04/21/2015  
Always Woodstock on DVD Apr 28The Strain: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray & DVD Jun 9A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on Blu-ray & DVD Apr 21Science Fiction Theatre: The Complete Series on DVD May 12Rogue: Complete Second Season on DVD May 19That Man from Rio (1964) & Up to His Ears (1965) on Blu-ray & DVD Apr 4Masterpiece Mystery: Grantchester on Blu-ray & DVD Apr 7

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

Always Woodstock on DVD Apr 28...
Rita Wilson diagnosed with breast cancer ...
Suzanne Somers on elimination from 'Dancing With The St...
The Strain: The Complete First Season on Blu-ray & DVD ...
20 of the Most Hated Women in Hollywood...
DWTS' Maksim Chmerkovskiy and Meryl Davis: Reunited and...
Barry Manilow Marries Manager Garry Kief ...
Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk Were the Stars of Robe...
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night on Blu-ray & DVD Apr 2...
James Best dies at 88; actor played sheriff in 'Dukes o...



Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

20th Century Fox presents
The Illusionist (2006)

Eisenheim: Are you completely corrupt?
Uhl: No, no, not completely. No.

- Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti

Review By: Jon Danziger  
Published: February 01, 2007

Stars: Edward Norton, Paul Giamatti, Jessica Biel, Rufus Sewell
Director: Neil Burger

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexuality and violence
Run Time: 01h:48m:51s
Release Date: January 09, 2007
UPC: 024543402374
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A A-BB C

DVD Review

It's always been tough to make a convincing movie about a magician—we know on some level that the camera can be the greatest trickster of them all, and especially in our time of CGI, we've become inured to seeing fantastic, impossible images as a matter of course. What would induce gasps in other times provokes only yawns in ours; add to this the challenge of filming some of the fiction by Steven Millhauser, a terrific writer but whose seductive and sinuous exercises in points of view and unreliable narrators seem to defy being put successfully onto the screen, and you get a sense of the challenge that lay before the filmmakers here. (The movie is based on a Millhauser short story.) A tip of the homburg, then, to Neil Burger, who adapted the story for the screen and directed The Illusionist, an artfully spun tale that's both intriguing and enchanting.

The setup has the feel of a fairy tale—it's even set in the Vienna woods of the nineteenth century. Eduard, a working-class adolescent, despite his good nature, is quickly branded as the boy from the wrong side of the tracks—the fetching young Sophie is the Duchess van Taschen, and a romance with a peasant boy is absolutely out of the question. Eduard is forced to disappear, and we quickly vault ahead some fifteen years, the young man returning as Eisenheim the Illusionist, who practices the dark arts. His magic show has made him the toast of Vienna, and attracted the attention of the crown prince; he comes to Eisenheim's show with his intended, who of course is our Sophie, now all grown up and still holding a place in her heart for her first love.

Edward Norton plays Eisenheim, and he combines an earnestness with something more sinister—we know the fellow always has another ace up his sleeve, but there's no denying his charm, especially if you're the Duchess, played by Jessica Biel. The prince's bagman becomes Eisenheim's Javert, and as Chief Inspector Walter Uhl, Paul Giamatti seriously gets his James Mason on—he may have the most expressive face of any actor working in movies today, and his arched eyebrows and sidelong glances give dimensionality to a character that might have been little more than political ambition in a policeman's uniform. Everyone in the cast uses a vaguely Austrian accent—the dialect coach might have rode herd a little more tightly, as the diction meanders now and again, but it transports us to the period convincingly enough.

Burger is wonderful at suggesting that Eisenheim may in fact be messing with the primal forces of nature, and the notes of magic realism are struck delicately enough that they never seem preposterous. The filmmaking style is deliberately old-fashioned as well, with irises in and out as the favored method of transition, and a decidedly Old World sepia tone to the print. To discuss the plot any more extensively would rob you of the pleasures of watching it unfold; and the movie has an absolute kicker of an ending. The whole undertaking likely will strike some as too cerebral or mechanical—if you were the little kid who watched the magic show and shouted out how you thought the tricks were done rather than giving yourself over to them, you may sneer at The Illusionist. But if you do, it's your loss; let yourself go and pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: A-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Occasional scratches on the print are the only thing that mar the transfer; I should note that dOc was sent a screener disc for purposes of review, so with the final product, your mileage may vary.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Philip Glass' score may be interesting on its own merits, but on some level it seems like the one aspect of the filmmaking that's egregiously out of tone with the rest of the piece. (It's the same problem we saw with his score for The Hours.) Otherwise, the audio transfer is clean enough, with some rumblings on the low end of the scale.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 28 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Winter Passing, Find Me Guilty, Haven
2 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by Neil Burger
Packaging: Unknown
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Burger's commentary track connects the usual dots—he describes the origins of the project (with a nod to David Blaine), discusses the location shoot in the Czech Republic, and talks us through a lot of what's sleight of hand, and what's computer enhanced. But about halfway home he seems to run out of material, and is reduced to simply narrating the story back at us. He comes across as a very bright and talented guy, but you sort of wish he had brought in some of the other filmmakers to fill out the track. Aside from some trailers, the only other extras are a pair of pedestrian making-of pieces, one focusing on the film's leading lady (Jessica Biel on The Illusionist), which runs barely 90 seconds, and The Making of The Illusionist, clips padded out with junket interview footage from Biel, Norton, Giamatti, and Rufus Sewell, who really is rather smashing as Crown Prince Leopold.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

A devilish, stylish entertainment, one that can cast its spell over even the most cynical among us, and that features Giamatti and Norton having a ripping good time.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

drama, celebrity, rita wilson, tom hanks, fish in the dark, larry david, television, abc, dancing with the stars, suzanne somers, tony dovolani, suzanne sizzles, horror, movies, angelina jolie, gwyneth paltrow, leann rimes, katherine heigl, jennifer lopez, photos, sway: a dance trilogy, maksim chmerkovskiy, meryl davis, music, barry manilow, gary kief, married, copacabana, brad falchuck, robert downey jr., glee, chris martin, jennifer lawrence, james best, died, sheriff rosco p. coltrane, the twilight zone, andy griffith show, gunsmoke, dukes of hazzard, big bang theory, christine baranski, laurie metcalf, sci-fi, kim kardashian north west, keeping up with the kardashians, kanye west, joni mitchell, morgellons, joni mitchell: in her own words, mary leitao, comedy, cynthia lennon, john lennon, cancer, julian lennon, paul mccartney, ringo starr, movie, furious 7, paul walker, james wan, universal pictures, mystery, rolling stones, 15-city tour, keith richards, mick jagger, ronnie wood, charlie watts, san diego, cable, comedy channel, daily show, jon stewart, trevor noag, musical, one direction, zayn malik quits, 2015 lollapalooza, florence and the machine, sam smith, metallica, charlotte mckinney, keo motsepe, redfoo, rumer willis, valchmerkovskiy, action, the walking dead, noah, aiden, deanna, father gabriel, rick, carol

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store