Category Archives: Movie Preview

Shutter Island: Movie Review

Shutter Island — Film Review
By Kirk Honeycutt, February 13, 2010 04:00 ET
The Hollywood Reporter

Bottom Line: A movie from Martin Scorsese that defies you to believe in what you actually see.

BERLIN — Martin Scorsese’s “Shutter Island” is a remarkable high-wire act, performed without a net and exploiting all the accumulated skills of a consummate artist. It dazzles and provokes. But since when did Scorsese become a circus performer?

The movie certainly keeps you in its grip from the opening scene: It’s a nerve-twisting, tension-jammed exercise in pure paranoia and possibly Scorsese’s most commercial film yet. With a top cast hitting their marks with smooth efficiency, “Island” looks like a boxoffice winner. Paramount opens the film domestically Friday Feb. 19.


More Berlin coverage


Laeta Kalogridis’ screenplay is based on a novel by Dennis Lehane, whose blue-collar crime novels have been turned into such movies as “Gone Baby Gone” and “Mystic River.” But this story clearly derives from memories and images of old movies — from 1950s Gothic mysteries and Cold War-era paranoia thrillers to 1960s movies cranked out by the Roger Corman factory (where Scorsese once toiled), especially its Edgar Allan Poe/Vincent Price chillers.

You get an isolated island, howling weather, mad scientists, an ex-Nazi, tough cops, deranged patients and a penal hospital with crowded, filthy cells and corridors stretching forever — possibly beyond sanity.

Scorsese has given himself a film student’s puzzle: Try to make a ’50s-era thrill ride with today’s techniques and technology. One senses his childlike delight behind every camera move and jump cut. As his audience squirms, he’s in movie heaven.

From the opening music chords, supervised by Robbie Robertson from existing source material, a sense of doom settles over the film’s characters. In 1954, two U.S. marshals — Teddy (Scorsese’s go-to star, Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner, Chuck (Mark Ruffalo) — watch the forbidding fortress that is Shutter Island loom larger and larger as their ferry approaches the island’s only dock.

In quick order, exposition rolls off the actors’ tongues, like in those B-movies that lasted only 70 minutes. Shutter Island is a hospital for the criminally insane. One female psychopathic patient has gone missing, incredibly, from a locked room within the fearsome-looking Ashecliffe Hospital. A hurricane is approaching. The guards and psychiatrists then greet the lawmen with hostility and evasions. Everything screams, “Go back!”

Teddy gradually warms up to his partner enough to take him into his confidence: He asked for this assignment. Unresolved issues await him on Shutter Island. His nightmares vividly underscore these past traumas. They involve his platoon liberating a concentration camp and witnessing its horrors. They involve the death of his wife and a former Shutter Island prisoner who talked to him about devastating medical experiments and funding by anti-Soviet groups.

In fact, maybe these aren’t nightmares at all. During daytime, Teddy experiences flashbacks and the presence of the dead, especially his late wife (Michelle Williams) and a little girl from the camp who asks, “Why didn’t you save me?”

The hospital’s pipe-smoking chief psychiatrist, Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley), preaches the humane treatment of patients. (He won’t use the word “prisoner.”) But his fellow shrink with a German accent (Max von Sydow) reminds Teddy of the dark side of the medical profession he encountered in the camp.

When the storm hits, chaos reigns. Trees crash into buildings, electrical outages free prisoners, all communication with the mainland is cut off and the two marshals are as much prisoners as the patients.

The story barrels forward into encounters with an escaped prisoner (Patricia Clarkson) hiding on the island and another prisoner (Jackie Earle Haley) who has been severely beaten. Then, suddenly, the escaped female killer (Emily Mortimer) is found — just like that. Teddy isn’t buying it.

The problem, of course, is the viewer is in the same boat. Are Teddy’s nightmares and ghosts because of something the warden has slipped into his drink? Are any of these encounters real? If so, which are real and which are … imaginary?
The big reveal, when it does happen, might be yet another fraud. Teddy certainly clings to his conspiracy theories.

Scorsese is in full control of all three rings of this cinematic circus. Every lesson he learned, from Alfred Hitchcock to Don Siegel, is on display. Nearly every camera move is fraught with excitement. The music, costumes, props and the many rooms and halls of this fortress-prison are designed for maximum emotional impact.

After finally getting that long-sought Oscar for “The Departed,” perhaps Scorsese figures it’s time to have a bit of fun. He isn’t asking to be taken seriously here. This isn’t “Taxi Driver” or “GoodFellas” or even “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.” It comes closest in his oeuvre to “Cape Fear,” but with a more commercial instinct.

Let’s hope this is a digression in his illustrious career, a way of playing with what Orson Welles called the “toys” of moviemaking. With Dante Ferretti designing his sets and Robert Richardson behind the camera, Scorsese certainly has the right playmates. Longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker weaves her magic by bringing images together in such a way that the audience can’t quite trust what it sees.

It’s a pleasure to experience Scorsese as a circus master. One just hopes he doesn’t continue in this vein.

Venue: Berlin International Film Festival
Opens: Friday, Feb. 19 (Paramount)
Production: Paramount Pictures presents a Phoenix Pictures production in association with Sikelia Prods. and Appian Way
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Patricia Clarkson, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter: Laeta Kalogridis
Based on a novel by: Dennis Lehane
Producers: Mike Medavoy, Arnold W. Messer, Bradley J. Fischer, Martin Scorsese
Executive producers: Chris Brigham, Laeta Kalogridis, Dennis Lehane, Gianni Nunnari, Louis Phillips
Director of photography: Robert Richardson
Production designer: Dante Ferretti
Music: Robbie Robertson
Costume designer: Sandy Powell
Editor: Thelma Schoonmaker
Rated R, 139 minutes


Avatar Moves to No. 2 with Record Sixth Weekend

The Avatar juggernaut rolled on this weekend, as it left The Dark Knight in its wake to become the second-highest grossing movie in North America box office history, according to Fox’s estimates released on Sunday morning. Its $36 million haul is the biggest sixth weekend in history, and its still earning about $10 million a weekend than Titanic was a this stage of its run, so the all-time record is now assured.

Avatar’s international gross reached an estimated $1.288 billion over the weekend, putting it just just $2 million behind Titanic’s all-time record. Once full figures are in, it may actually have topped the record, and, if not, it will surely do so on Monday.

Cyber-Monday Super Sale! Toy Anxiety Holiday Sale!

Cyber-Monday Super Sale!! 

Save 5%-20% Off Your Order!*

Take 5% off $25.00-$49.99, 10% off $50.00-$74.99, 15% off $75.00-$99.99 and 20% off $100.00 or more!* Monday, November 30th ONLY.

* $25.00/$50.00/$75.00/$100.00 minimum order is before shipping and/or taxes. Order must contain $25.00-$100.00 or more of product. Discount does not apply to trades. Discount will be automatically applied to your order once minimum amount has been reached. No coupon code required.


Sale is one day only – Monday, November 30th, 2009.

The Green Hornet – On Location

The Green Hornet and Kato

Seth Rogen and Jay Chou as The Green Hornet and Kato.

Twilight Eclipse Vampires Finally See a Sunny Day

twilightnewmoonpicThe rain-beleaguered cast and crew of The Twilight Saga:  Eclipse finally caught a break weather-wise.  Or maybe not, depending on your point of view. David A. Slade, tweeting from the Twilight sequel’s location shoot in Vancouver, says:

“Today, vampires talking, vampires kissing, rain stayed away. We had to battle the sunlight to keep our vampires from sparkling too much…”

Typical. When you could use a few clouds, there are none in sight. Slade also mentions a technical detail:

“When the vampires sparkle we need to use a special camera filter to expose it on film. Otherwise the film over exposes.”

I wonder if a wet werewolf smells like a wet dog? 

Iron Man 2 Teaser Trailer

All of us Iron Man 2 junkies need a fix. Here is 5 minutes and 17 seconds of various scenes from the new Iron Man 2 movie which is coming out next summer. Enjoy!

San Diego Comic Con Movie Preview Photo – Avatar

James Cameron

A paraplegic ex-marine war veteran is unwillingly sent to establish a human settlement on the distant planet of Pandora, only to find himself battling humankind alongside the planet’s indigenous Na’vi race in this ambitious, digital 3-D sci-fi epic from Academy Award-winning Titanic director James Cameron. The film, which marks Cameron’s first dramatic feature since 1997’s Titanic, will be shot on the proprietary FUSION digital 3-D cameras developed by Cameron in collaboration with Vince Pace, and will offer a groundbreaking mix of live-action dramatic performances and computer-generated effects. Australian actor Sam Worthington stars as the reluctant human settler Jake Sully, with actress Zoe Saldana signing on to portray the local woman who enters into a romantic affair with the hero. The revolutionary motion-capture system created for the film allows the facial expressions of actors to be captured as a virtual camera system enables them to see what their computer-generated counterparts will be seeing in the film, and Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning Weta Digital visual effects house has been hired to supervise Avatar’s complex visual effects. Joel Moore, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Michelle Rodriguez round out the cast. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide