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THE PRESTIGE baffles Vincent Hanna, but is that in a good way or bad?

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with a review from our regular Vincent Hanna, who weighs in with his opinion of the highly anticipated PRESTIGE. Can't wait to see it, although Hanna was a little disappointed with the overall flick, yet he still says it's entertaining and satisfying. There's a lot of spoilers below, squirts. I know more than I wanted to after reading the below, so beware!

Vincent Hanna here with my take on The Prestige if you are interested. Thanks. The second magician movie in as many months, The Prestige has a lot more firepower than The Illusionist, but when all is said and done they are essentially the same in terms of quality. Entertaining and satisfying, but not much more. As a huge fan of Nolan and the cast (especially Bale), this was one of my most anticipated movies of the year. My expectations may have been a little high and unrealistic. I figured The Prestige would blow me away, but it fell short of that. The story begins with Bale’s character, Alfred Borden, on trial for the murder of Robert Angier, played by Jackman. We see an illusion going wrong, resulting in Angier drowning in a tank while Borden watches. Of course, nothing is ever what it seems. The rest of The Prestige cuts back and forth in time. After Borden’s trial (and guilty verdict), he sits in prison waiting to be hanged until he is dead. A man named Owens (Roger Rees) attempts to get him to sell his secrets in order to ensure the well-being of his young daughter. Back in turn of the century London, Angier and Borden are young men hoping to become magicians. It is unclear how close they are, but from the start it is obvious that they have different philosophies when it comes to the work. Borden is adamant about showing people something they have never seen before. Angier is more of a showman and wants to entertain people. Eventually, under the guidance of an ingeneur named Cutter (Michael Caine), they have a show together. One of the illusions involves Julia (Piper Perabo), Angier’s wife, being dropped into a water-filled tank with her hands and legs tied. Of course they tie the knots loose and she escapes in seconds. Borden wants to tie a different knot though, and you can guess what happens. Julia is in on it with him, but she can’t get loose and drowns before Cutter can break the glass and free her. So begins an intense, hateful rivalry between the two men. When Angier hears that Borden is performing a bullet trick, he disguises himself and manages to shoot off two of Borden’s fingers. Borden returns the favor by getting Angier to severely break his leg, causing permanent damage that leaves him with a limp. Soon Borden pulls off a stunning illusion that baffles Angier. The latter becomes obsessed with figuring out how he does it. There is also a subplot that has Angier paying a visit to Colorado Springs. He wants a mysterious scientist named Tesla (David Bowie) to build him something. Tesla is working with electricity and is a rival of Thomas Edison’s. It all leads to a series of twists and turns, some of which are easier to guess than others. The secret to Borden’s seemingly impossible illusion is easy to guess long before the movie reveals it, but Angier’s secret is more complicated. There is a lot to admire here. The Prestige is extremely well-made and the cast is excellent. The illusions are fun to watch, as is the competition between Borden and Angier. There are many outstanding individual scenes. It doesn’t add up to much though and it doesn’t leave a lasting impression. It feels like there is a lot left out in the beginning, in the establishment of the relationship between Angier and Borden. We don’t learn how they know each other and for how long. I don’t think we learn as much about them as we should. The domestic scenes are fairly standard and uninteresting. Borden has troubles in the home. His wife begins to grow tired of his secrets and suspects he is having an affair. She thinks he is sleeping with Olivia (Scarlett Johansson, in a thankless role), who was Angier’s assistant but ends up performing the same role for Borden. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I expected to like The Prestige more than I did. It is good and definitely worth seeing, but I thought it would be great, maybe even one of the best movies of the year. That is not the case though. It never fails to entertain but somehow it feels like a mild disappointment at the same time.

Readers Talkback
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  • Oct. 13, 2006, 8:10 p.m. CST

    can't wait to see this

    by reckni


  • Oct. 13, 2006, 8:12 p.m. CST

    "Entertaining and satisfying, but not much more."

    by AngelinasOilBoy

    What the fuck do you people want? Apparently they speak highly of you too.

  • Oct. 13, 2006, 8:13 p.m. CST


    by lasthero15


  • Oct. 13, 2006, 10:03 p.m. CST

    Stop criticising reviewers for wanting more

    by IndustryKiller!

    What is with this trend around here of always making excuses for films? Now I can't wait to see The Prestige and I hope Im going to love it. This guy didn't, so what. He was entertained by it, that only means he wasnt bored. God help him for wanting more than that. I can think of a ton of movies that I absolutely hate that didnt bore me. As audience members we should constantly be asking for more, reaching for that higher standard. I dont think anyone would disagree that 90% of what is released is god awful. Well maybe if we stopped giving shit a free pass it would send a message. The only two reasons I could see for being pissed when someone hates a movie is 1. Their understnading of it is so far off that what they saw isn't what was onscreen, and it doesnt sound like that in this case. or 2. You are insecure about your own tastes and bad reviews make you feel like an idiot. In which case maybe you deserve it and maybe you dont. But just because someone wants more than mindless entertainment, no matter how flashy, doesn't make them an asshole. If all you want is to be entertained, then dole out the 10 bucks for the garbage Hollywood releases and be happy that you constantly get your way. Those of us who want more will continue to try and save you from yourselves.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 1:12 a.m. CST

    I'm lost here...

    by BadMrWonka

    the guy had high expectations, he admitted it, and after seeing it, it was just okay. if he had had no expectations, he still would have the same opinions about it, it just wouldn't have felt slightly disappointing. we have ALL had that experience. so what are you rage-mongers yelling about? people just like to complain, like old people in restaurants. this was a well written review of a movie a lot of us are looking forward to. please stop whining about nothing.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 5:03 a.m. CST

    I do think this is a pretty

    by Konatus

    I do think this is a pretty lame review, it is more like a synopsis with a small comment on the end due to it's lack of details etc. But I agree with Industrykiller, don't cut a guy down for it not meeting his expectations. Especially as you haven't seen the film yet, and I KNOW you haven't. And "film geek critics" being a lower life from when compared to "most professional critics" is a load of bollocks. Everyone is entitled to their views, I mean looked called professionals such as Lisa Schwarzbaum, no one can claim her opinions are more valid than any creature that graces this good Earth.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 5:24 a.m. CST

    Oh no...

    by just_hamish

    Not merely entertaining and satisfying but not much more... Entertaining - to provide pleasure. Satisfying - fulfilling expectation. I sure hope those adjectives don't come to my mind after watching The Prestige, I will be equally "dissapointed"

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 5:27 a.m. CST

    OK I was just jumping on the bandwagon.

    by just_hamish

    But still... if the Prestige is entertaining and satisfying I will be very happy. Has the power of positive adjectives diminished?

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 5:31 a.m. CST


    by Sepulchrave

    I WANT to admire him; I think he's handsome and committed and talented and vastly experienced and he can do amazing things to his body. But his VOICE! Why does he always sound fake? The only thing phonier sounding than his American accent is his British one. Is he a transatlantic linguistic orphan? That said; he's an amazing creature to look at, with the weird sanded cheekbones, like a handsome face reconstructed by a plastic surgeon.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 6:21 a.m. CST

    I believe it was Schwarzbaum

    by IndustryKiller!

    who gave Oh Brother Where Art Thou an "F" because it was cynical and mean. She is absolutely entitled to not like the movie, but the lowest rating possible because its too mean? At least rate it on its merits as a film. I remember thinking that review absolutely smacked of hatchet job.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 7:04 a.m. CST

    Bale's accent

    by Konatus

    Be kind on him, he is Welsh after all.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 10:20 a.m. CST

    What the shit does this have to do with the book?

    by Mattapooh

    I'm getting REALLY sick of every Hollywood "adapation" deviating so much from the original source material that it no longer resembles it's original form. This only suggests minor connections, even throwing out the whole "is there a twin? Did Angier alter Borden's journals?" aspects in favor of a murder trial. Thanks for taking a book I loved to all hell and turning it into a flick that I'm no longer excited about.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 11:59 a.m. CST

    Point taken Nosferatu

    by IndustryKiller!

    I could see how that would bug you. Obviously he wasnt satisfied so he probably just used the wrong wording. And I hope I didnt make it sound like The Prestige was Hollywood garbage, because whether I end up enjoying the film or not its pretty clear that this is NOT "lets make a quick buck" cinema.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 12:34 p.m. CST

    "Entertaining and satisfying"...

    by Juggernaut125

    I too had a problem with this choice of words, and was thinking about it all morning at work. Then I remembered my viewing of Jackson's King Kong. The effects for that movie were truly 'entertaining' and I was indeed 'satisfied' that I received my money's worth. If anyone asked me should they go see that particular movie, I'd always say yes, it was an awesome spectacle... but that in no way means it was a good 'movie'. Flawed, definitely not perfect by any means. The Prestiege is one of the movies I have anticipated eagerly this year. I'm looking forward to it. Let's hope I will be entertained and satisfied. And maybe more. :)

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 2:40 p.m. CST

    Spoiler warning, maybe?

    by ldm882

    I think I just learned at least 3 or 4 important plot points that ostensibly should be revealed to me by the movie. I mean, the trailers show someone drowning, but they don't show you who, let alone that it's two people. Plus I just learned what instigates the rivalry between the two magicians in the first place. Thanks.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 2:47 p.m. CST

    Hello! Tesla movie...where the fuck is it?

    by dirtsandwich

    Not only would it be totally cool with some dazzling effects, it's an awesome story and IT'S TRUE!, no making up shit. God Hollywood, it's a no brainer. The fucking story has already been written. The rival between Tesla and (fucktard)Edison was intense. Edison electrocuted animals to show Tesla's AC was dangerous. But it was just the opposite. One man ruled by compassion and the other ruled by greed. The term "Brooklyn Dogers" was coined because of asshole Edison's DC electric lines hanging from poles over streets of Brooklyn were arching and shooting sparks all over the fucking place. Citizens on foot and horseback had to "Dodge" them. Show this shit. Make the fucking movie.

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 2:59 p.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    sigh...are you new to the site? the big red SPOILER box around the link to the review, and then quint wrote at the top of the page, "There's a lot of spoilers below, squirts. I know more than I wanted to after reading the below, so beware!" what more could you want? your mom to come down into the basement with a mountain dew and some fun'yuns and slap you across the face before you read the review?

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 3:02 p.m. CST


    by BadMrWonka

    I still think you are getting into offbeat territory here. the basic point is this: he was expecting an amazing movie that would knock his socks off. and while he thinks it is a good movie, it wasn't as amazing and spectacular as he had hoped. so it was satisfying as a movie, but it didn't satisfy his expectations. how is this unclear OR unfair? I read Mori's review and that got me more excited. I think this guy kind of didn't get it, so I don't care either way. I'm just not understanding why everyone is ragging on this guy. and the comparisons to Armageddon and all that? huh? wha happa?

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 4:49 p.m. CST

    Dirtsandwich I Am With You On That

    by The Ender

    I think Tesla is one of the most interesting people in human history, and he has been done NO justice on the Big Screen thus far. I can already see the credits rolling for it though, white letters with an ominous prologue explaining how the U.S. Government stole his secret and unfinished documents after his death....

  • Oct. 14, 2006, 7:48 p.m. CST

    scarlett johannson

    by DaleTremont

    When and why did Scarlett Johannson start to suck? I wanted to strangle her in the Black Dahlia. Aren't actors supposed to improve over time? In Ghost World, she was bomb. Lost in Translation- bomb. Then there was Girl with a Pearl Earring- crap. The Island- crap wrapped in shit. All right so she sort of redeemed herself with Match Point but still fits way too comfortably into Category: Suck. Keep the woman out of period pieces!

  • Oct. 15, 2006, 12:05 a.m. CST


    by thebearovingian

    am I no longer thanked for posting? That certainly doesn't improve the AICN website.

  • Oct. 15, 2006, 1:09 a.m. CST

    Nothing wrong with Bale.

    by AnnoyYou

    He's just a very actory actor. He stays in whatever accent he's using in a film throughout filming, which is why he used Borden's awful lower-class Cockney accent at the MTV Movie Awards this year. He used his Batman American accent all through his press interviews for that movie. I dunno; I guess he's like Daniel Day-Lewis and Sean Penn; they just completely lose themselves in their roles. I still think Bale is one of the most gorgeous film actors ever though -- that bizarro overbite of his is strangely alluring...

  • Oct. 15, 2006, 1:38 a.m. CST

    Schwarzbaum is the worst critic out there

    by zekmoe

    Without sounding overly anti-semetic (is there a way to simplistically categorize someone these days without being anti-something?), she's the typical whiney ultra liberal NYC Jew, who probably only works for fun and has daddys bankroll to fall back on. In other words, completely unrepresentative of what 99% of America and her readers feel and experience day to day. Her reviews aren't reviews, they're exposee's (sp) on her mood of the day.

  • Oct. 15, 2006, 2:35 p.m. CST

    I don't want critics to represent the general American

    by IndustryKiller!

    Now this is not a defense of Schwarzbaum, but I in no way want film critics to represent the average American viewer. If that was hte case then every Michael Bay movie would get at least a B+. As a whole, people themselves are out of touch with art. Thats not me being an elitist, that's a fact. Its not their fault necessarily, alot of people have children and work and many things that to them that are more important than if the fued in The Prestige works on an existential level. But I certainly dont want reviews tailored and aimed at the filmgoing public cause lets fact it, sophisticated they are not. But then again if Hollywood would stop appealing to their basest desires who knows.

  • Oct. 15, 2006, 10:37 p.m. CST

    No murder trial in the book

    by Anino

    I know that movies will always have some slight variations from the books they're based on, but this sounds like a huge plot point that may detract from the main gist of the story--and may overshadow what made the book so "entertaining and satisfying"

  • Oct. 16, 2006, 6:06 p.m. CST

    entertaining and satisfying

    by mikepena

    I am still looking foward to this. If it is only "entertaining and satisfying" that still beats "boring and unsatisfying"