"Shutter Island" is the latest pop culture offering to take place on an island, coming to DVD shortly after one of the most famous "island" efforts of all time - "Lost" - ended. Islands have always been a favorite of filmmakers, whether to generate tension and mystery ("Lost"), drama ("Cast Away") or...unintentional comedy ("Six Days and Seven Nights").
While they offer entertainment, one can often take away more from films like "Cast Away". One can learn a great deal from "Cast Away", like when you're running for an airplane, saying "I'll be right back!" is really never the best idea, or that if one has to be in a plane crash and stranded on an island, a Fedex plane at least has tons of packages that will conveniently float by the beach that you happen to be staying on. Also, these packages will more than likely have things that are useful to you, such as ice skates (rather than things that are not useful, like volleyballs.)
Even films like "The Edge" offer good island tips, such as rubbing a paper clip on a dry wool shirt, then placing the clip on a leaf in a pool of water. If it works, the clip should point towards magnetic North, which should give you an idea of where you head if you were to get a boat together. If you try this on an island and it doesn't work, well...you're still on an island anyways.
Speaking of being on an island, I could offer some tips taken from "Gilligan's Island", but I'm not sure what good they would do, given that nothing apparently worked for them - the characters never got off the island. It would have been funny if somehow Russell Johnson ("The Professor") had been worked into the '70's era Dharma scenes on "Lost", or if the other island on "Lost" happened to be the "Gilligan" island the whole time and they never realized there was another island nearby.
As for "Lost", that's a veritable treasure trove of information, such as the fact that duct tape can fix just about anything (although Red Green fans already were well aware of this important fact.) Glue apparently does not work as well ("Six Days, Seven Nights"), although it's really funny to sarcastically say using it is a good idea to fix a destroyed airplane. "Six Days" also offers the terrific lesson that firing a flare into a coconut tree is not a good idea (I'd much rather recommend flare-roasted pineapple, it's delicious!), as well as that using a flare to try and signal a commercial airliner miles and miles up is also not a worthwhile plan.
As for "Lost", Homer Simpson would also not be a good replacement in the hatch pushing the button, especially if the screen said, "To Start, Push Any Key" ("Where's the ANY key?") Wearing red shirts, while allowing passing planes to spot you more easily, is also not recommended. Additionally, separating yourself from the other characters and getting visibly annoyed when any other characters interrupted your doing nothing in particular works surprisingly well, as Rose and Bernard found out. Additionally, "Lost" also offered such delightful tips as beer that has been sitting there for ages is actually tasty, people don't need to shave after months and the gem that seeing a polar bear on an island is not usual.
Or, rather than going anywhere, you can just watch episodes of "Survivorman", which was so much more awesome than "Man vs. Wild". See a clip from "Survivorman" where host Les Stroud discusses surviving on a tropical island at this link.
A delightfully hard-boiled adaptation of the Dennis Lehane novel from director Martin Scorsese, "Shutter Island" stars Leonardo Dicaprio as Teddy Daniels, a US Marshal who is introduced nearly getting ill while traveling on a boat to Shutter Island, an incredibly ominous looking mental facility located off the coast of New England. Joined by new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo), Daniels ventures into the facility to investigate the disappearance of a patient (Emily Mortimer).
The problem is that there's no way out of the facility - an old fort that has been transformed into a prison for the criminally insane. While Daniels starts the usual procedure, he gets a bit of resistance from Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley, terrific), who heads up the institution along with his colleague, Herr Doktor Naehring (Max von Sydow).
Daniels is sure that he's being lied to by everyone he comes across on the island, but - as a storm rolls in - it soon becomes quite apparent that the island has other things in mind. It all starts with a written warning from a patient being interviewed, and escalates from there as the walls start feeling as if they're slowly closing in around the pair of marshals.
To say more about the film is to give too much away, but I'll say that this is one of the finest films of the last couple of years. While promoted to be more of a horror movie, "Shutter Island" is a rich psychological thriller, with tremendously beautiful cinematography by Robert Richardson. Showing off some of the most haunting, evocative images I've seen in a film in quite some times, "Shutter Island" is often visually breathtaking (it also offers some excellent visual FX work.) The movie does have a much-discussed twist ending, which was a little iffy. Still, despite the fact that the destination wasn't quite what I hoped, the journey remained riveting.
It's the film's quiet, subtle nature and cold beauty that makes it all the more deeply, deeply creepy - Scorsese glides through the halls of the facility and into the match-lit halls of the fort, with the worst of the prisoners. This isn't a film about BIG SUDDEN LOUD NOISES - this is a largely dialogue-driven picture, and thanks to Scorsese's masterful direction, it's the tensest dialogue-driven picture I've seen in recent memory. The performances are also first-rate, with DiCaprio offering a gritty, compelling effort. "Shutter Island" may not be perfect, but it's an intense, old-fashioned and bold thriller from Scorsese.
VIDEO: "Shutter Island" is presented by Paramount in 2.35:1 (1080p/AVC) and the results are nearly reference quality. Sharpness and detail are impressive, as the image remains crisp and well-defined, with first-rate clarity and depth to the image.
The presentation of the gritty, somber picture looked mostly clean and pristine, with the exception of a few moments of light edge enhancement. The print looked fine, with no specks, marks or other faults. Colors generally appear subdued, although deeper, bolder colors occasionally show.
SOUND: The DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack is much like the movie: it's not aggressive, but its quiet detail is more effective than loud noises every few minutes. Surrounds offer a good deal of ambience and occasional creepy effects during the interior scenes at the Island. Audio quality is excellent, as the memorable score sounded full and rich, while dialogue sounded especially clean and clear.
EXTRAS: "Behind the Shutters" and "In the Lighthouse" documentaries, which run about 40 minutes or so in all and provide a good overview of the production, with behind-the-scenes clips and interviews. I'd love to have seen a lengthier, multi-part documentary and/or commentary, but oh well.
Final Thoughts: "Shutter Island" isn't without a few concerns, but the performances are terrific and Scorsese and crew have crafted a tense, bold and visually stunning thriller that's frequently riveting. The Blu-Ray offers only a couple of minor extras, but first-rate audio/video quality. Recommended.
The Film B+