A couple of nights ago we watched The Prestige. It was a really well-made film with an excellent cast, but there was something about it that left me dissatisfied. After a couple of days thought I think I know what it is.
The Prestige is a science fiction film. That’s not a problem at all. I enjoy a good science fiction film. Many of my favourite films are science fiction films. The problem with The Prestige is that you don’t know it’s a science fiction film right until the very end. All though the film you’ve been labouring under the misapprehension that the film is set in our universe with our physical laws (it even has a historical character in it to reinforce that impression).
But right at the end you discover that it’s not set in our universe at all. It’s set in an alternative universe that looks like ours but where Tesla discovered a way to instantaneously clone people (and things) in the nineteenth century.
So you spend a couple of hours trying to work out what’s going on. Only to discover in the last ten minutes that there’s no way you could have worked it out because the solution involves a total violation of the laws of physics.
It’s science fiction by stealth. And I consider that to be cheating.