(Review originally written at 25 May 2007)

No doubt that "The Illusionist" is one of the best looking movies of 2006. Great sets, costumes, cinematography and such but the story left me mostly cold and in fact was quite poorly told and developed at times. So definitely a case of style over substance this one but what a great style it is.

What I especially loved about the movie was its authentic feeling. The movie was made in fairly much the same style as back in the early days of cinema. Of course all of the sets and costumes and such also add to the authentic feeling of the overall movie. Neil Burger obviously has a love for the movies from the early days of cinema.

I however found to be the story quite simplistic, with a love-story also done in about the same way as in the earliest movies. It's admirable but not really good and interesting enough for an 21th century movie. The story also doesn't bother to explain everything, which leaves a lot to the viewers its own imagination and assumptions. Its a good way to make a movie but in this case it just leaves a bit too many questions in the end. The movie is also lacking too much in proper tension, mystery and real surprises. I for one already exactly knew how this movie was going to end halve way through the movie.

The story and overall movie also don't always get properly developed. It's like the movie is stuck at times and Neil Burger still has got a lot of learning to do when it comes down to telling a story exciting, intriguing and suspenseful. The story now just couldn't grab me, though I guess that in its core it had potential. Perhaps the movie felt like it was stuck at times because of the reason that the movie is mostly set at constantly the same locations, for most part. The movie also uses its special effects too much as a tool to tell the story with. It's in huge contrast with the authentic feel of the movie. It takes away some of the 'magic' of the movie, since you just know its not real and not a real magic trick you're looking at. It also takes away some of the charm of the movie and its subject.

The best action and intriguing aspect from this movie comes from Paul Giamatti as Inspector Uhl, though his character really doesn't get developed in the best way possible. His character constantly changes during the movie. At times you like him, at times he's more the villain and at times he just confuses you what his motivations are. Nevertheless, Paul Giamatti is absolutely fantastic in his role and he also shows how incredible versatile as an actor he is. I wouldn't had mind him seeing being nominated for an Oscar again for his role in this movie. But of course opposing is Edward Norton who also does more than a great job as the main character of the movie.

But before I'm starting to sound too negative; "The Illusionist" is definitely a movie worth seeing, that however is too weak and simplistic to also consider it as one of the best movie in recent years, like the current rating here at the moment might suggest it is.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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