I suppose one of my biggest complaints about Batman Begins was that it was just so bloody conventional. Not at all what you’d expect from director Christopher Nolan, who knows how to make bloody good twisty movies that play with audience’s minds as much as the minds of filmic characters.
I loved the Alaskan set serial killer thriller Insomnia, and I was totally blown away last night by Nolan’s latest, The Prestige. It was just such a refreshing movie, and I was engrossed for the full 2 hour 40 minutes running time.
Essentially The Prestige is a film about obsession, and competition that spirals out of control into destruction. Set against the competitive, secrecy-fuelled magic scene in London of the late 1800s (an unusual, interesting setting), Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are friends turned bitter rivals who set out to top each other’s stage show, even if it means increasingly dirty sabotage.
Jackman, here, proves himself to have Ewan McGregor-like diversity, as the showman of the two magicians, initially reluctant to take risks. Bale, meanwhile, is Jackman’s gruff, streetwise equivalent; a far superior trickster.
Definitely in The Prestige’s favour is its fantastic disappearing-reappearing cast, which includes Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, Andy Serkis, Piper Perabo and a virtually unrecognisable David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, a scientist involved in a electricity-centred struggle with rival Thomas Edison. In fact , duality come through strongly in The Prestige as a motif, although any further mention of parallels risks spoiling the film’s assorted twists and turns.
The Prestige is definitely worth seeing, before it vanishes out of South African cinemas. It is nominated for 2 Academy Awards this year, for Achievement in art direction, and Achievement in cinematography.