Review: Shutter Island

guest blogger logan j. fowler returns with his review of Shutter Island …

It seems that pairing up Martin Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio has become as common as the combination of peanut butter and jelly these days. But if ain’t broke, why fix it?

As I walked out of the screening for their newest product, I was encountered by a large guy in a suit who asked me and my group of friends how the movie was, and then who rambled on how he hasn’t liked DiCaprio since Titanic, and then referred to him as another name for a cat. Hopefully you got the reference. If not, well, I can’t write it.

The point is, DiCaprio, for me at least, has completely overshadowed his pretty-boy persona since 1996 when a big boat sunk in the water, and really has demonstrated that he can act worth a damn. Obviously, Scorcese, a celebrated film director who continues to crank out interesting and more-than-watchable films, knows Leo was capable of this, because the guy has worked with him on several films.

The latest, Shutter Island is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane. The main character, U.S. Marshal Teddy Daniels (DiCaprio,) has been called in to do a search for a missing murderer in an asylum on Shutter Island. The island houses some of the world’s most dangerous criminals, but as Daniels keeps referring to the escaped person as a prisoner, Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), the head doctor at the Island, keeps referring to them as a “patient.” DiCaprio, along with partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), begin to search every nook and cranny looking for clues to lead to the escapee, learning that Shutter Island isn’t what it seems, and as the details unfold, it also appears that Daniel’s intent on taken the case were also for personal reasons. In the same vein, as he discovers more and more about the island, it appears that the procedures the doctors are using on their patients are not exactly run of the mill, in essence.

When I first saw the trailers for Shutter Island, it looked really good. But I was disappointed at how not scary it was. Except for a few sudden “boo!” moments, it did not have a psychological effect on me. Movies that scare me are those that get stuck in my head and make me think- The Exorcist, Seven, or Silence Of The Lambs, being prime examples. Blood and gore can only go so far. Shutter Island was, I thought, going to be one of those movies. I was unfortunately let down.

Also, while the film isn’t long in theory (two hours and 18 minutes — yes, this may sound long to some people but paying a lot for a movie ticket, I want more movie for my money), it does tend to drag at points, all the way up to it’s semi predictable ending.

That’s not to say the movie isn’t any good. In fact, it is beautifully shot, and the music is probably the creepiest part of the movie. The cast, DiCaprio aside, is great, with Michele Williams as Daniel’s late wife, Max Van Sydow (“THE POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS YOU!”) as a creepy German doctor, and Ruffalo as Daniel’s partner. They all put in hard work in this one. Also, Kingsley plays his role with great effect, making you like him at first, then, just like the Marshals, begin to question what the hell is going on in his head.

Finally, DiCaprio, the lead, has another great performance to add to resume. He makes you really sympathize with the character and what he is trying to do, because his personal ties to the island are extremely unfortunate. And clearly, the man should keep working with Mr. Scorsese as much as he can, because they know how to put a good flick on the silver screen.

I’ll take another peanut butter and jelly sandwich, please. And for those of you have a peanut allergy, I guess another good combination would be buffalo wings and beer?


  1. I too used to have that DiCaprio stigma of pretty boyish looks that kept me away from his movies, but he has come of age. I guess he just didn’t have the dark brooding looks required for the serious role, being a teen idol isn’t the best way to start your career as a serious actor, but he outgrew this a long time ago as soon as people started seeing he was actually a great actor… regardless of the public perceptions… nice review

  2. So, which opinion are you? In the end of the movie, what really happens? Does he relapse or does he act like he relapsed? I have my pov but would like to hear yours first 🙂