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The Illusionist - 26/2/2007 6:58:14 AM   
Empire Admin

 

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- 26/2/2007 9:57:57 AM   
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- 27/2/2007 9:07:09 PM   
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- 3/3/2007 3:45:03 PM   
felix sore foot


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Thought it was better than the Empire review made out. Loved the performances from both Giamatti & Norton, although Norton's accent does seem to become more pronounced towards the film's latter stages. A simple story, handled very subtley by Neil Burger. Philip Glass' sountrack lends itself well towards the narrative. One of this year's genuine pleasures.

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- 3/3/2007 3:45:10 PM   
felix sore foot


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Thought it was better than the Empire review made out. Loved the performances from both Giamatti & Norton, although Norton's accent does seem to become more pronounced towards the film's latter stages. A simple story, handled very subtley by Neil Burger. Philip Glass' sountrack lends itself well towards the narrative. One of this year's genuine pleasures.

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The Illusionist - 3/3/2007 4:36:14 PM   
dja1231


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Really enjoyed this movie.  I saw it last night.  I just love the over all look of it.  Reminds me of a vintage film and felt the washed out color seem to give it a mystical look.  And your right about the music it went well with the movie.
DA.

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It has the Abra and Kadabra, just lacking a bit of Alak... - 3/3/2007 5:54:41 PM   
02PARSIM

 

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Many people might regard The Illusionist as a few months too late, well people in Britain anyway. You see The Illusionist has many similarities with last years The Prestige, both follow rivalries (albeit in a different sense), both surround magicians, or illusionists, both are period pieces, and both rely on a final real twist that are pretty tricky to guess. I saw The Prestige when it first came out and I absolutelly loved it, superb performances, great directing, and of course the twist that absolutelly blew me away. Now several months later, The Prestige's distant but all too similar cousin has arrived in all its glory. Now the trouble with this is that is draws out inevitable comparisons between the two movies. And unfortunatelly in terms of quality and entertainment The Prestige always wins over The Illusionist. However this is not to say that The Illusionist is not a good movie, actually quite the opposite in fact. The Illusionist is a superb movie, its just overshadowed a tiny bit by The Prestige.

Now then the good points of The Illusionist to start the proceedings. Well first and foremost the performances are absolutelly brilliant. Edward Norton is a superb actor in my eyes, in fact in nearlly everything he has made he has always delivered a great performance. In this movie Norton simply has to be very mysterious, and he pulls that off very well, but he also gives him a more human and subtle side to the character. The moments he spends with Jessica Biel's Sophie are trully brilliant. Jessica Biel delivers her best performance to date, not saying much as her other movies were rubbish, but in all seriousness she delivers a pretty good performance here. Paul Giamatti is on top form as usual, his character remaining the most interesting and human out of them all. He has some great comedy moments here and there and his curiosity for magic makes him all the better. But the big star here has got to be Rufus Sewell's lip curlingly evil Crown Prince. Sewell relish

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The Illusionist - 3/3/2007 8:46:06 PM   
Philconcannon

 

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From: London
As an act of cinematic trickery, The Illusionist is a nifty piece of work. This latest entry in the suddenly popular turn-of-the-century magicians genre is a film which casts a spell over the viewer; a film which lulls us into the story, even while we remain aware of its numerous flaws. Director Neil Burger pulls off this feat by employing charismatic actors, some gorgeous cinematography, and a lyrical musical score; all aspects which deceive the viewer into thinking there's more to this old-fashioned drama than meets the eye - what a shame Burger almost blows the whole show right at the end, revealing the basic mechanics behind his act at the worst possible moment.

So The Illusionist isn't a perfect film by any means, but at least it's a lot more fun than The Prestige, Christopher Nolan's magician movie which displayed a distinct lack of magic as it followed the rivalry between two obsessively driven characters. There's a touch more romance about The Illusionist, and it coveys a beguiling sense of wonder at the magician's art. In this case, the magician is Eisenheim (Edward Norton) an extraordinarily gifted and enigmatic individual whose spectacular shows are wowing Austrian crowds in the early part of the 20th century. He makes doves appear out of nowhere, he causes an orange tree to grow on stage, and he has a fantastic trick involving a red cape and a mirror, but for this last one he needs a volunteer.

It just so happens that the volunteer emerging from the audience on one particular night is Sophie (Jessica Biel), someone who Eisenheim loved as a child and who was cruelly snatched away from him by her aristocratic family. Now, Sophie is due to marry the Crown Prince Leopold (Rufus Sewell) and she finds herself torn between the mysterious artist - who she has secretly pined for since their childhood romance was cut short - and the cold, ruthless heir who is tired of waiting for his time on the throne and is planning to stage a coup against his father. Not a tough decision, you might think; and when Leopold gets an inkling of Sophie's illicit relationship with Eisenheim he orders local police inspector Uhl (Paul Giamatti) to keep a close eye on him, but Eisenheim's most spectacular tricks are yet to come.

This is a dangerously thin narrative on which to hang a 110-minute movie, and the fact that Steven Millhauser's screenplay has been adapted from a short story hardly comes as a surprise. The characters are a little on the shallow side, and it's left to the actors to fill out their parts, something they do with some skill. Eisenheim is an unlikely role for Norton, but it turns out to be one perfectly suited to his intelligent and somewhat inscrutable screen presence. The actor plays the inscrutable protagonist in an understated fashion, his watchful eyes and carefully-chosen words always suggesting a keen intelligence and some unknown motives lurking behind his cool exterior. He's more than matched by Giamatti, who has fun with his part as the conflicted police officer. Uhl is conflicted because he respects and perhaps even likes Eisenheim, but he must follow the orders of Leopold, a man for whom such respect and likeability are in short supply. Giamatti brings a lot of charm to the movie, and the interplay between Uhl and Eisenheim is where the film works best.

The love story, though, doesn't really work as it should do. Biel is an appealing, attractive presence - and perhaps the only person in the film not sporting some impressive facial hair - but she can't do a great deal with the stock 'romantic interest' part she has been saddled with. The romantic angle of The Illusionist feels pretty rote and clichéd, and the third point in the central love triangle - Sewell's Leopold - never grows into anything more than a cold and predictable villain.

But despite the laborious nature of these scenes, The Illusionist always manages to hold the attention, and it's always pleasing on the eye. Dick Pope's photography is absolutely spellbinding: he paints the film with a sepia-toned brush, the slight haziness and flickering nature of his camerawork recalling early silent pictures, and The Illusionist always maintains a strangely beguiling quality because of its lovingly crafted atmosphere. The film also delights in the act of magic itself, with some lovely low-key special effects utilised to bring Eisenheim's illusions to the screen. These tricks are adventurous, stretching credibility without being entirely outside the realms of possibility, but when Eisenheim's act starts to include apparent necromancy in the film's second half - bringing ghosts to life on the stage, and causing them to walk amidst the public - the picture starts to wobble badly.

The Illusionist eventually builds to a twist ending which is a cinematic crime on two fronts. First of all, it's a painfully obvious piece of rug-pulling which most viewers will have seen coming a long time before, and most will have been hoping in vain for something more original; and if that wasn't bad enough, it's also an ending which is explained to the viewer in a bewildering Usual Suspects-style avalanche of flashbacks, the effect of which is confusion as much as enlightenment. This an extraordinarily clumsy manner in which to end such a graceful piece of filmmaking, and it's almost as if the filmmakers got cold feet at the thought of hiding the workings of their plot, instead deciding at a late script meeting to throw the audience a bone.

The Illusionist disappoints then, after a pretty strong opening hour, but it remains an enjoyable picture which is different enough from the norm to merit a recommendation. Fans of The Prestige may argue that Christopher Nolan's film is more strongly scripted and more ambitious - and they'd probably be right in many ways - but I preferred The Illusionist because it feels like a film which possesses a greater sense of wit and invention, and seems to contain a little of that rare magical quality which was notable by its absence in The Prestige. Neil Burger certainly knows how to hold an audience's attention, he knows how to dazzle them with some smart conjuring or misdirection, but he doesn't quite know how to end his act; and The Illusionist would have been a much stronger film if it had resisted the urge to spill everything it had concealed up its sleeves just before the curtain fell. As any good magician should know, a trick never feels quite as special when the sense of mystery has been spoiled.


< Message edited by Philconcannon -- 4/3/2007 1:10:44 AM >

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RE: The Illusionist - 3/3/2007 9:06:02 PM   
King_Wah


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From: Halesowen
A very dissapointing film I found. There was absolutely no chemistry between Norton and Biel. Did not buy their great love at all. It was so obviously heading for a 'trick' ending that I could take it seriously after halfway anyway.

On the plus point Giamatti was superb as ever.

A disappointing 2/5

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RE: The Illusionist - 3/3/2007 9:30:03 PM   
rmarcella

 

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Entertaining to a certain degree, however the disappointment lied in it's huge predictability factor which unfortunately made the plot line seem somewhat thin. It was filmed nicely and conveyed a nostalgic feel which one would associate with those times. This is a shame as I think that Paul Giamatti as an excellent actor as is Ed Norton who should maybe stick to Sideways and American History X.

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RE: The Illusionist - 4/3/2007 12:27:18 AM   
Indio


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I really enjoyed watching this, I found it far more watchable than The Prestige, which got so wound up in being too clever for its own good that it forgot to provide anyone remotely likable in any of its leading roles. OK so maybe Norton's portrayal of Eisenheim was a bit subdued, but I thought that was part of Burgers intention, to make the character a man of mystery and you still weren't sure whether or not he really had magical powers by the end of the film.  Maybe Biels performance wasn't that great, but she wasn't in the film that much and she was still better than Johansson's kind of similar role in The Prestige.

OK, so maybe Sewell strayed a little bit too far into Dick Dastardly moustache twirling territory at times, and some of the accents wandered too, but I found the film overall to be most enjoyable, in particular Giamatti's performance which managed to stay just the right side of the Watson/Lestrade buffoonery which the usual period pieces of the same time zone offer up to us. It's not a classic but I'd recommend it for anyone looking for something a little bit different.

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RE: The Illusionist - 4/3/2007 12:30:46 AM   
Baron Duke

 

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Just watched the movie and I really enjoyed it. There was an element of fun, charm and intrigue that really kept a hold on me that I've not really ever embraced before. However, I'm not saying this film is a masterpiece.
The acting is excellent. Edward Norton as the enigmatic Eisenheim is mysterious, yet charming and when watching it, I felt that no one could play this role but Norton. Jessica Biel as love interest, Sophie, doesn't have much to chew on and is a bit underused, but there was an ethereal beauty to Biel which has been hidden from action films she's been in such as Blade: Trinity, etc. Paul Giamatti is likeable, yet slightly more gritty and ruthless than in previous roles as Inspector Uhl, who combines his respect for Norton's Eisenheim, but his loyalty to Rufus Sewell's sneering Prince Leopold perfectly. Sewell can easily be seen to relish his role as the maleavolent, yet panto-looking Leopold and clearly gives the film a lot more spirit (no pun intended).
The cinematography is excellent too. At first, it resembled a little bit like Tim Burton's 'Sleepy Hollow' however it isn't really gothic, but creates an engaging, intimate atmosphere which reeled me in to the film even more.
Despite The Illusionist sharing some similarities to The Prestige, the similarities are few. To me, what resmebles The Prestige in The Illusionist are the times when Edward Norton is on stage speaking confidently to the audience and also the theme of rivalry/competition. What I got from The Illusionist that I didn't get from The Prestige was a reasonably beleivable and touching love story. The Prestige was an awesome film, which I probably like more because it achieved greatly in substance than The Illusionist, but The Prestige was clearly more gritty, dark, disturbing, with some fairly brutal scenes (especially given the fact The Illusionist recieved a PG rating and The Prestige was a 12A). The PG rating means that The Illusionist is a more affectionate film, with magic tricks looking graceful than The Prestige's death-defying/physical magic tricks.
Where The Prestige's twist is a shocker, The Illusionist was surprising, but in a charming way. Most of the twists at the end of the film I anticipated and I'm sure people who go see it will, however there were a few surprises which I was impressed by. Even if the film may raise 1 or 2 questions, the twists at the end all come together in a nice way, the atmosphere (music, actors) being unpretentious.
Where the film may lack complete surprises, it's a touching love story that is undeniably entertaining throughout, with stylish cinematography and engaging performances to entertain both the male and female audience, that will work as a family film with a greater, detailed flair of charm, style and elegance. I would give The Illusionist a 4 out of 5, being fair as it only just reached a 4 in my opinion.

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RE: The Illusionist - 4/3/2007 7:36:14 AM   
porntrooper

 

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Saw this a while ago and meant to post a review but totally forgot.... oh well.  In short, I really enjoyed it.  There are certain elements which prevent it from 4 star status, the lack of chemistry between Norton and Biel being the main issue I had, though they both give good performances.  Giamatti was great (Can we have him as The Penguin in a future Batman film, please Mr Nolan?). I initially thought the central trick and twist ending was obvious, then as it progressed and we had the ghost visions I thought maybe the film had tricked me and the reveal was going to be a bit more magical.  Dissapointingly though it reverted to the plot line I'd guessed back in act 1, which was a bit lame.  But it's certainly enjoyable, and faqr more entertaining than I'd originally expected.

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RE: The Illusionist - 4/3/2007 7:47:27 AM   
thedrin

 

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From: Ireland
Overall, dissapointing. A good build up and a very nice performance by Giamatti couldn't compensate for what was, ultimately, a predictable, badly revealed and, most criminally of all, seemingly pointless ending.

From Here On There Be SPOILERS:



Eisenhiem's entire plot was based on the claim that the crown prince would kill him and Biel if they went away together. Yet, be it through bad direction, a badly written character, or a bad performance, Leopold always seemed more interested in his attempt to sieze (and save) the empire. Once the loss of Biel proved not to have hampered his attempts to woo the Hungarians (he arrived in Budapest well before the news of her death), I never bought into the idea that he would persue them both.

I was also dissapointed that it was never explained (or hinted, as with other tricks) how Eisenheim performed his big trick.

< Message edited by thedrin -- 4/3/2007 7:49:22 AM >

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RE: The Illusionist - 4/3/2007 11:31:27 AM   
Shaunette_ofthe_Dead


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A predictable film with a "twist" that was telegraphed a mile away, but I still enjoyed it. Definately a Sunday Afternoon Film, but pleasant and pretty to look at.

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- 4/3/2007 5:28:19 PM   
moviemaniac2


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The Illusionist playing second fiddle to Christopher Nolan’s equally dark and mysterious The Prestige.To be fair, The Illusionist suffers by comparison with The Prestige.Edward Norton brings pensive intensity to his role as Eisenheim, a brilliant stage illusionist whose forbidden childhood romance with Duchess Sophie von Teschen (Jessica Biel).

Norton plays Eisenheim as such an unknowable enigma that he borders on unlikeable. It’s left to Giamatti to inject humanity into the proceedings.
Magic and love but not a lot of passion in this patchy period piece that could have been The Prestige’s smarter cousin, yet trips over its own ambitions.

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RE: - 5/3/2007 10:20:42 AM   
Celluloid Seduction


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From: splashing about the Med.
Beautifully filmed, great costumes(!), performances 'okay', Sewell better than usual, but over-all the predictability factor alone renders this piece null-and-void!

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RE: RE: - 5/3/2007 12:53:41 PM   
neilreturns

 

Posts: 46
Joined: 8/1/2006
Just the worst film I've seen at the cinema in years. Turgid, pretentious and dull- was that supposed to be a twist?!!!
The boom is clearly visible at the top of the screen on 5 occasions that I spotted- a horrible waste of talent.
Wretched.

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- 5/3/2007 12:54:58 PM   
dalriata1

 

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- 5/3/2007 3:53:43 PM   
Metalion


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Joined: 18/9/2006
From: Metropolis, Finland
In some ways I think it's better than The Prestige. That movie tried to stay in the real world and then lost the thread, but The Illusionist doesn't have that problem. Of course, that's mainly because it's about illusions, but that doesn't change the fact that this film is easier to watch since it has a nicely paced story and a far better ending. Good performances too, but Jessica Biel doesn't really fit in.

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RE: - 5/3/2007 5:43:09 PM   
mister_k

 

Posts: 9
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Hmm, I enjoyed this film despite the obvious twist, with, as mentioned, the usual suspects style reveal. There were good performances, although I sometimes got the impression that Giamatti was spending a little too much time focusing on his accent... still I think he's a brilliant actor, so I will let him off.

The magic itself was a little disappointing- most of it was created by cgi, and so simply could not be done in real life, which made it a bit lame, especially when any twist could be made with a character with near supernatural powers....

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RE: RE: - 5/3/2007 11:12:01 PM   
Sway


Posts: 9085
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From: Albuquerque
I've not yet read over Empire or other poster's reviews on this yet, so I've no idea what the general consensus on this movie is, but I personally thought it was a waste of my two hours.

I thought the movie was bland, unimaginative, boring, dull and what it lacked in originality it certainly did not make up for elsewhere.

Firstly, lets get the inevitable comparisons with The Prestige out of the way.  So they're both about illusions, they both contain rivalries, and of course the obligatory love interest.  However they're still very different films.  I actually didn't like the Prestige on account of its twist, but the movie until that point had been far better than anything in the Illusionist.   

Whereas in the Prestige the rivalry between Angier and Borden was palpable, the tension between Eisenheim (Norton) and Leopold (Sewell) was weak.  If the director was aiming for subtle tension then it failed spectacularly.  It was watery tension at best.   It failed to engage me with any sympathy/disregard/hate for either character in particular.

Which leads me onto the acting and the characters.  Was surprised at Norton's lack of charisma or anything brought to a relatively 2D, bland, and unengaging character. He failed to command my attention or engage me.   Sewell and Biel were equally as flat.  However this is arguably due to the dull characters they were given to work with.   If we're comparing this to The Prestige, then it was limping behind in terms of charisma and emotion the actors brought to their characters.  In the Prestige I actually had pretty strong emotions towards both lead characters, whereas in The Illusionist I struggled to be anything other than indifferent.

With regards to the 'twist' in this movie, I was highly disappointed.   Infact I'm a little annoyed they actually treated it as a 'twist' with the montage at the end 'revealing' what I expect, everybody, already knew.  To be honest it was a bit of an insult to my intelligence.  

I usually get annoyed when people get too hung up on the twists in movies, but I can't help feeling vaguely annoyed about this one.   Time and time again we're spoon fed a variation of the same thing, and I guess the director perhaps wanted to take it back to a simple level, but it was just far too simple.    Although perhaps films with twists simply can't win with me... a too complex twist frustrates me and a too simple one insults me.

To end on the only positive note I'll say on this film is that Giamatti works wonders with his character, and is possibly the only character I felt any real emotion for.  He is without doubt the best thing in the entire movie.

As I said at the start, I've not yet read over the other reviews on here, so apologies if I've unintentionally repeated anybody elses point. 

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- 7/3/2007 11:59:19 AM   
quizkid

 

Posts: 102
Joined: 22/3/2006
From: wymondham
the illusionist comes hot on the heels of the prestiges dvd releaseso for some it will be an interesting comparision excercise but they are really very different films the prestiges characters aregreat show offs desperately trying to prove one is the greater than the other while nortons eisenheim is lowkey and iscrutable just inviting you to watch and be amazed as audiences of that period would have been by his illusions or are they real the audiences seem to think so and crown prince leopold becomes obessed with finding out his secrets involving paul giamattis plodand his assistants. the film is not only about magic its about romance norton falls down a bit here not really suggesting enough passion when the script requies it his performance is a bit one note leaving rufus sewell for the ranting. the film is certainly a intriguing mixture of elements some may find like the prestige the end overly tricksybut its worth 3stars

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RE: - 7/3/2007 6:54:11 PM   
DONOVAN KURTWOOD


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just saw this and throroughly enjoyed it. Could've perhaps been a tad shorter, but then i feel that about a lot of movies. Great performances and despite obvious similarities to the prestige it is clearly it's own movie. Highly recommended.

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Waste of time - 8/3/2007 12:21:30 PM   
selphie

 

Posts: 2
Joined: 16/2/2006
From: London
Obvious plot twist, didn't care about the charecters they were too busy with their awful attempts at an accent and all the tricks done with CG and tottally implausable. Haven't wanted to walk out of a film until this one came along.

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Waste of time - 8/3/2007 12:21:36 PM   
selphie

 

Posts: 2
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From: London
Obvious plot twist, didn't care about the charecters they were too busy with their awful attempts at an accent and all the tricks done with CG and tottally implausable. Haven't wanted to walk out of a film until this one came along.

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Post #: 26
Dire - 9/3/2007 1:17:54 AM   
timbailey60

 

Posts: 33
Joined: 30/1/2006
Whilst there is no doubt that this is a beautifully shot film there is little, in fact nothing, else to say positive about it. It builds up as if there will be a twist at the end of it, but what twist there is is so obvious you are left feeling insulted that you have had to sit through the film to be presented by the totally bleedin' obvious at the end. To add insult to injury the director uses the last 2 minutes of the film to go back over all the 'clues' that had already slapped you in the face like a wet kipper during the film. If there was the option to give this film no stars I would take it.

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Post #: 27
A fairy tale - 9/3/2007 12:15:29 PM   
Arwen001

 

Posts: 2
Joined: 14/2/2007
From: London
Now then! It was an enjoyable matinee style flick. Solid performances especially from Norton & Giamatti. Like an old classic film with the soft focused Sophie (Biel) forced into marrying the dark evil Crown Prince (Sewell) but hiding the fact she’s still in love with her first love, Eisenheim (Norton).  It had dream-like qualities to the locations with impressive costumes.  Bit of a drawn out start but once it got going was pretty engaging.  Totally different plot to The Prestige, it’ll leave you with a smile. Good if you can appreciate the occasional fairy-tale and put your reality on hold for 2hours!

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Post #: 28
- 11/3/2007 7:55:43 PM   
stuarth65

 

Posts: 20
Joined: 19/10/2005
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Have not seen The Presige so can't compare. Maybe a good thing. Although the twist was obvious, the film grabbed my attention for the duration, the acting was fantastic, and how you can give this film the same number of stars as the worst film of the year Ghost Rider is beyond me.

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RE: The Illusionist - 13/3/2007 9:03:17 PM   
Brodie_Bruce


Posts: 13
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Excellent 5/5. Edward Norton and Paul Giamatti both give stunning performances in this gripping drama. Neil Burger has done a brilliant job of directing and has given this film has a dream like look and feel, this is particularly evident in the love scene between Norton and Jessica Biel, which was a completely original and sensual. It manages to fresh even so soon after The Prestige covered similar period and subject matter.

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