The Illusionist

DVD Reviews | Jan 4th, 2007

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Starring Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell, Eddie Marsan
Written By: Neil Burger
Directed By: Neil Burger
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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At first, I thought the Illusionist was going to be some stupid magician movie and would be the red-headed step child of the Prestige (another movie I have yet to see). But I was proven wrong when I finally had the chance to see this cool film! The Illusionist has great acting, interesting cinematography, and is one big magic trick of a story.

The Illusionist takes places in Vienna at the turn of the century and is about acclaimed illusionist Eisenheim (Norton). Eisenheim performs in the top theatres in Vienna, and has the opportunity of doing a trick with the Crown Prince Leopold’s (Sewell) newest fiance. Sophie von Teschen (Biel) takes the stage and Eisenheim immediately recognizes her; she is his childhood love whom he was told never to see again. Eisenheim and Sophie reunite and fall back in love with each other, but there’s that pesky problem of her being engaged to that Crown Prince jerk. Eisenheim tries to think of a way to get her free from the sadistic Crown Prince. While all this happening, Eisenheim has to deal with the Chief Inspector Uhl (Giamatti), who thinks something is up with the illusionist, either committing fraud or something else that’s suspicious. Uhl is told by the Prince to have Eisenheim followed and the Prince finds out that Sophie is with Eisenheim. Leopold gets obsessed with Eisenhelm’s illusions & his love for Sophie and tries to stop him. A crime is committed and the Inspector finds himself right in the middle of it all.

I was pleasantly surprised how much I liked The Illusionist. I went into the movie without really knowing anything about the plot or characters, and came out loving the film. I thought the film would have gotten a response out of me like “eh it was okay” but nope. I thought the film was really cool and it makes me want to watch it again. Just everything about the movie was good. The acting was great, the story was really cool and interesting, the score from Philip Glass was awesome and the cinematography & look of the movie looked really cool. It looked like it was an old fashion movie, and the coloration was all off. I thought this was another movie where Paul Giamatti stole the movie, and I thought this was one of his better roles because he didn’t have his usual accent. He had this deep European voice and it sounded realistic. Plus his character was really likable, but at the same time you didn’t want him to win fully. You root for Eisenheim to win against the Inspector, and the Crown Prince but you don’t want the Inspector to lose totally. I don’t know what it is about Rufus Sewell, but the man plays royal douchebags really well. He needs to get out of these period pieces where he plays the bad guy because he’s been in too many movies like that. The ending was really great because you didn’t expect what was going to happen. I knew something was up, just didn’t know how it was done. Just like any other illusion, you know it can’t be real but you just don’t know the secrets. The ending felt like the Usual Suspects ending a little bit but wasn’t really THAT similar that it makes you scream ripoff.

I’m kind of disappointed in the extras on this DVD. There’s audio commentary with writer/director Neil Burger but since I didn’t see the movie before I didn’t want to listen to that. There’s a making of featurette but there wasn’t that much material in it. And the Jessica Biel on the Illusionist featurette wasn’t that great either. I wish they put more time into making the featurettes for this DVD.

If you want to see a cool period film that has mystery, romance, and excitement than the Illusionist is the movie you want to see. Ed Norton and Paul Giamatti both were great in their respective roles and Jessica Biel wasn’t bad either. The direction was fantastic and the story was really interesting. Check out this DVD now!

– Commentary by writer/directed Neil Burger
– Making of The Illusionist featurette
– Jessica Biel on The Illusionist
– Theatrical Trailer

ENGLISH: Dolby Digital 5.1

Widescreen 1.78:1 Color

English, Spanish

Favorite Scenes: I liked all the scenes with Paul Giamatti, and when Ed Norton was doing his magic stuff. The ending was good because you figure out everything that happened.
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 110 minutes
Extras Rating:
Overall Rating: