This 'œfairly intriguing' tale of dueling magicians has plenty of tricks up its sleeve, said Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. 'œI'm still trying to figure out why I didn't like it more.' Director Christopher Nolan leads a first-rate cast through one surprising plot twist after another, conjuring Victorian London in beautiful detail while adding a creepy sci-fi sheen. But after so many flashbacks, red herrings, and cinematic stunts, the big finish simply disappoints. 'œWell, what did you expect?' said Tom Long in the Detroit News. There's always less to magic than meets the eye, and The Prestige, more than any film in memory, dwells on the mechanics of trickery. Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play prestidigitators vying for fame, whose rivalry gradually takes on a darker, possibly demonic, aspect. Their fascinating performances are the film's linchpin, said Chris Hewitt in the St. Paul, Minn., Pioneer Press. 'œIn a way, it's a movie about acting.' Just as a magician's patter obscures his actual sleight of hand, pure charisma keeps the audience going through The Prestige's fuzzier passages. Michael Caine, David Bowie, and Scarlett Johansson prove adept in smaller roles. But it's Nolan, with his understanding of 'œwhen we want to be fooled and when we want to be illuminated,' who deserves the most applause.
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