I’m an avid fan of magic, illusions and all things mysterious or supernatural. I wasn’t around for the Houdini days but I’ve seen David Copperfield twice and still revel at his ability to captivate a crowd. I consider myself a pretty smart guy but even I shook my head in amazement more often than not. Both THE ILLUSIONIST and THE PRESTIGE utilize a fine arsenal of magic tricks though sadly more so in THE PRESTIGE than here. What Eisenheim does on stage is nothing short of spellbinding but the film does shy away from magic as the story progresses and becomes something else. The good news is that it works marvellously for many reasons, one of which being that it’s so well written and superbly acted.
Edward Norton has been (and will always be) one of my favourite actors since PRIMAL FEAR. For some reason he’s able to pull of just about any sort of character, from a skinhead to the Hulk and you believe it from start to finish, at least I do anyway. I had no problem whatsoever believing in Eisenheim especially once I saw the whole picture. Paul Giamatti was sensational here as well, I mean I enjoy the guy and all but this was by far one the strongest and best characters I’ve seen him play (that and I enjoy his dark side because as ridiculous as it was SHOOT ‘EM UP was still lots of fun thanks to him). Biel was Biel (I never feel she’s truly there) and Rufus Sewell is always a delight though I wish he’d go back to his DARK CITY roots and play another good guy for a change.
THE ILLUSIONIST was an impressive delight and my only real complaint is that I waited so long to watch it. I should have known I’d love it as I loved THE PRESTIGE and Clive Barker’s underrated LORD OF ILLUSIONS, now there is a concept I’d like to see two more films employ, that being the evil side of magic. Speaking of the evil side of the coin, I also enjoyed THE SKELETON KEY (though I might be the only one). There are plenty of films that dabble in magic, the supernatural or the dark arts but rarely do we get films that are dedicated to it like this one. That said, you rarely get such a phenomenal cast and epic script either so I feel extra lucky for being able to review this flick. Take it from me folks, if you have yet to catch this film, there’s no time like the present.
The Making of The Illusionist: This short feature doesn’t explain how they made the film, rather has the actors (and actress) explain a bit about their characters and/or roles in the film instead.
Jessica Biel on The Illusionist: Yeah...this segment is about a minute and a half of Biel talking about her character just as she did in the previous feature including what she’s already said. It annoys the hell out of me when they do this.
Previews: There is a theatrical trailer as well as a handful of other previews. This combo pack features a separate Blu-ray and DVD copy of the film.