Monday, April 23, 2007
K. There are some movies in life where you just have so much damn anticipation that by the time you actually come to watch it, you fail to see the greatness of the movie. Your hype just overshadows all the elements that make it great. Then, there are some movies that are so overhyped because of twists, and turns, and shock endings, that all you concentrate on while watching the movie is solving the puzzle rather than, again, realizing all the other things that are going on to make the movie so great. Movies like Big Fish and Finding Neverland I was waiting for forever since the first trailers, and by the time I saw them in the theatre, I was dissappointed - just because of the hype. A few months later on DVD, I watched them again - and guess what, they're like two of my favourite movies. I finally got to sit them and watch them with no bias.
Its funny, though, in the second category, the one with the shock endings etc, it sometimes can have the opposite effect. If you go into a movie not knowing it has a shock ending, then the ending blows you away, and you think the movie is utterly amazing. But then, you watch it again, and you realize that the shock ending is the only thing good about the movie - the rest kinda sucks. Once you know the secret, it gets worse.
But as I originally stated, if its advertised with plots/twists etc, you can miss a really great movie because of your focus on the puzzle. Its really a two edged sword this shock ending deally. And there's one movie that I built up with so much pure awesome movie anticipation with a side of crazy shock ending that, again, I was blinded to the brilliance of the movie.
Let's take the movie itself. Directed by Chris Nolan (one of my new favourite directors), with a cast of Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johanssen, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine about Magic! I mean c'mon, it's gonna be, eerr,, magic! I was totally blown away by the preview and could not wait. But on top of that - promises of a shock ending, and a movie that plays out like a magic trick completely had me locked in again.
WARNING SPOILERS TO FOLLOW
The thing is, the first time I saw the movie, I was concentrating so much on Angier's (Jackman) magic trick, that I completely forgot that Bale's character had a trick to figure out too. Angier's was really simple to figure out, but really - the beauty of the film was concealing Bale's trick. Again that shift in focus completely threw me off - so when we saw Angier's trick - I was like meh, and then when we saw Bale's trick - I was, oh right, there was that trick too.
So, already the shock ending didn't let me sit and enjoy the movie.
Secondly - all that pure anticipation didn't let me sit and enjoy the movie - so really I came out of the theatre rather dissapointed.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I revisted the Prestige yesterday with a clean head and let me tell you - this movie is aboslutely amazing. It's weird. It's one of those movies that's actually better if you know the shock-ending. 'Cause then it becomes a game of figuring out how clever the director was in laying down all the hints - and believe me, there are a lot! Some are really subtle, but really smart!
K, let's strip away that, and look at the movie itself. This movie is a great tale of rivalry and never before have i felt so much pain for characters. The scene when Jackman's wife dies, the scene when Bale is shot, the scene when Jackman's birdcage trick goes horribly wrong, the scene when Jackman falls to hit a wooden board floor. Never before have I felt so much physical and emotional pain for a character. And the rivalry is just so amazingly constructed. Not only that - its a complex relationship - I mean really who do you root for. They're both viscious in the rivalry.
The narrative structure is even amazing - albeit at times hard to follow - but the idea of someone reading someone's journal who's reading that same man's journal was a really nice device. The acting was top-notch, the setting was amazing - I was watching the making-of and Nolan talks about setting it as a period piece with a very contemporary feel.
Basically - if you've watched the Prestige and felt a little disappointed, look at it again. Seriously - the second time I watched it, it went from being a good movie - to a great movie. I guess that's why they call the second act the turn.
Thanks for reading.