The Prestige



Release date: Feb. 20, 2007

Trumped by "The Illusionist," the other 2006 magician movie, Christopher Nolan's "The Prestige" from Touchstone Home Entertainment (retail $29.99), has a science-fiction conceit at the end that takes the wind out of its sails. That is a shame, because it also has a more down-to-earth plot twist that is very effective in and of itself, but the film is based upon a novel by Christopher Priest and apparently had to see the narrative through. The cast is terrific, with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman as competing stage magicians who are not only trying to steal one another's tricks, but mess each other up at the same time. Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson co-star, and David Bowie even shows up in a cameo part, forsaking, at last, his youthful countenance. Along with the performances and the general elegance of its execution, the 130-minute film has enough eccentricities to perhaps build up a cult following over time, but most viewers will likely feel cheated rather than dazzled by its tricks.

The picture is presented in letterboxed format only, with an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1 and an accommodation for enhanced 16:9 playback. The image transfer is fine. The 5.1-channel Dolby Digital sound has an uninteresting mix. There are alternate French and Spanish tracks, a passable 19-minute production documentary and an extensive collection of photos and artwork in still frame.

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