The Prestige (5/28/12)

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The Prestige is about two rival magicians each trying to outdo the other and learn the secrets of their greatest tricks.

The Prestige starts with Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) standing trial for the murder of Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman). We then find out what brought the two men to this point, as we see them as young assistants for a magician. One trick goes bad and results in the death of the magician’s assistant, who is Angier’s wife. The two men become rival and enemies continuously trying to one-up the other in terms of showmanship and difficulty of tricks. This ultimately causes Borden to lose two fingers and Angier hurting an audience member and damaging his reputation. This rivalry culminates over a trick called The Transported Man, where Angier travels to find Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) to learn Borden’s secrets. At what cost will these men find out the truth?

Simply a masterful film by the Nolan brothers, once again. The Prestige not only keeps the audience guessing and even better, questioning what we are seeing. Since the film deals with magic tricks it is very easy to assume that everything we see may simply be a sleight of “hand” by the Nolans and even after multiple viewings the whole picture is not abundantly clear. The inclusion of Tesla as main character certainly makes me wonder how much of The Prestige is actually about Tesla and Edison’s feud using the guise of magic for the film.

While at the time of release, it might have been easy to miss The Prestige due to another film about magicians (The Illusionist, which is also fairly good). Now that both Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have secured themselves as powerhouses in cinema, The Prestige happens to be one of their best films. Not as outright confusing as Inception or Memento, it still packs a psychological wallop that will cause you do rethink everything you just viewed. The Prestige is a fantastic film that cannot be missed.

I give it 5 “There are three parts to a magic trick”s out of 5.

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Real Steel (4/22/12)

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Real Steel is tantamount to giving Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots their own movie, much like the new Battleship film, but I suppose it goes a bit deeper than that, but not much. I also think it’s worth pointing out that the Amazon Instant video description says the following for the plot synopsis of Real Steel: “A riveting white-knuckle action ride that’ll leave you cheering!” Ohhh…Kay?

The film itself has Hugh Jackman as a down-on-his-luck former boxer that essentially got replaced with robot boxers and decided to fight them. That setup doesn’t sound quite as stupid as its happening in the film, but its close. He finds out he has a son whose mother died and gets paid to keep custody of him for a few months while his new parents vacation. During that time they bond and so forth and along the way a bunch of robots fight and stuff.

Let’s face it, Real Steel is not a smart movie at all and I don’t think it really ever intends to be. The only reason I kept watching it was because I knew the 10 year old version of me would freaking love this movie. That nostalgia kept me entangled in the flimsy plot all the way to the end where I found myself actually enjoying the film. There are plenty of groan-inducing moments and I shook my head in disbelief/disgust several times, but by the end I wanted that inevitable happy ending. In that way, Real Steel is a success.

If you go into Real Steel with no expectations, you may walk away thinking it was pretty decent. If you go in expecting anything more than a stupid action movie with a manipulative plot about an orphaned kid and his dad then you may think Real Steel is just awful. While I certainly enjoyed parts of it, it’s not something I think I could ever watch again.

I give it 3 when the kid started dancing I almost turned the film off out of 5.

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