The Prestige – DVD Review

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Christopher Nolan


Hugh Jackman ………. Robert Angier
Christian Bale ………. Alfred Borden
Michael Caine ………. Cutter
Scarlett Johansson ………. Olivia Wenscombe
David Bowie ………. Nikola Tesla
Piper Perabo ………. Julia McCullough
Rebecca Hall ………. Sarah
Samantha Mahurin ………. Jess

The Movie

Every magic trick has three parts. There is “The Pledge”, where every magician says to the audience that they will do something amazing before their eyes. Then, there is “The Turn”, where the magician actually performs the illusion part of the trick. Finally, there is “The Prestige”, which is where a good trick can become great. It’s the part of the trick where what you thought was true, is now proven to be false. It’s the payoff. It’s where whatever has disappeared or transformed returns, and only then can the magician soak up the applause from the audience. Some magicians will do anything to get “The Prestige”.

The Prestige is about two rival magicians who are obsessed with outperforming one another. They are like night and day or oil and water. Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) is a charismatic showman, while Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) is a gifted illusionist. They start out as friends until one of their big tricks goes terribly wrong. And the outcome puts them at odds. From friends to bitter enemies their lives are consumed with finding out the other’s secrets so that they can become the ultimate magician.

Right from the start the first thing that should be mentioned about this movie is the cast. This is the best of the best. Hugh Jackman is fantastic as Angier. Christian Bale is pretty much on equal ground with Jackman as well. They have a lot of chemistry on the screen. They actually look like they could have been the best of friends, but now are the worst of enemies. Michael Caine has a strong supporting role, but what else is new. David Bowie is an interesting choice for Tesla, but he fits that role nicely. About the only negative for the cast is Scarlett Johansson. That’s not saying that she did a bad job as the female lead, because she didn’t. Her screen time, or lack there of, made it impossible for Johansson to make a lasting impression. Still, Nolan couldn’t have come up with a better list of stars than this.

The imagery depicted throughout is also superb. This film looks like an epic, filled with dark colors that enhance the quality. Set around the turn of the century in Victorian England, the set design recreates that same look without many problems. Not bad when you consider its 40 million-dollar budget. Had the acting not been top-notch, the visuals and cinematography would have easily been the best aspects about The Prestige.

Christopher Nolan has made a name for himself in Hollywood as of late as a great director. Memento was his breakthrough feature and he followed that by remaking the Norwegian mystery Insomnia. But he is probably best known for rejuvinating the Batman franchise with Batman Begins. With The Prestige, Nolan keeps his momentum going and delivers another winner. He is able to take a simple story and turn it into something greater. And, there are moments in which he draws inspiration from his previous films and perfectly blends them into the story.

The Prestige is almost like a great magic trick. Sometimes magicians have to take a simple trick and perform it in such a way that the audience is on the edge of their seats only to be standing on their feet when all is revealed. The same can be said for Christopher Nolan. Taking a simple story and adding his own magic touch, he makes a rivalry between two magicians that much better. Even with the added interest of seeing Batman and Wolverine going at it, Nolan is the one left getting all of “The Prestige”.

The Video:

The video is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen and it is enhanced for 16×9 televisions. The quality here is top-notch as I have mentioned. The cinemotography definitley does the film justice. One the film’s greatest aspects.

The Audio:

The audio included is available in English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 sound, or French Dolby Digital 2.0 sound. There are subtitles available in English, Spanish, and French. There is no blaring soundtrack, but there doesn’t need be. In fact, this is one movie where the music really doesn’t enhance the tension or mood. The visuals set the mood perfectly for this film. Still, there is no real problems with the audio as it is.

The Extras:

The only real negative about this movie is the DVD presentation. Specifically the extras. Miniscle at best. There is just not a lot there. Which means, future double-dips are inevitable.

“The Director’s Notebook: The Cinematic Sleight of Hand of Christopher Nolan” Featurette

This featurette is divided up into five parts. They include: “Conjuring the Past,” “The Visual Maze,” “Metaphors of Deception,” “Tesla: The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century,” and “Resonances.” This is not as in-depth as you might think. What you do get here, though, are interviews with Christopher Nolan, the cast, author Christopher Priest, whose novel is the basis for the film, and screenwriter Jonathan Nolan. They all talk about various aspects to the film, including the real Victorian era magicians, the film’s visual style, themes in the movie, and the real Nicola Tesla. Overall, there is some good stuff here, but it could have been expanded upon.

“The Art of The Prestige” Gallery
This is simply still photos from the feature in a slideshow. There are pictures of the costumes, sets, and cast along with behind-the-scenes shots and poster art that apppeared in the movie. Considering that this is the only special feature besides the lone featurette, this is quite disappointing. The photos are nice to look at once, but nothing worth repeat visits.


The movie is a definite rental for anyone as it was one of the best from 2006. Fans of Jackman or Bale will probably want to buy this movie. However, I would hold off buying this version of the film. The DVD is lacking in the special features department. It’s almost a guarantee that there will be a “deluxe” version of the film released in the future. Perhaps it will be conjured up when Nolan’s The Dark Knight hits theaters next summer. If not, it would be a severe disappointment.

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for The Prestige
(OUT OF 10)

THE Video

THE Audio