Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Shutter Island

Release Date: February 19th, 2010

Click here for the Shutter Island Trailer.

In 1954, U.S. Marshals Teddy Daniels(Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule(Mark Ruffalo) travel to the mysterious Shutter Island and its institution for the criminally insane to investigate the disappearance of a murderous patient committed for drowning her three children. Teddy and Chuck are tasked with finding the patient and bringing her back to the institution.

While investigating, Teddy and Chuck slowly begin to realize that the entire staff at the hospital is hiding something and nobody is willing to talk. Teddy and Chuck decide to leave the island but are forced to stay when a hurricane moves in. On the island Teddy begins to have hallucinations and the longer he stays the worse they get.

As the mystery of the institution begins to unravel, Teddy and Chuck begin to realize that if they don't figure out what is going on that they, like the patients, may never leave Shutter Island.

Loosely based on the book of the same name by Dennis Lehane, Shutter Island is a thriller set in the early 1950's that will have you guessing the whole time trying to figure out just what is actually going on. The movie is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo and Ben Kingsly.

There has been a lot of hype surrounding this move recently with many people waiting with anticipation for it to come out, especially after it got delayed from an October 2nd, 2009 release date to the final February 19th, 2010 release date. But is it worth all the hype? Many critics say yes but you didn't go to them, you came to me to see if I think it is worth all the hype so lets get into my review.

The initial trailers and publicity for this movie was very intriguing, and it appeared to be a psychological thriller that would require a bit of thinking and attentiveness while watching it. Movies like this grab my attention because I enjoy not knowing what is happening and trying to figure out what is going on. This is where Shutter Island really shines, the mystery. The whole movie has you wondering who is actually sane and who is insane and makes you sit there and wonder what in the world is really going on.

The whole movie builds and builds to the moment Teddy finds out what is going on and when he finally gets there you are just as surprised at what he finds as he is. I will say that the twist at the end may be figured out by some but the ones who do figure it out will not, like me, have it 100% correct. The ending is also where the movie strays away from the book so those of you who read the book will not have the ending completely ruined for you, whether or not that is good or not is up to you.

I'm not a huge fan of Leonardo DiCaprio. I know all the women out there have some strange attraction to him but acting wise he hasn't really blown me away. I'm not saying he is terrible my any means but he isn't top on my list of amazing actors. That being said, DiCaprio did a very very good job in this film. I liked the way he carried himself in this film. His stance and his mannerisms made the character real for me. I also though his dramatic sequences were top notch, allowing the audience to empathize with his character. Overall this is one of DiCaprio's best performances in my book.

DiCaprio wasn't alone in this film however. Starring alongside Leo was the very talented Mark Ruffalo and the always fantastic Ben Kingsley. Ruffalo was very good in his role as DiCaprio's partner Chuck. Ruffalo added a sense of calm to the intense and, sometimes, chaotic performance of DiCaprio and the rest of the craziness this film displayed. He was a kind of anchor to DiCaprio, balancing out the two personas. Kingsley did a fantastic job as the Chief Psychiatrist of the institution Dr. John Cawley. Throughout the film you always wondered what Kingsley's motives were. On the one hand, he always tried to convince you that he was a good person and out to help the patients, yet on the other hand it seemed like he hid a dark secret, one that he was willing to do anything to keep hidden. This added another sense of mystery to the film and an aspect that kept you tentative and guessing.

Overall, Shutter Island was a great film. The atmosphere and the setting gave you chills and it made you afraid to see what was around each corner. Scorsese did a fantastic job of making a truly terrifying mental institution and a setting that made the movie stand out. The plot was enticing and kept the audiences attention and even though it strayed from the book, it will still leave you shocked.

I give Shutter Island 8 Delusional Psychopaths out of 10

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Wolfman

The WolfmanRelease Date: February 12th, 2010

Click here for The Wolfman Trailer.

Lawrence Talbot(Benicio del Toro) has not been back to his home in Blackmoor, England for many years, but when he receives word from his sister-in-law Gwen(Emily Blunt) that his brother Ben has gone missing, Lawrence decides to return to his family's estate and figure out what happened. As soon as Lawrence arrives in his home his father, Sir John Talbot(Anthony Hopkins), informs Lawrence that his brother's body was found in a ditch just before he arrived.

Lawrence inspects his brother's corpse and discovers a medallion that came from a nearby Gypsy camp. Lawrence meets with Maleva(Geraldine Chaplin), who gave the medallion to Lawrence's brother. Maleva informs Lawrence that his brother was killed by a werewolf. As the too converse, the werewolf attacks the camp and eviscerates most of the people there. Lawrence witnesses the wolf giving chase to a young boy and as he tries to save him, Lawrence is bitten on the neck by the beast. After the incident, Inspector Francis Aberline(Hugo Weaving) arrives in Blackmoor to investigate the horrible killings.

Not trusting one another, both Lawrence and Aberline try to discover exactly what is killing the people around Blackmoor and it is up to them to stop the beast if anyone is to be safe again.

It has been almost 70 years since the original story of The Wolfman was told and director Joe Johnston aims to rejuvenate the iconic character for the modern age.

Taking one of the most iconic characters in all of horror and doing a remake is a tricky business for many directors. You want to make the original in your own right but at the same time you do not want to tarnish what made the original move great. As with all remakes or re-imaginings, there are going to be things that stick out from the original and things that let you know the movie is unique.

So lets get into my review. I was particularly interested in this movie when I first heard about it. I have always known about the Wolfman story and character and thought it was very cool that they were doing a remake. I really wanted to see this move because it was different from the typical werewolf movies we see today (Twilight, Underworld). The werewolf in The Wolfman brought a whole different aspect to how a werewolf would look, giving it a design that more closely resembled a human than a wolf. The movie did a fantastic job of recreating how the original Wolfman looked back in 1941 and this one looked great.

On that note, the special effects in the movie were very well done. The transformation from man to Wolfman looked very disturbing and realistic and you could actually feel the pain of the transformation. The special effects with the ore was also very good. If there is one thing this movie is not lacking it is gore. The Wolfman ripped apart his victims, literally. The movie was full of more slashing, gashing and dismemberment than you could shake a stick at at it was cool. The way the Wolfman killed his victims in the film really drove in the sense of feral bloodlust. The Wolfman didn't kill to feed or to turn others into werewolves, he killed to kill and was not shy about it. The brutality of the creature in this film was definitely a plus. For me it really brought out the character of the Wolfman and the monster that he really is.

As for the acting it had its highs and lows. Anthony Hopkins was very good as Sir John Talbot. He brought an estranged creepiness to his character that reminded me a bit of his Silence of the Lambs performance. Throughout the whole movie I just got this uneasy feeling whenever Hopkins came on screen and it made him a joy to watch. Hugo Weaving added his professional swagger to the film as the proud Scotland Yard Inspector. I greatly enjoy Weaving's performances (Lord of the Rings, The Matrix). He has this presence about him that is just solid. With most of his performances you get the impression that he is the real deal and he does what he wants. Weaving all around just gave a solid performance.

But not all performances were top notch. I wasn't too impressed with Benicio del Toro's performance, which wouldn't be so bad if her wasn't the lead. I'm not going to say that del Toro's performance was terrible, but it wasn't fantastic either. Some of the delivery of his lines seemed off character wise and I just wasn't blown away by the acting. But it wasn't just the acting that bothered me. If you can't tell by his name, Benicio del Toro is Puerto Rican. That's great but the only problem is that his character is English and his father is white. The other thing is that del Toro's character did not have an English accent while everybody else in the movie did. This just makes things awkward. I will say that the director did try to justify this by showing a flashback of Lawrence's mother who appeared to be dark skinned and by saying that he lived with his aunt in America for a majority of his life but this just seemed like a quick add in to make things make sense. But if you can get past that (and trust me, its easy to do) the story is otherwise very good.

I had heard complaints from some people that the story had no substance and didn't make sense but I strongly disagree. I found the plot to be fulfilling with a good substance and even a little bit of a twist at the end that made things exciting and, possibly, left room for a sequel, I'll let you be the judge of that though. Overall I was happy with The Wolfman. I thought the action was good, the story was solid and the acting, for the most part, was up to par. There were scenes that added depth and scenes that make you jump out of your seat. If you like horror movies or are a fan of the old school Wolfman then you will probably be happy with Johnston's remake. The Wolfman brings back the old school werewolf look and style and delivers a movie that we don't typically see anymore.

I give The Wolfman 8 Feral Wolf Children out of 10.