even thinking of ever renting this movie, don't read this comment!

OK... so... for those of you who have seen it, let me be more clear on why I was so upset by this movie:

1) I HATE HATE HATE anything that has to do with "twins" being the reason behind a mystery. To me, it is the ultimate cop-out. TWINS?!?! Are you serious?!?! So Christian Bale had a twin the entire time, and those brothers were crazy enough to chop off two fingers of one of their hands so that they would match the other one's hand that had been destroyed by a gunshot wound?!?! That is ridiculous. But not as ridiculous as...

2) CLONING AND TELEPORTATION?!!? I seriously still cannot believe that this was part of this movie. After I read about the book, which won a FANTASY award, then I realized that the reason I was so upset by this movie is that I did NOT think it was going to have any sci-fi elements. If I had known that going in, I think I would've been fine with it. Because Lord knows I usually LOVE stuff about teleportation (I actually wrote a post about it a long time ago as the ultimate super-power) and all that good stuff. But it just seemed so out of place in this film, which was set back in the time that Edison was around, I couldn't deal with it.

I had to bug my husband to talk through the movie with me for about a half-hour the night I watched it, just to ensure I was understanding everything correctly. The time-shifts in the movie... which had three parallel storylines at different points in time, were kind of hard to keep straight. I guess the book was actually written as excerpts from the two magician's journals, which might've been cool to read.

In the end, for Christian Bale to have had a twin brother and Hugh Jackman to keep getting cloned and killing one of himself off, it was just more than I could take. I also felt like it was cheating in the sense that for the entire movie I thought we were dealing with ONE Christian Bale... but then at the end, wasn't it that guy (Original Christian) who was killed and his twin brother who came to have the final confrontation with Hugh (notice how I can't remember the character names...)? So it's like the "real" nemesis of Hugh never got the final face-off... and was it even the real Hugh anyway, or a hundred-times-over-clone of Original Hugh?

AAHHHHHH!!!!! I'm getting mad all over again. ENOUGH.

- e

Scott said...

The teleportation thing was ok for me...not optimal, but I would have been ok with it (fellow Lost fanatic here, so you know I'm ok with the whole teleportation/time travel theme). Like you, I thought it felt a little out of place, given the period it was set in, but I could handle that.

But sweet Moses on a cracker...TWINS? I had actually been semi-spoiled for this one in that I had been told there was a surprise ending, but not what the ending was (side mini-rant: these are my MOST hated spoilers, because I spend the whole movie trying to figure out what the "surprise" is going to be, and ruin the whole movie for myself). About halfway through I though, "He probably just has a twin...nah, that's too much of a cop-out. That would suck. Let's see, what else could it be?"

Anyway, as you can see, this one still bugs me, and it's probably been over a year since I saw this movie. Probably the only other one that has bugged me this much was "25th Hour", and that too was probably influenced by my high expectations due to the cast and director.

Love this blog, as well as Long Live Locke.

Erika (aka "e") said...

naychaboy - OK, now I feel oddly better, esp. if you are still juiced up about it a year later! ; ) And I totally agree with you... KNOWING that there's a "twist" and trying to figure it out or prepare for it is way worse than simply being completely spoiled.

Thanks for reading!

- e

audgepodge said...

Hey Erika! I caught this movie on a flight awhile back... I totally agree with your thoughts. I remember thinking, what the??? Anyway, your rant is hilarious.

Ariel Rainey said...

Early in the film, Christian Bale does a trick with birds, and the little kid cries because he knows the bird died. He says something about "No, that's his brother" (I saw it almost two years ago). At that moment, I realized it was a foreshadow, that Christian Bale had a twin, so I think I wasn't bothered by that plot twist at all as the movie developed.

The cloning thing was weird. I can suspend disbelief with the best of them in sci-fi movies, but that was too strange. Killing himself over and over was sort of psychotic. The moral issue alone presents too many questions in my mind. I didn't like the end, but I liked the performance of the actors.

By the way, I saw it when I was living in Europe with a bunch of French women and they didn't follow the movie at all. They were confused by the constant time frame changes, the different stages names, the plot twists, all of it. I had to explain it all afterward over coffee in a cafe for almost an hour.

Alex Yates said...

My wife and I saw "The Illusionist" in the theatre when it debuted. We LOVED it! Sent everyone to see 'The Illusionist." Bought the dvd in fact, which we rarely do because we have Blockbuster Online (sorry Netflix, you need stores to swap out immediately for instant gratifiction, we're Americans not Russians!).

So when we finally got around to seeing "The Prestige" on video when it came to dvd, boy what a HUGH Jackman letdown. Potential to be great got teleported to the Illusionist. Great acting, sure, but who cares when the story is written in between rounds of dungeons and dragons?

And yes, I echo-o-o your sentiment after using twins to fix a weak storyline. Twins should not be utilized for anything other than fantasies in pornography.

Very disappointed and your comments a year later reflect our exact sentiments. Watch the Illusionist soon after The Prestige and it'll make you appreciate the nuances of the former story even more.

Anonymous said...


Wow ... look at all the comments. At least people talk about the movie. Kudos to Nolan for that. I enjoyed it compared to quite a lot of the drivel films out there in my opinion.

The Other E

Ernie said...


I loved The Prestige. I do agree that the teleportation and David Bowie's machine was a bit confusing, but being the huge sci fi nerd I am, I never questioned it.

I didn't have a problem with Bale having a twin either. The entire movie, Jackman is trying to figure out Bale's secret. They first assume he has a double, but once they try it out with a double, they feel it has to be more than that. For it to ultimately be a double, just shows that sometimes, you can't see the forest from the trees.

The twin was so simple, Jackman couldn't grasp that he was using something that simple and it drove him insane...to the point of killing himself and/or clone every night.

Anonymous said...

completely agree with Ernie.
greetings from Italy

Zach Dionne said...

My girlfriend called the ending. Thank God we weren't watching it together. She could tell that the little bearded sidekick fellow was Christian Bale. She's a fiend.

I just really liked how perversely dedicated to the art they were - that Jackman's character would kill a person (even if it was a clone) and that Bale and his twin would mangle the hand to fit and all. This was one movie where the twist didn't anger me, for once. I'm a huge, huge fan.

Anonymous said...

I will say that the cloning thing was completely dumb. One of the worst ideas ever.

But, I was totally fooled by the twin thing, and I thought it was a pretty awesome twist.

Also Christian Bale is just beautiful. :-)