Director: Christopher Nolan
Here's something a bit better than the horribly telegraphed The Illusionist. It's darker, a little more intrigue, and much more natural accents. Better acting and script as well. The biggest oddity is showing an obvious reveal with so much time left in the flick, well, it makes you a bit antsy despite the good performances that are still in the progress of occurring. Mighty generous of the blokes and all, but couldn't they have sped things up there a bit at the end? I'm all for experimental storytelling and all, but damn, I'd expect a bit more from the Nolans (with that Alaskan murder remake flick with Pacino, Williams and Swank being an exception, chalk that travesty up to the sophomore slump or whatever).
Turn of the 20th Century saw a lot of social and technological innovations starting to be disseminated into the general public. One thing that was seemingly trivial yet vitally important was a method of entertaining the masses. Not the highbrow Shakespeare Theatre crap, we're talking performers to amaze and astound on a slightly lower step of the common denominator stairway. Truly accomplished stage magicians with unique tricks and super-hot assistants were at a premium. This story is about two of these magicians from their start, how their rivalry begins, festers, and ultimately consumes them.
Excellent props to the inclusion of turn of the century Colorado Springs. Speaking of turn of the century, David Bowie does a pretty good job here as Tesla, plus his assistant Gollum (sorry, Serkis, it'll take awhile to shrug that from your shoulders). Here's the rub: the movie itself talks about the 3 stages of a successful magic trick, with the first two obviously setting up the third. Somehow they ganked it here, and I'm still wondering how and why. Still a better-than-average mystery/rivalry, it's shot very well, and all the actors involved do a great job.
Great Scene: Lucky devils got a great shot off with natural fog and a field full of lit light bulbs.
DVD Notes: Two very cool little docs on the film, one being a look into the film from director Christopher Nolan's perspective and the other about the art and authenticity they strived for in the film. Some trailers, the most interesting is a nod to B-movie maestro Roger Corman. Audio and subtitles in english, french and spanish. One last thing that's kind of cool for the 30 seconds it takes to cycle through, you can change the "flipping card" illusion of the menu between four different scenarios.