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Mediocre Magic Movie Makes It to DVD: DVD Review

By Kam Williams

The Illusionist: DVD Review

Unless I'm missing something, magicians aren't really able to perform supernatural feats. Their acts, relying on sleight of hand and other distractions, are every bit as phony as that of psychics and professional wrestlers. As a result, most magicians nowadays ply their trade at kiddie's birthday parties, while some of the more successful ones, such as Penn and Teller, hold an adult audience's attention only by exposing the basis of their astounding feat with their audiences.

So, excuse me for having a hard time swallowing the premise of a film like The Illusionist, a flick predicated on the notion that people were a lot more gullible a hundred years ago. Set in Vienna in 1900, the plot revolves around the great Eisenheim (Ed Norton), an expert magician who has people convinced his tricks aren't tricks.

In fact, he's so good, a cop (Paul Giamatti) and a prince (Rufus Sewell) collaborate to expose him as a fraud. The plot thickens when the prince's fiancee' (Jessica Biel) volunteers to come up on stage to participate in a bit but falls for the dashing Eisenheim, who just happens to be a long-lost love.

This adds an unexpected layer of complication, but still, the essential question this mediocre mystery is designed to discern is whether or not the illusionist has super human powers.

A proposition strictly for the sort of folks who find pro wrestling fascinating.

Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for sexuality and violence.
Running time: 110 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Jessica Biel Interview, "The Making of" featurette, and theatrical trailers.

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