They’re both about magicians, they’re both set in the late 19th century and they both have literary roots, Neil Burger’s The Illusionist being based on a short story by American writer Steven Milhouse and Christopher Nolan’s The Prestige on a book by British novelist Christopher Priest.
But to give each movie its due, beyond face value they actually aren’t all that similar. At the heart of The Illusionist is a lovelorn magician played by Edward Norton who uses his trickery to reunite with forbidden love interest Jessica Biel, whereas The Prestige is a story of obsession and rivalry between feuding stage magicians played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman with a little bit of sci-fi thrown in for good measure.
Which One Was Better?
Both films were a hit with critics and made plenty at the box office, so this is a close one. They’re both great movies, but The Prestige has the edge when it comes to plot twists and entertainment value.
Plus, The Prestige has a brilliant cameo from the late, great David Bowie as Nikola Tesla which gives it a zillion bonus points. Sorry, The Illusionist.