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The Illusionist review

Posted : 6 months ago on 27 January 2014 12:11

One of the most interesting magical mysteries I have seen, and it came out in the same year as The Prestige. Beautiful score and cinematography.

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A good movie

Posted : 1 year, 7 months ago on 17 December 2012 01:26

I remember exactly when I watched this flick. I was on holiday in Paris at my sister’s and when we went to rent a movie. I saw this one and I told her we definitely should watch it. Back then, I was a huge fan of Edward Norton who was the best actor of his generation and I only heard very good things about the movie. Eventually, I think nobody really enjoyed it except myself… Personally, I thought it was pretty good but still, I can’t say it was really mind-blowing though. The point is that it was absolutely a very well made movie, the directing was solid, the costumes and sets looked really good and the cast did a very good job as well (Edward Norton ... Eisenheim, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell). So, what was wrong with this movie then? In my opinion, I thought that the story was terribly bland and generic. It was entertaining but there wasn’t really a single moment when I was on the edge of my seat wondering what would happen next. A few years later, I would watch ‘The Prestige’ directed by Christopher Nolan and even though it was based on the subject, I thought Nolan’s outing was 100 times more entertaining than this movie. Eventually, it was unfortunately one of the many movies starring Edward Norton which ended up being either overrated or disappointing (‘The Bourne Legacy’, ‘Stone’, ‘Pride and Glory’, ‘The Incredible Hulk’, ‘The Painted Veil’, ‘Down in the Valley’, ‘The Italian Job’, ‘Red Dragon’, ‘Death to Smoochy’, ‘The Score’, …). Still, to conclude, even though I think it tends to be overrated, it remains a very well made and entertaining flick and it is definitely worth a look, especially if you like the genre.

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The Illusionist review

Posted : 2 years, 3 months ago on 4 April 2012 09:24

Now this is how a movie should be made. The Illusionist is one of the finest movies of modern times and surely one of the most beautiful, visual- and directing-wise. I liked the intro. It was minimal, intriguing and probably the best way to start off a film so enigmatically that, even before the film has started proper, the gears in your head start spinning. I remember watching it for the first time when it came out, they were showing it on TV and I was impressed not only by the beautiness of it but also the cast. Since I also mentioned this film in my review of The Prestige, I'm gonna do the same here. I purposely saw The Illusionist again so I could convince myself whether or not is it better than The Prestige and now I've come to the conclusion that it certainly is better than The Prestige.

The reason why I'm so hellbent on comparing the two is because they're almost similar, you know, with almost the same era (give or take few years) and all the stage acts and everything and both have in-your-face climaxes. Both are adapted from books but frankly speaking the art of story-telling is much better in this one. If The Prestige has one of modern cinema's best rivalry, then The Illusionist has one of the best romance. All the characters are greatly detailed and are played masterfully by the cast and each provide distinct identities to their performances.

Speaking of performances, the one actor who the film belongs to is Paul Giamatti as Chief Inspector Uhl, who also acts as the narrator for the first half. In my opinion, an Oscar-worthy role which, sadly, he did not get nominated for, another mistake by the Academy. Inspector Uhl is a character torn apart by his admiration for Eisenheim and his loyalty to Prince Leopold and he played it in such an aquiline manner that it's near impossible not to be bowled over by his performance. His revelation at the end (the best moment in the film) is arguably his best moment. His expression, his laugh, everything. Then of course we have Edward Norton as Eisenheim, one of the best screen heroes. Not only he handles his character masterfully but he also gives a depth and understanding to the hero. Then of course Rufus Sewell as Prince Leopold, the main antagonist, gives an equally great performance and from the others, Jessica Biel as Duchess Sophie von Teschen and Eddie Marsan as Josef Fischer. He is one of the best under-rated actors out there and I suggest you keep an eye out for him.

So, in conclusion, this is a highly recommended film from me and if you're a fan of visually beautiful moments then this a film to watch. The love story is one of the best and the chemistry shared between the principal cast is amazing. At least it's better than The Prestige!!!

8.7/10

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The Illusionist review

Posted : 3 years, 8 months ago on 15 November 2010 05:01

Even i was in a illusion that how is the person in the movie actually doing it...
it is the most mind-blasting movie and a real shocker..

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All the little holes eventually form one big one

Posted : 4 years, 9 months ago on 20 October 2009 07:08

Let's start by saying that The Illusionist is a movie that I did not like very much, but the reason is a little different than the regular reason; this movie does not suck. The story, even though admittably somewhat silly, is interesting and full of soap opera-style drama. And I mean that in a good way, you won't see an internet poker addicted former janitor or a retarded fat chick fucking her cousin here, just stylish costume drama so to speak. Though I was somewhat annoyed by the fact that we never actually found out how Eisenheim did some of his tricks, which in my opinion created a relatively large plot hole since the film actually built part of itself around the mystery of how he did one of his illusions. I can appreciate some mindfucking every once in a while, but here we never even got a slightest clue as to how he did his trick, which basically ruins all the fun of theorising since it's impossible to come up with any proof to support any theory. Also there's a twist ending, which I personally hate most of the time. They can work, but here the twist is just incredibly predictable and made in such a boring manner that I can't see how some people can enjoy it.

Norton does great here, although nowhere near as good as he did in American History X. He's more like on a Fight Club-level here, playing it low key. Unfortunately that doesn't work too well sometimes, and makes Eisenheim come off like a cocky asshole on a few occasions. That funny man you've seen in every other movie nowadays, Paul Giamatti does a good job here. I don't really understand why he has to shout all the time as inspector Uhl, but I suppose he just had some tension to let out. Biel is Biel, not a good actor and never will be, but she's pretty, and hence she does her job well here. The role of the Governor's wife really doesn't require top notch acting skills, especially since she doesn't even appear in about a third of the entire movie. The score of The Illusionist works surprisingly well, never making itself truly heard but yet keeping the happenings on screen become something more than just happenings on the screen.

There truly are no great, big flaws in The Illusionist. Only some small ones. But the plot holes are incredibly annoying, and a few perforrmances don't work too well due to the weird way the actors charecterise their roles. I'd still recommend watching this if you can ignore such flaws.

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A mediocre mystery film...

Posted : 6 years ago on 29 July 2008 06:56

"Everything you have seen here has been an illusion."


The Illusionist is an entrancing period movie, featuring subtle touches of incredulity, romance and mystery. With an ideal cast, wonderful production values and elegant cinematography, audiences will certainly find this an enthralling visual experience to behold. The competent production team have produced an admirably-constructed and visually beautiful movie. However, The Illusionist is undoubtedly not without flaws. While critics generally panned the movie and audiences tended to love it, I unfortunately must side with the critics for the most part. The film may contain an absorbing story and graceful visuals, but the film's entire duration appears far too sombre and serious. As a result, the production feels considerably disjointed. There are also far too many elements that demand an overwhelming suspension of disbelief in order to ignore. Consequently, the film possesses the capacity to keep an audience rapt like an old-fashioned card trick that we've previously witnessed several times.

Based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize winning author Steven Millhauser, the title of The Illusionist refers to the film's protagonist: a stage magician (or "illusionist" if preferred) known as Eisenheim (Norton). As a child (played by Johnson), Eisenheim formed a close bond with young Sophie von Teschen (Tomlinson). However, the two are unable to be together due to the social expectations of the period (i.e. the same form of forbidden love found in Titanic, The Notebook, etc). When Eisenheim reaches adulthood, he has grown to become an extremely popular illusionist whose skills instil enchantment in his audience. Now touring Vienna in the early 1900s, Eisenheim possesses the ability to conjure illusions that defy the bounds of the physical world. The word of Eisenheim's abilities reaches the ear of the arrogant and greedy Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell). He attends one of Eisenheim's shows, during which it is discovered that Leopold is set to marry Sophie von Teschen (now played by Biel) who has reached adulthood. Jealous of Eisenheim's abilities as well as sensing romance between Eisenheim and Sophie, Crown Prince Leopold aims to debunk the illusions and reveal Eisenheim as a fraud. Unable to complete this task, Leopold consults dogged Chief Inspector Uhl (Giamatti) to reveal the secrets surrounding the popular illusionist who has now amassed a phenomenal public following.

Movies featuring stage magic are always challenging, as the point of stage magic is to create entertaining and dazzling illusions before a live crowd. As The Illusionist is a film featuring CGI and state-of-the-art visual effects, there is already a problem. The 'magic' is lost because an audience watching a movie will not become compelled to wonder how a trick was done live...they will just dismiss it as heavy CGI. Hence none of these illusions are at all magical. Despite Ricky Jay's presence on the set as a magic consultant, the illusions performed by Eisenheim are frequently eerie and impossible beyond words. That is the point of course; however we lose interest in the character on a realistic human level. Eisenheim's magic is sometimes too overused and grows monotonous. Also, with no clear-cut explanation behind Eisenheim's skills (an explanation that isn't mythical, I mean) we again cannot see the character as a credible man. Even after saying that, there are a number of good quality magic tricks that elevate the entertainment value.

Interestingly, actor Edward Norton stepped away from the clichéd over-the-top magician embodiment. Norton is instead very detached from reality and appears extremely emotionally withdrawn. He succeeds in his objective of appearing emotionless, but he lacks any personality at all. As a consequence the film often appears very frigid and impersonal. The best performance present in the film is provided by Paul Giamatti as Chief Inspector Uhl. His portrayal is as a man whose confidence in his work (and the Crown Prince) is steadily decreasing. It appears that he is primarily responsible for the protection of the Crown Prince. This job also incorporates covering up his various lurid actions. Giamatti produces a multi-faceted and identifiable character in Uhl: a man who treads the thin line between endeavouring to serve the interests of Prince Leopold and himself, while also struggling to retain his veracity and feeling of justice. Uhl comes alive when trying to decipher Eisenheim's illusions, but he also seems recurrently and pleasantly perplexed by them at the same time. Jessica Biel doesn't seem like someone from the period. This isn't her fault, as the script didn't grant her much to work with.

Director Neil Burger shrewdly blends intrigue and romance with a nourishing dosage of misdirection. The peculiar characters mixed with largely unknown motives and enigmatic plot elements never seem to add up. Burger maintains a sturdy mood of utter solemnity throughout the film, which enhances the film's coldness. Burger also declines the opportunity to take any significant creative chances. He instead often relies on a succession of insipid cinematic devices such as the love triangle and the "twist" ending. The cinematography, on the other hand, is truly marvellous. The visuals are always amazing. Cinematographer Dick Pope presents some wonderful contributions. Each shot has the look of a vintage photograph: gold wash sometimes framed in brown edging. The art direction is stunning: the sets and costumes are all intricately created. The music as well is worth mentioning. It sets the mood and gives the impression of a fantasy.

Overall, The Illusionist is a moderately enjoyable period movie that's worth viewing for its enthralling visual flare. While some performances are questionable and there are gaping script errors, one will find this film to be adeptly-paced and terrific to watch. The suspension of disbelief required is sometimes far too demanding. I mean, all the characters reside in Vienna but never adopt any of the genuine accents. And the illusions are usually too unbelievable for a light slice of entertainment. The ending is also disappointing. It's an unpredictable twist, but in general it's too feel-good, cute and clichéd.

6.7/10



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Magical

Posted : 6 years, 10 months ago on 20 September 2007 07:04

Woah... i absolutely loved it!

This sort of showed me to NOT judge a movie by its cover, pretty obviously i thught this movie would be bad. I was completely wrong....

The story can be confusing at times, but it is really amazing what twist is at the end.
I dont think this movie gets enough credit, because i certainly had never heard of it beofre i saw it one time at the video store.

Edward Norton - what can i say! I was trying to work out through the whole movie where i knew him from another movie.
FINALLY worked out it was the italian job! But enough of that, he was great in this movie! P-E-R-F-E-C-T for his role!
Paul Giamatti - just want to say his name .. because he was another amazing actor in this movie!

Definetly would recommend this movie, especially if you like Edward Norton or 'magical' movies. This will not disappiont you!

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Wow. Bravo.

Posted : 7 years, 1 month ago on 10 June 2007 05:32

Just finished watching it, loved it.

This movie is simply amazing. It goes right in hand with "The Prestige" (though I do like the Prestige more) with it's sudden plot twists and "wha?" moments. The beginning is a little hard to understand, until you begin to see what happens.

The whole fact that magic actually exists kinda makes me go "meh" to this movie, but otherwise, it's wonderful. Wonderful acting, plot, everything. It's still very confusing at the end, though, so make sure you're paying attention.

Certainly a "woah, I guessed that part wrong" film. 8/10, I recommend it.

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Amazing film

Posted : 7 years, 6 months ago on 6 January 2007 05:00

I agree with the other review on here, this is easily one of the most beautiful and best written film this decade. The story is mesmerizing, it really draws you in, and the twist at the end, wow. I mean, wow. Even Sixth Sense's ending wasn't as shocking as this one. Eisenheim had me believing in ghosts and magic by the end.

I haven't seen 'The Departed' yet, the number one contender for the Oscars this year, but from the other 2006 films i've seen so far, this one is my absolute favorite by a mile.

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misjudged and underated - excellent!

Posted : 7 years, 6 months ago on 5 January 2007 04:22

Everyone knows the story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl. However, there is more to this story here. Set in turn-of-the-century Vienna, Norton is Herr Eisenheim, famous magician (rather, illusionist), whose stage performance has captivated the attention of the Crown Prince, who is to wed Duchess von Deschem (J. Biel), childhood friend of Eisenheim. A crime takes place, but who has done it? Chief Inspector Uhl (P. Giamatti) investigates. -- If you're not into period films, you might actually like this. If you're into such films, you'll hopefully be as captivated by “The Illusionist” as much as I was. The decor makes you feel you are actually in Vienna, the music is excellent (what more to expect from Philip Glass!), the colors and lighting are superb. Several underused actors, and not always at their best in other movies, yet I found them excellent here, and their characters' presentation is fascinating and very well set, from the beginning. Rufus Sewell (Crown Prince) might be considered as overacting, but his character demands this, as he is violent and pompous (to say the least). A wonderful directing work from Neil Burger. In my eyes, this is the most interesting script and the most beautiful film photography (and editing) of a movie picture of this decade.... so far.

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