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Set in Victorian London at the turn-of-the century where magicians are idols, two young but very different magicians set out to carve their own paths to fame. Robert Angier is a consummate entertainer — flashy, sophisticated and a true showman — while Alfred Borden is a roughedged creative purist who lacks the panache to showcase his tricks. As friends and partners they provide the perfect combination but when one of their tricks goes terribly wrong, friends become enemies and an escalating battle of one-upmanship begins with ever increasing perils to those around them.
For more about The Prestige and the The Prestige Blu-ray release, see the The Prestige Blu-ray Review published by Ben Williams on August 12, 2007 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.5 out of 5.
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Rebecca Hall
Director: Christopher Nolan
» See full cast & crew
The Prestige Blu-ray Review
Christopher Nolan once again dazzles with this thought-provoking and visually stunning film.
Reviewed by Ben Williams, August 12, 2007
When Christopher Nolan made his debut into American cinemas with Memento, film-lovers witnessed the first rumblings of a creative genius who brought innovation and artistic flair to theaters with his unique visual and narrative style. Since that time, I've eagerly awaited each of his subsequent films with the hope that his unique cinematic style would continue to develop. I haven't been disappointed. In 2005, Mr. Nolan directed what many fans believe to be, arguably, the best of the Batman films, finding both critical and box-office success. As a surprise to those expecting a sequel to Batman Begins, Mr. Nolan has instead produced a subtly staggering film about personal and professional rivalry between two magicians. The Prestige finds Mr. Nolan again in top form and re-teaming with his Batman Begins star, Christian Bale.
The Prestige is an extremely complex film surrounding the conflict, jealousy and vengefulness that haunts two rival magicians. The story is told in a skewed timeline not unlike Memento. If anything, The Prestige's timeline is more intricate as the story shifts between several viewpoints and jumps around in time throughout the film. While this might sound confusing, this complex narrative never loses the viewer's attention or makes the movie less enjoyable. The multi-faceted approach instead pulled me in completely. It is my favorite film of 2006, and I have eagerly awaited its Blu-ray release. As far as plot is concerned, I think it is best to omit most of The Prestige's details from this review as it relies heavily on numerous plot twists and surprises. I'd hate to ruin that for anyone. Suffice it to say, I found the subplot involving famed inventor Nikola Tesla to be a story-telling masterstroke. For those of you familiar with the inventions of Tesla, his involvement in the plot will be a definite highlight. It's also worthwhile to note that The Prestige has incredible replay value on Blu-ray. This is a film that demands repeat viewings and delivers more surprises and depth with each look.
The Prestige Blu-ray, Video Quality
The Prestige represents one of Disney's first forays into using the AVC compression codec and has one of the finest High Definition pictures I have yet seen in the home theater environment. After viewing this Blu-ray on several occasions, I have yet to find a single defect in the presentation. This transfer is absolutely flawless. Shadow detail is amazing in this very dark film and black levels are rock solid throughout. Color levels are outstanding with extremely lifelike fleshtones and the occasional splash of nicely saturated colors. As an example, there is a scene where Angier (Hugh Jackman) is taken by Tesla's assistant to a foggy field that is suddenly illuminated by thousands of arc-lamps. This one scene presents several difficult hurdles for this transfer to overcome. Artifacts in the dark shadow details surrounding the fog and halos around the arc-lamps against their dark backdrop are just a few problems that are all too common in scenes of this kind. Of course, this AVC encoded transfer handles all of these issues flawlessly. This exceptional encoding of a very tricky scene allows the viewer to remain connected to the film rather than being distracted by picture anomalies. It is worth noting that the cinematographer for The Prestige, Wally Pfister, was nominated for an Academy Award this year for his work on this film. His fantastic work has been beautifully reproduced for this Blu-ray release and is the very definition of reference quality.
The Prestige Blu-ray, Audio Quality
PCM audio is, again, the flavor of choice on this release. While The Prestige is not a very flashy movie from a sound perspective, it has a several very exciting moments that make this surround presentation leap to life. The majority of the film, however, is mostly atmospheric with a wide open sound stage and extremely effective use of ambient and rear fill elements. Whenever a Tesla coil is fired up on screen, on the other hand, you'd better hold onto something or the sound effects might just rocket you right out of your chair. To say that these effects are loud, violent and jarring is an understatement. During several of these sequences, my subwoofer moved about 3 inches to the right of its original position. So, The Prestige comes with a word of warning: be careful not to crank the volume up too high during the heavy dialogue sequences, or you might find yourself partially deafened when the louder sequences come on quickly.
The Prestige Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Here's what's included:
-"The Director's Notebook: The Cinematic Sleight of Hand of Christopher Nolan"
-"Conjuring the Past"
-"The Visual Maze"
-"Metaphors of Deception"
-"Tesla: The Man Who Invented the Twentieth Century"
-"The Art of the Prestige"
Continuing the trend of adding more and more special features to their Blu-Ray releases, Disney has delivered a nice collection with The Prestige. "The Director's Notebook" is the longer and more formal documentary included here that features all of the above listed features with exception to "The Art of the Prestige". Each of these chapters focuses primarily on a particular segment of the production with a special emphasis on Mr. Nolan's contributions and techniques as well as opinions on how each element should be presented. It really is an exceptional documentary and manages to give the viewer quite a bit of insight into Mr. Nolan's filming techniques and his creative process. The Tesla feature goes into a great deal of depth regarding his inventions and numerous contributions to modern day living and society. If you find the character interesting, I highly recommend this feature as a good starting point to learn more about the real man behind the character. Nikola Tesla is far more interesting in reality than in the scope of this film.
The Prestige Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Prestige is another brilliant release from Disney. The video presentation is truly extraordinary and represents one of the most film-like transfers of any High Definition release I've yet seen. The audio side is also extremely well represented with another 24-bit PCM track. Disney continues to lead the pack with the quality of their consumer Blu-ray releases. Their commitment to excellence is admirable, and The Prestige is another impeccable film in their high-def catalog. The Prestige is well-deserving of your time and attention.
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