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PCR # 344  (Vol. 7, No. 43)  This edition is for the week of October 23--29, 2006.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Prestige"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three and a half stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Touchstone Pictures     
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson and David Bowie
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Rated: PG 13
Running Time: 2 hours 8 mins

Long before there was David Blaine and Siegfried & Roy, there were real magicians. No tigers and flashing lights for these prestidigitators. The show was about magic, preferably making something appear or disappear instantly. These tricks were presented in three parts. First was the pledge: "Ladies and gentleman, I hold in my hand an ordinary pocket watch." Next, the turn: "I will now make this watch disappear." Poof! Finally, the prestige: "Sir, will you please look in your coat pocket?" Ta da! Applause all around.

In early 20th century England, two young men wish to hear that applause. Rupert Angier (Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Bale) are both apprentices for the great Milton (the great Ricky Jay). Part of their job requires them to sit in the audience as Milton begins a trick requiring his beautiful assistant (Piper Perabo) to be bound at the wrists and dunked into a tank of water. Their part requires them to sit in the audience and, when Milton asks for volunteers, to raise their hands. They are, of course, chosen. Rupert ties the feet and Alfred the hands. Alfred wishes to use a different knot, but Milton is unsure if the assistant can get out of it before she drowns. Guess what? And did I tell you that the beautiful assistant is also Rupert's wife?

Christopher Nolan, who personally raised the "Batman" franchise from the dead (thank you, Joel Schumacher) and whose "Memento" is one of the best films of this decade, adds another gold star to his resumé with "The Prestige." Working from a script he wrote with his brother, Jonathan, and based on the novel by Christopher Priest, Nolan once again displays his skill at storytelling. Like "Memento," the film begins with a crime, here being the murder of Angier by Borden, which occurs when Angier ends up in a locked glass case of water, much to his, and the audience's surprise. Jump ahead to Borden, on trial. While awaiting sentence, Borden thinks back on the events that led both men on a tragic course. Like a great magician, Nolan makes the pledge, takes the turn and delivers the prestige.

Credit must also go to the cast, who seem to take their parts to heart. Jackman gives an emotional performance and will certainly surprise fans who only know him from the "X-Men" films. Bale is equally impressive as Borden, a man whose decisions have not only ruled his life, but those around him. Caine does a fine job as the man who helps magicians create their illusions and David Bowie has fun as Nikola Tesla, whose experiments with electricity intrigues both men. Hats off as well to the ladies, particularly Johansson and Rebecca Hall, who do much with minor roles.

If you're still not intrigued, how about this? In 1994, both Michael Keaton (Batman) and Christopher Reeve (Superman) appeared in the film "Speechless." Here you can see what happens when Batman (Bale) and Wolverine (Jackman) clash!

As 2006 winds to a close, Hollywood is delivering many an early present to filmgoers and "The Prestige" is one wrapped in a big bow. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "The Prestige"  Three and a half stars

This week's movie review of "The Prestige" is ©2006 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2006, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.