Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Smoke and mirrors

Whatever happened to Edward Norton? He's gone European on us. Last week I saw a sneak preview of The Illusionist, which opens in limited release this Friday. And the bar is now set for the other magician-themed film this year, Christopher Nolan's The Prestige.

The film is a gorgeously filmed tale of Eisenheim (Norton), an illusionist who dazzles Vienna audiences with his ability to simulate creation in his creations. His fan/Javert is Chief Inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti), a fellow commoner who warns Eisenheim about the dangers of dealing with Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) and his intended bride Sophie (Jessica Biel).

For a story that is thin on character development -- Eisenheim is clever, Uhl honorable, Leopold evil, and Sophie pure -- it's terrifically told. And I can't say enough about how fantastic it looks. The film is a perfect combination of filming technologies both old (Lumiere-era cameras, or a reasonable facsimile) and new (CGI, subtle and done right). Writer/director Neil Burger makes the film look exactly as it should: like magic.

The ending will seem very familiar because it's almost an exact replica of the famous ending to another mystery-type film. I found this somewhat distracting, but ultimately accepted it as necessary for a more crowd-pleasing resolution. I can't say more without revealing my tricks.

4 comments:

K-Lyn said...

But do you reveal your tricks in your comments section? Seriously, I was anticipating this film and want to know, on the binary scale...is it a go or don't go?

Neel Mehta said...

It's definitely a go. One of the better films I've seen this year.

As for the ending, no tricks up my sleeve for now. Though I liked something I read in a review: you won't see it coming even if you're expecting it.

Oscar Madison said...

What, didn't Scoop set the bar for magician-themed movies?

{Damn, where's the irony emoticon?)

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

But... but... when are they going to make a movie of "Carter Beats the Devil"? It would be great on the screen.