The Illusionist Neil Burger

When stacked up besides the vastly superior other magic movie of last fall, The Prestige, Neil Burger’s The Illusionist emerges as a plodding, boring piece of film that wastes its potential as a twisted psychological thriller. Starring Ed Norton as an annoyingly smarmy magician whose magic inspires legions of dedicated fans, followers and fanatics, the film has a promising premise: as Eisenheim the Illusionist, Norton’s character provides hope during a dark time in Austria’s history during the beginning of the 20th century. His illusions undermine the power of the crown prince (Rufus Sewell), but instead of making for intense drama and impressive on-screen magic the film dissolves into a ridiculous love story where everyone speaks in bizarre, affected accents that sound vaguely British. The two "making of” documentaries that accompany the DVD are little more than extended trailers, both containing much of the same footage and offering no explanations of the movie’s origins or creation. Only the commentary track with writer/director Burger serves to enhance the experience. Most notably he reveals the factual and historical basis for each of Eisenheim’s illusions, which without explanation during the film look like nothing more than CGI-produced "magic.” (Alliance Atlantis)