The Prestige (2006)

Unpredictable, Captivating and Magical 10/10


Two magician’s assistants, Robert (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred (Christian Bale), are performing a show-stopping routine when tragedy strikes and the trick goes wrong.  Robert blames Alfred and the two begin a strong rivalry, constantly sabotaging each other’s shows.  However things take an even darker turn when Alfred develops one of the most impressive tricks ever seen and Robert becomes obsessed with discovering his secret and ruining his competitor once and for all.


This film is a true hidden gem.  I had absolutely no idea it existed until I came across it in a TV magazine and decided to give it a shot, and I was hooked right from the very start.  It starts with the ending and then works its way through the story from where it all started, capturing your attention instantly by throwing you straight into the action and mystery.  The story itself is a pure work of art – full of plot twists, some of them so huge and unpredictable you’re left shocked, but never at any point is it confusing or hard to keep up with.  Set in Victorian London the feeling of mystery is increased by the complexity of magic tricks that, at the time, would have been utterly amazing.  I love real magic tricks and films about magic (I don’t just mean Harry Potter) and it had a similar feeling of wonder and illusion about it as Now You See Me (2013) which is another fantastic film if magic is your cup of tea.


The casting really supports the brilliant story.  Both Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale are on top form when they’re playing a gritty role and their respective characters in this suit their acting styles perfectly.  I have a real respect for both actor’s work – Jackman is great in The X Men/Wolverine films and Australia, and Bale really shines in American Hustle- and The Prestige has kept them firmly on my list of favourite actors.  Both of their characters have a tough life and they portray it with a real element of sincerity that really puts the icing on the cake of this fantastic film.  Both men are supported by a great cast of supporting actors too, with a host of famous faces such as Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, Scarlett Johansson and Andy Serkis to name but a few.


The Prestige is an amazing hidden gem of a film that is unpredictable, captivating and magical.  Headed up by a terrific cast and a fantastic story, prepare to be entertained, mystified, and shocked, particularly right at the end when you think you’ve got it all worked out. This is one of my new found favourite films and definitely not one to miss out on.


Sunshine (2007)

“A Thought-Provoking and Hard-Hitting Look at Humanity” 10/10


In 2057, the sun is dying and the planet is in jeopardy, and so a team of astronauts make a second attempt at a dangerous mission to revive the sun.  Facing nothing but adversity along the way the team must overcome all the odds as they are humanity’s last hope for survival.


I still feel a little in shock at this film.  It takes such an honest, hard-hitting look at humanity, placing the viewer straight into the difficult lives of the astronauts and constantly throwing a series of increasingly tough decisions and scenarios – it makes you question every decision they make, and then question yourself.  I’ve never thought more seriously about the idea of sacrifice for the greater good than whilst being put into the shoes of the characters.  Don’t be put off by this though – it’s thought-provoking only so long as you let it be.  Knowing this was a Danny Boyle film I had high hopes for the directorial styling of this film and it lived up to my expectations.  He manages to simultaneously create the feeling of confinement and eternal empty space, and throws in some really trippy snapshot scenes that give a terrifying edge of madness as the film progresses.  Visually it is very convincing (and apparently also factually as the film’s science advisor was Dr Brian Cox), in particular the CGI shots of the sun, which is interestingly portrayed both astronomically and more religiously, a nice nod to the Greek myth of Icarus (who flew too close to the sun), that lends its name to the space shuttle.


The casting is pretty strong which is necessary to clash each of these flawed characters and drive their individual motivations on the mission.  The most notable performances came from Cillian Murphy, the determined but hesitant hero; Chris Evans, the tough and hard-hitting voice of reason (a somewhat unfamiliar role to him but one that he carries off impeccably, as I usually find with his work); and Rose Byrne, the compassionate and slightly vulnerable one who offers a last-ditch attempt to prove that humanity isn’t completely doomed to selfishness.  However the performances from the other actors (Michelle Yeoh, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong and Cliff Curtis) all brought that little something different to each argument and scenario that made you think.


Sunshine is a thought-provoking and hard-hitting look at humanity that will have you questioning yourself about how you would make decisions in a life or death situation to save a world that is not so unrealistic from what the future could be like.  This one definitely stays with you long after it’s over.

Gravity (2013)

“Visually Mind-Blowing” 10/10


After winning seven Oscars this year I couldn’t wait to see what the buzz was surrounding Gravity. It blew my mind. It is engineered so well that everything about it is incredible.

The visuals are probably this film’s most prominent feature – given that the scenes of space and the Earth have been created almost entirely using CGI it is a breath-taking and strangely immersive setting, giving a real sense of emptiness that is heavily contrasted with the restricted space shuttle scenes. Alfonso Cuaron truly deserved his Oscar for Best Achievement in Directing. Running a close second is the acting – Sandra Bullock and George Clooney hold the film entirely, being the only two actors featured in it, and that really adds something to the feeling of perpetual emptiness and solitude associated with space itself. Bullock is the real star of the show here, the simplistic but effective story centres on her and she portrays a vulnerable, relatable character in this film incredibly convincingly and with many complex elements. I’ve seen a few other films that she has been in and I was impressed at her ability to really branch out in this film and offer such a strong performance. George Clooney does well as Bullock’s astronaut partner with a calming and authoritative character that is just as likeable as Bullock’s.

As I mentioned above, the story itself is fairly simplistic although it offers a deep insight into the lives of Clooney and Bullock’s characters; but it’s so effective, almost giving the impression of time having no meaning out in space (the pace of the film reminded me of Jim Jarmusch’s wonderful Only Lovers Left Alive (2014)).

Gravity is visually stunning and beautifully acted, keeping you on the edge of your seat and drawing you in to the fascinating unknown that is space. Watch it in HD on a good size-screen for a truly immersive and effective experience, you won’t be disappointed.