The Prestige: 6 Magician Movies That Dare to Amaze

Friday, May 11 by John Coon

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<p style= Magicians hold a captivating appeal for many people. From simple card tricks to complex illusions, they dazzle audiences with their ability to manipulate their environment to make people see what they want them to see. Movie magicians take it a step further. Some have actual magic powers. Others are complex characters motivated by greed and competition. Like their real world counterparts, they can captivate an audience. These six magician-centric movies take you inside worlds of illusion and mystery.

"The Prestige" (2006):

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Leave it to Christopher Nolan to create the definitive magician movie. Nolan's tale centers on a pair of rival 19th Century illusionists played by Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale who go to great lengths to outdo each other in their magic acts. It takes some dark twists and turns as both magicians are overcome by revenge and envy until tragic consequences result for both. "The Prestige" is one more reason why Nolan is one of the best modern directors.

"The Illusionist" (2006):

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Using magic to find love? That's the theme of this turn-of-the century love story. Edward Norton portrays a stage magician who is in love with a noblewoman who is above his social class. Faced with the prospect of being killed if he pursues a relationship, he fakes her death and frames the crown prince who threatened his life. Seems like a lot of trouble for romance. Then again, it is Jessica Biel he is pursuing. Enough said. 

"Magic" (1978):

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Anthony Hopkins is a master at playing creepy villains. Things are no different in 'Magic," where he plays a mentally disturbed magician/ventriloquist named Corky. The darker elements of Corky's personality manifest in his dummy and he begins to kill people in pursuit of the woman he loves. Next step: eating their livers with fava beans and a nice chianti.

"Lord of Illusions" (1995):

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Horror novels by Clive Barker are full of nightmarish imagery and grotesque monsters. A magician fits in perfectly with that environment as "Lord of Illusions" proves. Scott Bakula plays a private detective who investigates murders perpetuated by a cult devoted to an illusionist who uses real magic to gain followers. He needs help from another illusionist to survive the encounter with the cult leader. It is a unique take on the whole magician thing.

"Next" (2007):

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Is it safe to say magicians will do anything to be with Jessica Biel? This time around, it is a Las Vegas magician played by Nicholas Cage who consents to help the FBI foil a terrorist bombing plot in order to save the life of a waitress played by Biel. He can see two minutes into the future and uses this gift to stay a step ahead of his adversaries. It's also a useful ability for guessing winning lottery numbers and making the right Super Bowl picks at the sports book.

"Houdini" (1953):

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	Tony Curtis tackles one of his early roles in this <span data-scayt_word=biopic of Harry Houdini — the world's most famous magician and illusionist. Many of the details don't mesh with Houdini's actual life. "Houdini" shows him dying when his water torture cell illusion goes wrong. In reality, Houdini died from Peritonitis after receiving several blows to the abdomen that caused his appendix to rupture. "Houdini" simply adds to the myth and legend surrounding the title character.