Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A Mini-Movie Review: Shutter Island (2010)

Shutter Island (2010)
Director - Martin Scorsese
138 Min; R
Teddy Daniels - Leonardo DiCaprio
Chuck Aule - Mark Ruffalo
Dr. Cawley - Ben Kingsley
Dr. Naehring - Max von Sydow
Dolores - Michelle Williams

I think the people behind the making of this film knew exactly what they had on their hands when they decided to release it at the start of a year (typically a time where not too much is going on as far as movies go) in that what they have is a very good movie, but not a great movie, and setting it loose on the public against a deluge of pretty awful other choices made sure that it would be a success.

Don't get me wrong, this is a pretty darn good suspensful thriller, and everyone involved does a good job with their roles. The island itself takes on a life as a character through the eyes of the director Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio as the federal agent investigating the disappearance of an insane asylum escapee does some fine work. You don't need to know more details of the plot - think of a stormy island off of Boston that holds insane criminals in a slightly post-WWII setting and a strange unfolding mystery.

But that is where things sort of end. If I were grading this as a teacher the report card would probably be an across the board B+, a solid showing but with room for improvement. Where would improvement come from? That's the tricky part. For me, this film was such a throwback and compilation of past great films and techniques that the simple fact that I feel like I have seen this movie before just makes it fall short. Sure, many films are remakes or retellings of very familiar things, but this one was also trying very hard to make us aware that we were watching a film using those techniques.

I enjoyed this film and I got my money out of it, but I'm not going to throw it a perfect score because it has an all-star cast and production crew.

*** and 1/2 out of 5

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