Movie Review: 'The Prestige' (2006)

Updated on July 27, 2020
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing video games.

The Prestige Blu-Ray cover.
The Prestige Blu-Ray cover. | Source

Quick Info

Director: Christopher Nolan
Studio: Buena Vista Home Entertainment/Touchstone
Runtime: 130 minutes
Released: February 20, 2007
Availability: On 4K Blu-Ray, Blu-Ray, DVD and digital rental

Story Summary

Alfred Borden and Robert Angier are two magicians who turn from being friends to rivals after the death of Robert’s wife Julia. Throughout their lives they seek to one-up each other as magicians, trying to outdo each other’s stage magic tricks by creating better versions of a trick called “The Transported Man.”

This is a Different Kind of Movie

I’m normally a person that loves action films, science fiction films, and fantasy films. This doesn’t seem like a movie I’d watch, but I love both Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman so I decided to go watch it. I’m also a big fan of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, so that’s also a plus.

The story is a psychological thriller and while these stories aren’t usually in my favorite genre, I’ll watch them if I think they’re interesting.

The Prestige - Trailer

The Story Is Very Well Done

The Prestige (2006) is a film that comes together very well. The story is engaging and interesting. It also came out along with The Illusionist (2006), the rival film that came out that year.

The story itself is very interesting; it doesn’t show you all the answers until the end. It has a great deal of subtle foreshadowing that you won’t realize was there until after you’ve finished watching.

The story is about two men and their obsessions. This is a movie that doesn’t have a clear “heroic” protagonist, but two men who want to win the attention and adoration of the audiences they perform for.

It’s a fascinating psychological mystery thriller that keeps you guessing to the very end.

"Never tell them the secret."
"Never tell them the secret."

The Visual Effects Are Still Amazing

Sometimes you can tell what year a movie was released based on the use of visual effects in the film. Mainly because of computer-generated imagery, CGI. As the years go by and CGI improves, older films will feel dated because of their use of CGI.

The Prestige (2006) will not feel dated when it comes to the visual effects because the effects were made using practical effects, using techniques that don’t require using a computer to make them. There might be the use of some CG for Alfred Borden’s missing fingers but Christopher Nolan prefers practical over CG, so they might have hidden Christian Bale’s fingers some other way.

The Acting is Fantastic!

The actors in this film are amazing. The cast was a perfect choice for all the roles they played.

Hugh Jackman is a terrific choice to play Robert Angier. He embodied this role so well. He is amazing and he showed all the different aspects of his character in all Robert Angier’s emotional states. He was a great main lead for this film.

I love Christian Bale’s voice acting, yeah, I know what he said about playing Dick Chaney and I don’t like his politics, but he’s still a great actor. It’s also nice seeing him act without the “Batman” voice he used in the Dark Knight Trilogy.

Rebecca Hall did a great job as Sarah Borden. She portrayed a kind, caring woman who was caught up in a rivalry she didn’t have anything to do with. She was great in this film and I really enjoyed her performance.

Scarlet Johansen is great as Olivia Wenscombe. She was great in this role and I like that she was emotional and excitable when she needed to be. This is one of her roles that no one really talks about but I enjoyed her in this role.

David Bowie is great as the eccentric Nikola Tesla. He didn’t have too much to do as the real-life inventor, but he was great in this film.

I also have to give a special mention to Andy Serkis as Alley, Tesla’s assistant. He's well known for his motion capture acting work in many films, but he’s still an actor too. It’s nice to see him acting in a film where he is not required to wear a mo-cap suit. He also did a great job in this film.

Overall, I loved the acting in this film. The ensemble cast is perfect and I can’t think of a better cast to play these roles.

"Analyze" Tom Yhorke Prestige

The Soundtrack Is just Okay

David Julyan composed the soundtrack for the film. It’s not a bad soundtrack, but it’s not memorable outside the film. The soundtrack fits The Prestige (2006) but it’s not one that you’ll want to own for yourself on its own. It’s too bad because while the soundtrack is good, it’s not one that stands alone.

"Analyse" by Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke is the song that everyone remembers when they watch The Prestige (2006). The song is the most memorable thing about the soundtrack and it’s the end credits song.

The Pacing of the Film is Slow

The pacing of the film can feel very slow. Sometimes it can feel tedious if you’re not invested in the story and characters. Because this is not an action-oriented film, this is more of a psychological film and it may not keep the audience’s attention if they’re not invested in the story.

Nikola Tesla in The Prestige.
Nikola Tesla in The Prestige. | Source

It’s Worth Watching Twice!

The Prestige (2006) is a film that you need to watch at least twice. And that’s not just because it’s a fantastic movie. You will view the film in a different light after the first viewing.

You’ll be able to notice things that you didn’t the first time you saw the movie. There will be things you’ll be looking for that you didn’t think about that you’ll be looking for when you watch it again.

“Are you watching closely?” isn’t just a repeated phrase and theme through the film, it is the film itself.

This is a film that is worth the rewatch, just for all the new things you’ll want to see the second time around.

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Quick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Work:
Great story, characters and world-building
Okay soundtrack
Great acting
Slow pacing.
You'll want to watch it twice!

My Grade: A+

The Prestige (2006) is an amazing film, while it may not be perfect; it is an excellent film that will keep you guessing to the very end. Just because you watched it once doesn’t mean you’ll get everything the first time around.

While it isn’t one of my favorite movies it is one that I did enjoy seeing in the theater back in 2006.

It is an amazing film while it is not a film that everyone will like due to the slow pacing, it is one that will keep you guessing and keep you engrossed in the story with its intriguing and layered characters.

The visual effects still hold up and it’s a fascinating period piece with a layer of science fiction thrown into the mix.

It’s definitely a film that’s worth your time and money, especially since it’s so cheap now unless you buy the 4K UHD blu-ray, $5.99 for the blu-ray and $5.00 for the DVD is a steal to me, especially since I bought this on DVD when it first came out and it was $19.99 for the DVD. It was worth it back when I bought it and I have always enjoyed this film a lot.

My Rating:

5 stars for Movie Review;Z The Presteige (2006)

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