Skip to content

Shutter Island (2010)

February 22, 2010

6/10 Loony Bins

Took a month and a half to get there, but not a bad way to finally kick off 2010.

Shutter Island is about a U.S. Marshall in the 1950s who’s sent out to investigate the sudden disappearance of a criminally insane patient at mental institution set comfortably in the middle of the freakin’ ocean. He starts asking questions, doesn’t get any answers, quickly discovers that some shady stuff is going down and tries to get to the bottom of it before he finds himself locked up with the rest of these wackos.

Can’t say I was all too psyched to see this when the first trailers starting appearing roughly three years ago, but since pushing the release date back six months and booting up some new previews that made it look a hell of a lot better than just Leo muttering to himself with his “Boston accent”, I was looking forward to making this my first movie of the new year. Sure wasn’t gonna make it Dear John.

This here is the latest Scorsese/DiCaprio project- or “Scorprio” as I like to call them (that is totally gonna catch on) – and this little artist/muse vibe they’ve got going seems to be working out just fine. Still not totally sold on DiCaprio and I’ve never understood it when folks say that Goodfellas is better than The Godfather, but The Departed wasn’t too bad and this isn’t either.

From a visual standpoint, Scorsese’s tip top. Look, the guy’s been directing for 90 years, he knows how to make a movie look sharp. Nor does it hurt that the set pieces are out of sight, not that making a prison ward for psycho killers the creepiest thing ever can be all that hard of a feat to tackle. So, yeah, Scorsese’s good as usual.

But the real strength of this movie is its cast. Leo’s good as everyone’s favorite U.S. Marshall, Teddy Daniels, but Shutter Island is absolutely chock full of kickass actors who all bring something great to the mix. Ben Kingsley’s the bomb because he’s Ben Kingsley, Jackie Earle Haley is also awesome as he continues to confirm his status as one of my favorite guys out there right now, and the performances by Michelle Williams, Max von Sydow and Mark Ruffalo among others are all solid, too. Always great to see a cast where everyone rocks in equal parts without overshadowing one another.

So, for the most part, things are turning up Shutter Island, but then we get to the script and the pacing. Maybe I was just antsy or maybe it had something to do with me being hungover at the time, but this movie took forever to get through. So many scenes just drag on and on and on where the characters ramble like gangbusters instead of cutting to the chase or it’ll cut to a lengthy dream sequence mid-conversation that didn’t seem like it was supposed to be there and only draws things out further. And while it does pick up in a big way by the final Act where all the loose ends get tied up and everything clicks, trying to figure stuff out for an hour and a half when you’re totally out of the loop and everything’s making less and less sense can be a pretty frustrating experience. Such is not always the case with movies, but it was this time around.

The dialogue’s good and the script isn’t poorly written in the least, it just felt so damn long is all. Not sure who’s to blame on this one, might even point the finger at me this time, but something didn’t work and it didn’t suck me in like I hoped it would.

Then again, I saw this with my good buddy Fred and he still doesn’t know what the hell I’m talking about. Fred didn’t have any of the problems I did with Shutter Island, was totally captivated from start to finish and being that Fred’s opinions are usually pretty spot-on, this is something to take into consideration.

But hey, there hasn’t been a thing out in theaters for roughly two months now that I would have dropped 12 bucks to sit through, so I’d say this is your best bet at the moment. Not perfect and I’m betting the book is better (have it on good authority that it’s quite awesome in fact), but Shutter Island redeems itself enough in the end that I’d go ahead and recommend it.

Scorprio. You heard it here first, folks.

22 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2010 7:37 am

    that is genius
    way better than Scorniro

  2. February 22, 2010 11:10 am

    Only a couple days before I see this… I can’t wait 🙂 I guess this movie sorts of mark the end of winter for me.

  3. Nick H permalink
    February 22, 2010 4:01 pm

    If the only beef you had against it was it’s slow pacing, why did you give 6/10? I think it was a solid 8, the conclusion more than made up for some of it’s shortcomings.

    • February 22, 2010 4:03 pm

      Just wasn’t crazy about it, found it more boring than exciting. Looked really good, but could have been told better so I wasn’t checking my watch every ten minutes. You would give it an 8, jerky.

    • Audrey permalink
      February 22, 2010 8:39 pm

      Nick, I always knew you were the best cousin!

  4. February 22, 2010 5:11 pm

    Those dream sequences did lag on for a bit too long, but the reason I liked it so much cause the big twist at the end of the film actually did seem reasonable and not played as a gimmick at all.

  5. February 23, 2010 8:14 am

    I gotta agree with Nick. The way you talk about this sucker, a score of 6 seems low. I vote you give it another spin (sober this time) and see if a second viewing increases your overall impression.

    By the by, if you’re interested, Big Mike and I podcasted about this movie and about Scorsese in general during my latest podcast episode.

    • February 23, 2010 10:52 am

      OUTRAGEOUS! This is a freakin’ mutiny!

      Honestly, this one was more of a 4 for me until the final Act. Definitely had some good stuff going for it, but it just didn’t grab me, felt more frustrated and indifferent than intrigued while watching it. Willing to give it another go around though. Will definitely give your podcast a listen.

  6. February 23, 2010 5:58 pm

    I’m with Aiden on this one. This film was never as compelling as it could have been.

    That being said, given the divergence of opinions and the talk of people saying it’s a totally different experience the second time around I’ll probably give this one a rewatch later in the year before passing final judgment.

    • February 23, 2010 6:49 pm

      Atta boy, James. I knew I liked you.

      Willing to give it another watch as well. Will report back.

  7. February 24, 2010 11:37 am

    Mutiny-schmutiny, I’m not tellin’ ya to re-review it, just give it one more kick at the can. It will make for an interesting experience given that you know how it all plays out.

    And if/when you do listen to the podcast, let me know what you think!

  8. Branden permalink
    February 27, 2010 5:36 pm

    Scorprio? I swear for second, I thought you wrote Serpico. My dyslexia kicking in.

    I’m sorry that you didn’t enjoy the film. The movie was supposed to be longer, Travis from “Movie Encyclopedia” thinks it has jarring cuts. Besides, the glass, cigarette, facial positions and ring on Teddy’s finger.

    The movie’s twist left a lot to be desired, but I enjoyed the ride.

    • February 28, 2010 1:11 pm

      Yeah, I can see myself giving it another watch one of these days, but it just didn’t grab me the first time around. Did a lot of things well and the last Act was much better than everything that came before it, just thought it dragged on and on. Still, wasn’t bad.

  9. Uncle Fran permalink
    March 1, 2010 11:47 am

    Nick’s right, 6 out of 10 is a crap rating, should be at least an “8”. Thankfully I inquired with other sources and went to see this movie. Cut the crap Aiden.

    • March 1, 2010 11:54 am

      Haha, not surprised to see this comment whatsoever. Go back to your Cinderella Man, Fran. The “6” stays.

  10. Pablo Chiste permalink
    March 2, 2010 12:57 pm

    Nice review again. For my spoiler free review check out

    Spoilers here—–

    If Ruffalo’s last line to Leo meant the whole thing was in fact a conspiracy I love the movie. If it doesn’t mean that I’ll pretend it did anyway.

    • March 2, 2010 1:00 pm

      Yeah, I don’t think he was saying it was in fact a conspiracy, more like the guy was hopeless so Ruffalo played into it one last time because there was no use trying to convince him otherwise. Liked Leo’s last line though, good stuff.

  11. Pete H permalink
    March 11, 2010 1:09 am


    Doing a great job on the reviews but have to take major issue with the 6 for Shutter Island. This is the first time I have had an issue, usually you are right on target. Amazing film, that will appreciate greatly over time.

    • March 11, 2010 8:33 am

      Man oh man, I’m not gonna hear the end of this at the next Haggerty get-together am I?

      Am definitely willing to give it another shot because I think I’ll like it more knowing what’s actually going on from the start instead of just feeling frustrated at trying to figure out a story that keeps on contradicting itself without explanation. But still, not a bad movie, just not a great movie is all.

  12. June 8, 2010 12:46 pm

    Wasn’t a fan of this like all my friends. I’d only give it 2.5/5, It looks great, has great direction, Leo is great, but the script blows. I knew the twist after 20-30 minutes, making the movie boring as hell because it relied on that final twist. A lot of scenes coulda been shorter to. Great review, and Scorprio is genius.


  1. The Top Ten of 2010 « Cut The Crap Movie Reviews

Leave a Reply to James Blake Ewing Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: