• 'The Prestige' pulls lots of tricks but doesn't make much magic.
Genres: Drama, period
Director: Christopher Nolan
DVD released: Feb. 20, 2007
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie
This hocus-pocus period piece seems to have worked for many critics and audiences, but I'm not among them. No one enjoys a smart plot deception more than I, but I've grown really weary of the last-minute twist in movies — something that no viewer could possibly have dreamed up, even if they were trying — to cast the two hours of mess we just endured in a shocking new light. The one thing that's abundantly clear throughout The Prestige is that Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale portray magicians who hate each other to the point of violence. Each spends the movie trying to upstage and sabotage the other, and the best parts of the movie take place onstage as they attempt to pull off increasingly difficult illusions. Jarring jumps in time do nothing to aid a plot that aspires to be too clever for its own good, even if that device worked for Nolan in the also-overrated Memento. By the time the movie finally reaches its own contrived "prestige" — a term for the payoff at the end of a magic trick — I could only shake my head and wish for the 130 minutes back. // DVD notes // Bonus material explores the director's alleged sleight of hand, but I couldn't get it out of my player quickly enough.