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REVIEW: Shutter Island

Leonardo DiCaprio shines in this film noir

Shutter Island

Shutter Island

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  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels in "Shutter Island."
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People are either going to love this or hate it. I’m not sure why. I thought it was good, but not great.

It might’ve been a great Twilight Zone episode. It might’ve been a great film if 30 minutes were cut out and some of the uneven elements worked on.

The movie was an Escape From Alcatraz meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

While watching it, you might also think about Cape Fear, The Shining, Spellbound and a handful of other pictures.

Martin Scorsese doing a psychological thriller - that probably wouldn’t have worked in the hands of other directors - is good here. Sure, it would’ve been better in the hands of Orsen Wells or Alfred Hitchcock, but this is still better than most movies out in theaters right now.

On a rare rainy day in San Diego, to walk in and see the stormy weather and atmosphere on screen, is a decent way to spend the evening.

Someone once asked my definition of film noir. The first thing I said was, “They smoke a lot of cigarettes, wear a lot of hats and some character usually has a Band-Aid on his face.”

Check to all that here.

The film takes place in 1954, and you get some very powerful flashbacks of a Nazi death camp that Leonardo DiCaprio helped liberate.

He does a fine job in this movie, but it’s really time for Scorsese to give him a rest. And some might not even pull off the rugged, tortured cop he’s supposed to be playing. It’s perhaps the reason child actors have such a hard time transitioning into adult roles, but more so when they still have a baby face and continue making movies without a break. It’s hard not to think of the goofy Titanic when Leo is on the front of a ferry. Instead of shouting that he’s “king of the world,” it’s king of the commode. He suffers from sea sickness.

The rest of the cast is superb, but can you really go wrong with San Diego’s Michelle Williams, Sir Ben Kingsley, and Mark Ruffalo – one of the most under-appreciated actors around. And then there’s Jackie Earle Haley, who seems to have cornered the market on creepy guys.

(Wait a second. Did I just give Michelle Williams top billing?)

If Kingsley wasn’t enough as the evil doctor, he has a “partner in crime” in Max von Sydow, who I’ve been watching play the old, bad guy in movies since the '70s. I’m guessing he’s going to keep doing these roles splendidly for another 30 years.

I thought the cinematography was top notch. And the score reminded me a lot of Cape Fear and worked wonderfully at setting the mood (if the stormy weather and eerie mental hospital didn’t do the trick).

It’s a shame that the movie wasn’t as suspenseful as it could’ve been, or as scary as the trailers made it look.

Many viewers will feel their mind was messed with as much as the patients on Shutter Island. And many people will leave the theater disappointed (at least they did in the showing I saw).

I had a blast staying in my seat as the credits rolled and discussing what the last line by Leo meant. And of course, watching the credits. I found that Robbie Robertson (The Band) was the “music supervisor” – whatever that means.

And there’s nothing more fun then seeing actors listed in credits as “dying commandant,” “manacled woman,” “tattooed man,” and “wild-eyed man.”