11.18.2013

The Prestige

Careful you don't have your hand shot off.
"A Rivalry That Turned Deadly."

Hello everyone! It's a new week, and that means it's time for The Tagline, where I talk about a movie and state my opinions on it as if they were immutable facts that everyone needs to agree with! I won't be seeing Thor until later this week, so you might all be getting that one next Monday. In the meantime I strive as ever to sift through the backlog, and watch movies I feel would be good to talk about and possibly even be worth watching! To that end, today I will be talking about The Prestige, a movie about stage magicians, deadly tricks, getting your fingers shot off, and guys in mustaches. Also I think it might be about Christopher Nolan's desire to pit Marvel against DC, but I can't necessarily prove that. Starring A less ripped Hugh Jackman (aka The Wolverine) as stage performer Robert Angier, and Christian Bale (aka Batman) as first his colleague and later rival Alfred Borden (which to me just seems weird because everyone knows that Alfred is his butler and he's portrayed by Michael Caine, who also appears prominently in this movie). Things are generally okay between the two, with Angier being the more careful one, and the better performer, and Borden being the more daring one who is better at sleight of hand and illusion. Then Borden maybe ties a bad knot during a show and Angier's wife Julie (Piper Perabo with an English accent oo la la)drowns in a tank (like really really quickly, she drowns in less than two minutes somehow) After this act, Angier and Borden part ways, and attempt to start their own acts. Of course they are both pissed at each other, and so they attempt to sabotage each other's acts. What follows is a series of enterprises and disasters, and a lot of really gruesome injuries.



What's not to like about this?
Along the way, Borden is married to a lady named Sarah (Rebecca Hall who was in The Awakening) and Angier hooks up with his assistant Olivia (Scarlet Johansson who I need to remind everyone has also portrayed a Marvel character) before she gets pissed and switches sides because Angier is kind of a pretty big dick (it's okay, Borden is a tool too so they're well matched). In an effort to both be successful and also outperform each other, Borden and Angier both search for the ultimate trick. In pursuit of this Angier has Nikola Tesla build him a machine (with funding he provides) that will teleport him from one spot to another. I need to mention right now that by Nikola Tesla, what I actually mean is David Bowie with a mustache. If an inventor David Bowie doing crazy stuff with electricity doesn't instantly make you more interested in this film, then I'm not sure we can keep being friends. Anyway, the machine works... well it kind of works I guess. It doesn't teleport people, instead it duplicates them (also hats and cats, maybe cats in hats I don't know I'm not Dr. Seuss). So this leads to a pretty fucked up situation where Angier shoots his own clones after every performance. That sounds nice right? I don't want to spoil the whole movie, but I can say that the conclusion can be deduced if you pay close attention to the beginning.

Hugh and Christian talk about mustaches.
This film was based on a best-selling novel of the same name with a similar (albeit not completely similar) plot. One of the major themes that runs throughout the entire movie is the destructive nature of obsessive rivalry. The primary point of this is obviously Angier and Borden, but to some extent we see it in the conflict between Tesla and Thomas Edison, world renowned inventor, businessman, hack, and general piece of shit (Thomas Edison had stupid ideas about electric power, and in an effort to discredit Tesla and dominate the market made it seem like Tesla's AC generators were dangerous, effectively destroying Tesla as a human being in the process, and reducing him to a state of abject poverty-end of history lesson). In addition the film does a neat job of constantly calling back to earlier events, and of giving the viewer just enough to suspect the next twist without immediately figuring it out (kind of like how a good magic show keeps you guessing, which I also thought was really neat).


Awesome. 
Initially Christopher Nolan had wanted to finish shooting The Prestige before things really geared up for Batman Begins, but ultimately the movie didn't end up being released until 2006. For a movie with relatively impressive visual effects and convincing period sets, The Prestige was shot on a relatively modest budget, only 40 million dollars. It ended up grossing almost 110 million dollars, and so can be added to the list of films Christopher Nolan directed that have no doubt made him incredibly rich. I'd never seen it until recently, but I have to say I really enjoyed The Prestige, and recommend it to anyone who hasn't seen it yet!


That's it for today, join me again on Thursday for more fun in the growing November gloom.

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