Although fresh off the success of “Batman Begins,” writer/director Christopher Nolan returns to the mind-bending form of storytelling that
oozed from his other critically acclaimed film, “Memento,” with “The Prestige.”

Based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Priest, the story follows two upstart magicians whose rivalry becomes a story of
revenge.  As you would expect, there are a few twists to boot.

Like “Batman Begins,” “The Prestige” features an all-star cast and they do not disappoint.  Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are excellent
as the magicians.  They play off each other in a way that makes us wonder who is the bad guy and who is the good guy and if it is that simple
at all.

Michael Caine once again shines as the kind-hearted mentor as he did in “Batman Begins” and Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, and the
rest of the supporting cast turn in great performances.

The screenplay by Nolan and his brother Jonathon works well on a few levels.  The non-linear storytelling completely reels us into the
elaborate mystery.  Scenes flash from past to future to present so frantically that casual viewers may be baffled.  Then again, casual viewers
are probably just watching the latest “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” instead.

I also enjoyed the segment of the film in Colorado Springs.  It adds another dimension to the film in questioning what “magic” truly is.

Unfortunately, the script telegraphs a few of its surprises.  Also, like Nolan’s previous projects, there is a tendency to be a bit too dark and
serious.  I’m not saying it should be a colorful musical, but in retrospect the tone is a bit too one-dimensional.  This in turn hurts the
characterizations.  Although there are dramatic back stories, they feel secondary in the story.

But despite these complaints, “The Prestige” really is a good film.  It requires us to think and try to discover what is really going on.  And the
payoff is more than enough to recommend.

I always wanted to see where this movie was going and with the aforementioned non-linear storytelling there is a constant motivation to
discover the full story.  Much like, say, a magic trick.

* * *
(out of four)
THE PRESTIGE
Directed by: Christopher Nolan

Written by: Jonathan Nolan and Christopher Nolan

Starring: Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Michael Caine,
Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Piper Perabo

Cinematography by: Wally Pfister

Music by: David Julyan

Released: October 20, 2006; 135 Minutes