Monday, March 12, 2007

MOVIES: The Prestige

Some quick, extremely spoiler-filled thoughts on The Prestige, aimed at those who have seen the movie.

Seriously, BIG SPOILERS.

So... am I missing something? This was supposed to have one of those super-duper surprise trick endings. Then we get to the end, and... Fallon is actually Alfred Borden's twin brother? That's it?

Well, DUH. Who didn't figure that out? If you didn't look at Fallon the very first time he appeared on screen and say, "Oh, hey, it's Christian Bale in disguise," well... as the magicians in the film often say, you must have wanted to be tricked. Because it couldn't be more obvious.

Even the casting is a dead giveaway to what's being pulled off here, if you know your film history. Michael Caine, who plays Cutter in The Prestige, was part of a similar bit of trickery in 1972's Sleuth. In that film (more spoilers!), Caine's character appears to be murdered, but the Inspector who investigates the murder turns out to be Caine's character in a fairly obvious (again, to me, anyway) disguise. Sleuth is actually a landmark in this kind of filmic trickery; fake names are used in the opening credits to disguise the fact that the only actors in the entire film are Caine and Laurence Olivier.

I just refuse to believe that this is the big twist everybody was talking about in The Prestige. So, I ask again: am I missing something? It's not the bit about Hugh Jackman's character, Angier, is it? Because, though powerful and affecting, it too was well-telegraphed. From the scene where discussions of doubles used in magic tricks began, it was clear that a double had been involved in Angier's apparent death. And when Tesla's machine was shown to have created duplicates of Angier's hat, as well as the cat, it was clear how doubles had been involved. The scene at the very end, showing the vast storehouse full of drowned Angiers, still worked as a chilling thriller of a moment, but in no way was it unexpected.

Not to me, at least. So, those of you who have seen The Prestige, tell me: did I miss the real surprise? Were you surprised by these things? Am I just really, really good at guessing twist endings? (Before even seeing The Sixth Sense, without hearing any spoilers, I had figured out that Bruce Willis was a ghost, for example. And before seeing Titanic, I knew Leonardo DiCaprio had to die at the end. Oops -- more spoilers!) Because I have been known to miss some twist endings: Blair Witch Project, for example, I did not understand the significance of Mike standing in the corner of the basement at the end, until a friend explained it to me, at which point I instantly got goose bumps all over.

So, seriously, all of you who've seen it: was there something more to it? Or was this all there was?

Please note: I didn't dislike the movie. I thought the script, the acting, and the direction were top-notch. I just thought the "twist" was pathetically transparent.

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