Review: SHUTTER ISLAND (R)

Leonardo DiCaprio never really knows what he's doing in "Shutter Island."

U.S. Release Date: February 19, 2010

Running Time: 138 minutes

MPAA Classification: R (Language, violence, brief nudity)

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Patricia Clarkson, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer, Jackie Earle Haley, John Carroll Lynch, Ted Levine

Director: Martin Scorsese

Producers: Martin Scorsese, Bradley J. Fischer, Arnold W. Messer, Mike Medavoy, Jeffrey Clifford, Daniel Dubiecki, Gary Barber, Roger Birnbaum

Screenplay: Laeta Kalogridis, Steven Knight, based upon the novel by Dennis Lehane

 

By STEPHEN EARNEST / July 19, 2011

In a long line of bad-looking movies, Shutter Island comes right in at the worst-looking of 2010. Being a Martin Scorsese film, one would expect it to be a a great and enjoyable watch, but despite all of the twists and turns that it takes, it’s not. In fact, it’s fairly routine for this kind of genre. I’ve seen a lot of films that unfold the same way, and they do it a lot better. Granted, Shutter Island does get better as it goes along, but only by a little bit. For the most part, it wallows in the same amount of mediocrity for its entirety and provided me with the same thing I’ve seen a thousand times before.

One good thing is that the performance from the always trustworthy Leonardo DiCaprio is decidedly solid. He plays Teddy Daniels, a U.S. Marshall that has been sent to investigate the disappearance of a patient at a hospital for the criminally insane. The hospital is located on Shutter Island, an island somewhere in the Boston Harbor.

The staff at Shutter Island seems oddly complacent, despite their surroundings. Everyone is oddly eerie. Daniels (DiCaprio), assisted by his partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), begins to investigate. That’s when things start getting a little too creepy for his liking. Right around this time the film’s first big twist occurs. Daniels reveals to Chuck his real reason for coming to the hospital in the first place. Apparently, his wife was killed in a house fire some two years back and the arsonist responsible for her death is being held at Shutter Island. Daniels took on the case so he could confront the arsonist, Andrew Laeddis.

Now, I’ll abandon the synopsis and begin by listing the downfalls of Shutter Island.

Besides DiCaprio, the acting was stiff and unbelievable. Everyone seems oddly campy. There’s a chilling cameo from gifted actor Ted Levine but, for the most part, DiCaprio’s the only one that seems to have actual feelings and emotions throughout the entire movie. The other actors are stiff and unconvincing and act as if they’re in on some big, stupid joke. Maybe it has something to do with the ending of the movie. Do I know? Do I care? Does it really matter?

The cinematography was bland and uninspired. Almost every scene was badly-lit and the continuity was a mess. This just isn’t Scorsese’s kind of film. What was he thinking? It’s agonizing to watch everything unravel, and boy does it unravel. The biggest, most unbelievably bad part about Shutter Island was the CGI. Good God! What awful visual effects. Half the time, I thought I was watching a 3D film, but not wearing the glasses.  I have a fair warning to Scorsese, wherever he may be, and that warning is to stay away from CGI in the future. His use of the green screen as well is horrifying.

Now, I have heard that many have been baffled by the film’s ending, saying that it was one of the most spectacular and unpredictable endings yet. I frankly don’t understand that. They claimed to have never saw it coming. It apparently threw them back and caused them to gasp. Uh, was that their first time watching a movie? Were they really that surprised? It’s one of the most overused “twist” endings in history. Hell, I knew how it was going to end from the trailer. What I wasn’t expecting was how bad it was actually going to turn out.

In the end, Shutter Island is a movie that received too much hype and those who view it long after its release will find it as disappointing as I did — that is, of course, if they have a decent taste in cinema and don’t enjoy inflicting pain upon themselves.

RATING: 1.5/4

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