The Prestige (2006, Christopher Nolan)

The duel of the dueling-magician movies! Unexpectedly, The Illusionist won.

Prestige is pretty solid, though… a flashy angst-ridden story of magician one-up-manship. Huge Ackman and Christian Batman-Bale are magicians assistants when Bale ties the wrong knot and Huge’s wife drowns during the escape-from-water-tank routine. They go their own ways, but keep sabotaging each other. Huge messes with one of Bale’s trick causing Bale to lose a couple fingers. Bale messes with the guy Huge hires as his double for the teleport routine, gets Huge’s audience to go watch Bale’s own teleport routine which is even better, because Bale is using his secret identical twin brother as his double.

How’d Bale do that? Huge sees Nikola Tesla (a mustachioed David Bowie) to find out. Bowie makes him a crazy device… a Huge Ackman Duplication Machine!! Huge steps into the machine and wammo, one Huge falls through a trap door and dies in the water tank, and the other Huge gets zapped into the balcony where he takes a big bow. Christian Batman-Bale tries to get to the bottom of this and is discovered with one dead Ackman and sentenced to death. Oh and doesn’t his wife kill herself? I think maybe the surviving twin kills Huge at the end, too, but it doesn’t matter.

Stylish, cool looking movie, fun trickery and all that. Acting is all good, too. Both movies had a big trick ending, but this one seems to live for its tricks and torture its characters. Illusionist had a great happy ending, and nice slowly-developing story. That’s the one I’d want to see again, not this bizarre-world flash-fest.