It's 1900 Vienna, and a magician by the name of Eisenheim (Norton) has decided to use his supernatural powers to try and win the love of former childhood sweetheart, Duchess Sopie (Biel). To complicate matters, Sophie is engaged to Crown Prince Leopold (Sewell), and as tensions between the two men become palpable, deception and murder are no longer an illusion. The Illusionist is based on a short story by Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Steven Millhauser. (Jack Kelley)
There are no special features, except for on the DVD.
The 1080p AVC picture fully realizes the stylized visual intent of Writer/Director Neil Burger with a finer presentation than previously exhibited on the the anamorphically enhanced 1.85:1 DVD reviewed in Issue 117. The picture is imbued with enhanced hues of yellow and brown that are appropriate for the timeframe depicted in the storytelling. At times hues are rich and vivid and some scenes appear wonderfully natural, especially those depicting of the countryside. While details can be a little too soft in the background, close-ups of facial features and object texture are nicely revealing. Shadow delineation is still slightly off balance, but perhaps intended, given the warmly filtered visual character and torch- and candle-lit production design. The picture effectively conveys a dated 19th Century Vienna, for a wonderful cinematic experience. (Gary Reber/Danny Richelieu)
The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack, as with the DVD's Dolby® Digital 5.1-channel soundtrack, has a broad and deep front stage, but surround envelopment is generally lacking, except for the orchestral music score and subtle atmospheric sound effects. The effects of the various rooms' acoustics are delivered well, using each of the full-range channels, and dialogue is generally recorded well with excellent spatial integration. The soundtrack is enjoyable, but not as engrossing as the best. Yet the sound effectively provides impressive low-level holosonic® surround envelopment. (Gary Reber/Danny Richelieu)