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Martin Scorsese
Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Michelle Williams, Ben Kingsley
Writing Credits:
Laeta Kalogridis

In 1954, a US marshal investigates the disappearance of a murderess who escaped from a hospital for the criminally insane.

Box Office:
$80 million.
Opening Weekend
$41,062,440 on 2991 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated R

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
English Audio Description
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 138 min.
Price: $15.00
Release Date: 6/8/2010

• “Behind the Shutters” Featurette
• “Into the Lighthouse” Featurette


Panasonic TC-P60VT60 60-Inch 1080p 600Hz 3D Smart Plasma HDTV; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


Shutter Island [Blu-Ray] (2010)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 1, 2017)

Despite all the plaudits and praise earned by Martin Scorsese over the years, the director never became much of a box office draw. That said, he managed to find better commercial success late in his career, as all four of his movies that made $100 million or better in the US came out from 2004 to date.

In second place on that list comes 2010’s Shutter Island, a thriller with a creepy vibe that makes it unusual in the Scorsese filmography. Set in 1954, we go to Ashecliffe Hospital for the Criminally Insane, a complex that resides on Shutter Island in Boston Harbor.

This location hosts two US Marshals: Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo). They come to the facility to investigate the disappearance of a patient named Rachel Solando.

The Marshals soon find a much deeper plot on Shutter Island. As he digs into the complications, Teddy also confronts the real reason he requested the assignment.

If you look at Scorsese’s filmography, only one movie seems similar to Shutter in terms of genre: 1991’s Cape Fear, another thriller. Like Island, Cape Fear did reasonably well at the box office, but I must admit the 1991 flick left me cold, largely due to its over the top nature.

While I hoped Island wouldn’t suffer from the same fate, it does. Maybe “psychological thriller” just isn’t Scorsese’s bag, as Island offers a messy, less than stimulating piece of work.

Like Cape Fear, Island comes with a good pedigree. It adapts a novel from Dennis Lehane, an author whose works Gone Baby Gone and Mystic River turned into high-quality movies. Island also boasts an excellent cast, with talent all up and down the line.

None of this means much if the filmmaker lacks a connection to the material, and that seems to be the case with Island, as Scorsese never grounds himself here. I get the impression Scorsese remains an “outsider” who can’t find much of a connection to the tale.

That causes problems, as Scorsese’s best films managed some form of link to the filmmaker’s life or interests. Whether related to his Italian-American heritage or to his status as a New Yorker or to his religious devotion, one can pretty easily locate a correlation between Scorsese’s beliefs/past and his most successful efforts.

As far as I can tell, Island fails to present any similar connection, and I get the feeling Scorsese works here essentially as a “hired gun”. It seems that he liked the screenplay and decided to give it a whirl.

Which is fine, and for another director, this apparent absence of personal meaning probably would be less detrimental. In Scorsese’s hands, though, I think his failure to find a real connection to the tale proves problematic, as he never seems to invest in it to a significant degree.

Like his version of Cape Fear, Island brings us a Scorsese devoid of nuance. He imbues the film with all sorts of over the top moments, all of which make it grating and tough to embrace. Even when the narrative should draw us in, Scorsese’s overly dramatic choices keep us at a distance.

This lack of subtlety stretches to other areas, and it doesn’t help that Island seems awfully long for a genre flick of this sort. At 138 minutes, it doesn’t know when to quit, and fatigue starts to set in well before the credits roll.

Not that I’m sure a shorter Island would work much better, though at least it might feel less redundant. Too much of the film seems to make the same points over and over, and it turns into little more than one creepy dream-like sequence after another.

All of these come with diminishing results, especially since the movie’s “secrets” and “twists” become obvious early. To avoid spoilers, I won’t detail these, but I can state that nothing that materializes along the way comes as a shock. Scorsese treats the story in such a blunt manner that it lacks the ability to surprise the viewer – everything seems so “off” that we fail to find drama in the inevitable conclusion.

Not even the excellent cast can elevate this tale. DiCaprio and the rest mostly overact and leave no room for nuance in their characters.

As he approaches his 75th birthday, I remain glad that Scorsese continues to work, as he maintains the ability to create quality films. Unfortunately, Shutter Island represents a “swing and a miss”, as the movie fails to deliver anything more than a lackluster thriller.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus C

Shutter Island appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a strong presentation.

Overall, sharpness seemed very good. Some interiors came across as slightly soft, but the vast majority of the film appeared accurate and concise. Jagged edges and moiré effects didn’t mar the presentation, and I saw no edge haloes. Print flaws also failed to appear.

In terms of palette, Island went with a heavily teal orientation. Splashes of other hues appeared on occasion, but they remained in a distinct minority in this strong blue affair. Within stylistic choices, the hues seemed well-depicted. Blacks were dark and dense, and low-light shots gave us good clarity. I felt pleased with this solid transfer.

Similar thoughts greeted the fairly good DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Island, as the soundfield mostly delivered a mix heavy on atmosphere. Ominous noises cropped up in the side and rear speakers, and scare moments added to the track. Those elements created a nice sense of place and added impact to the material.

Audio quality satisfied. Speech sounded crisp and distinctive, and music appeared robust and full. Effects were accurate and dynamic. Low-end response showed good thump and richness. Nothing here dazzled, but the audio merited a “B”.

Two featurettes appear here: Behind the Shutters (17:10) and Into the Lighthouse (21:11). Across these, we hear from director Martin Scorsese, author Dennis Lehane, psychiatric consultant Dr. James Gilligan, production designer Dante Ferretti, and actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Michelle Williams, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsley.

The programs cover the source novel and its adaptation, story and characters, cast and performances, Scorsese’s approach to the material, music, the tale’s psychiatric backdrop, sets and locations. Though parts of these shows focus too much on happy talk, they still come with good information, especially related to the complexities of the narrative.

Though I admire Martin Scorsese’s willingness to stretch his cinematic boundaries, Shutter Island indicates that he lacks much aptitude for psychological thrillers. Scorsese makes too much of the film’s subtext obvious so the end result lacks nuance or impact. The Blu-ray presents very good picture and audio along with two fairly informative featurettes. Island winds up as a misfire.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.8666 Stars Number of Votes: 15
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