Prestige, The

 From Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento) comes a mysterious story of two magicians whose intense rivalry leads them on a life-long battle for supremacy, full of obsession, deceit and jealousy with dangerous and deadly consequences.

"Every great magic trick consists of three acts. The first act is called "The Pledge"; The magician shows you something ordinary, but of course... it probably isn't," says a sly-toned Michael Caine, who plays Cutter - an ingenieur (a person who builds and develops tricks and props for magicians).

From the time that they first met, as young magicians under the lead of Cutter, Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) and Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman), were competitors. This friendly competition evolved into a bitter rivalry, transforming them into enemies-for-life and jeopardizing the lives of everyone around them.

"The second act is called "The Turn"; The magician makes his ordinary some thing do something extraordinary. Now if you're looking for the secret... you won't find it, that's why there's a third act..."

Written for the screen by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan (the team behind Memento), and adapted by Christopher Priest's novel of the same name, The Prestige is a uniquely wicked and dark period piece filled with deceit and obsession, masked by slide-of-hand and showmanship.

Technically The Prestige is exquisite, caputuring Victorian-Era London to perfection - with the sets and costumes blending in so naturally you feel as if your sense of belief has been permanently suspended. The lighting is dark and moody, straight Victorian Noir of the highest degree with gritty streets and grim characters to walk through them at night.

The special effects (which are cut to a minimum, the biggest effect being some computer-generated lightning) also fits in perfectly within the compositions of the film's sceneries and never stands out as fake or "too much."

This ghastly atmosphere is achieved with a $40 million budget and Los Angeles soundstages dressed as Victorian theatres and brick-lined streets. The film also succeeds this task in its casting: with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale delivering amazing performances, while Michael Caine, Andy Serkis, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie and Piper Perabo forming a wonderful ensemble of supporting characters that give the film the multi-dimensional depth that is so often found in Nolan's work.

The third act is called, "The Prestige"; this is the part with the twists and turns, where lives hang in the balance, and you see something shocking you've never seen before.

The Prestige is gothically twisted and yet, at the same time, romanticized with its Victorian backdrops and powerful performances. Lives hang in the balance, obsessions control your every move and you will get your money's worth - witnessing something that is sure to shock and amaze.

Reviewed by: adam