(Review originally written at 1 July 2007)

Basically this is just a very well made movie. It has both style and a good story, with some interesting twists and great actors in it.

What gets noticed first is how incredible good and style-full the movie is looking. The cinematography, costumes and make-up are all fine looking and provide the movie with a great atmosphere, that is also suiting for the time period the movie is set in.

But also the story is also fine and intriguing. At first sight the movie doesn't sound like anything too tense or spectacular; two rivaling illusionist who literally start to battle each other. However the movie does become tense and good as the story progresses. The whole way their rivalry gets portrayed in this movie is done so well, even when it starts to take extreme and obsessed forms. You also never really get to pick sides for any of the characters. At times you're for the one and against the other but eventually both characters have their good and likable sides and their evil and unsympathetic sides. You never love them but you also most certainly don't ever hate them.

And finally a movie again with a real good surprising ending! The movie does has some predictable tendencies but eventually the elements in the movie always end up differently then you expect them to, including the ending.

The movie does get unnecessarily hard to follow at times, which is due to the way of storytelling. You know, I hate it when movies use non-linear storytelling, just to look more smart. But with Christopher Nolan movie's this never really is a big issue, since he handles this always so well, with of course "Memento" as a perfectly executed example.

Not every story element in the movie works out. Especially the relationship elements in the movie shows some flaws and have some unused potential. It just doesn't seem to me that portraying and using romantic relationships in movies is really Nolan's thing.

Christian Bale was impressive as always. I love it how he always uses a different accent, though his way of acting always remains the same. But Hugh Jackman was also surprisingly great. I'm glad that he isn't being typecast since his first appearance as Wolverine in "X-Men". With this movie he once more shows that he also can handle far more 'heavier' and demanding roles. David Bowie surprisingly also shows up again in a good role. Guess it sounds weird but I really think David Bowie is one of my favorite actors. It was also fun to see Andy Serkis. Amazing, 5 years ago nobody would had ever thought about casting Andy Serkis in their movie, even though he has been active in the business since the early '90's. Amazing what playing Gollum did for his career.

Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson also have parts in the movie but their characters would had been just as good and interesting if they were being played by John and Jane Doe, though I like Michael Caine and Scarlett Johansson as actors and appreciate them being in this movie.

Even though the movie is tense and told in a difficult way, the movie also remains a perfectly entertaining one to watch. All of the magic tricks in the movie are done well and it also gives us a look in the way magicians worked and how tricks were created and executed. I also love how they kept the movie and its tricks also always as authentic as possible. It always looks like a magic trick and never like a computer effect or anything. Something that wasn't the case to that other and definitely also lesser illusionist movie "The Illusionist", also from 2006.

I wish there would be more movies like this.


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About Frank Veenstra

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