Shutter Island

Shutter Island (2010)
Paramount Home Video
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Max von Sydow, Emily Mortimer
Extras: Featurettes

Based on Dennis Lehane's novel of the same name, director Martin Scorsese turned "Shutter Island" into a dark and brooding movie that is now available on Blu-Ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment.

U.S. Marshall Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his new partner Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) arrive on Shutter Island, a mental institution for the criminally insane, they have no idea what they are getting into. Sent there to investigate the strange disappearance of a murderess, it quickly becomes obvious that there is something strange going on in the case of the woman who supposedly went missing from her locked cell. Suspecting she is still on the island, Daniels begins his search and interviews staff and inmates to learn more, only to find that Shutter Island seems to bear a truly dark secret. The fact that neither the warden Dr, Crawley (Ben Kingsley) nor his colleague Dr. Naehring (Max von Sydow) are willing to help, makes things even worse and , haunted by his own past, Teddy Daniels begins to suspect the worst. If only he could prove that Shutter Island is in reality the testing ground for truly inhumane experiments.

Since it is not taking place in New York City and isn't a mob movie, "Shutter Island" might look like an unusual project for Martin Scorsese at first glance. However, a few minutes into the film it become evident that his strength in creating character based stories with characters that are both overtly and subliminally dark and evil is of great aid for a story like "Shutter Island." In fact, I have my doubts that the film would have been as effective as it is in the hands of another director who might have taken a much more flashy and shock-in-your-face approach.

As it stands, the film – like the novel – is a remarkable descent into paranoia and fear as the terror mounts in the walls of the asylum. Ominous and brooding, the film is filled with symbolism and character details that make repeat viewing simply a must. The story is driving and so superbly balanced that you cannot take your eyes off the screen. Much of the appeal comes once again from Leonardo DiCaprio's mesmerizing performance. As he gets older, DiCaprio has been tackling some amazing roles and I think he has never really seen the proper acclaim for his work since "Gilbert Grape" and "Titanic" – in which case it was somewhat unwarranted and more driven by fanaticism than his actual achievements in the film. Be that as it may, for the past 10 years, DiCaprio has established himself as a major powerhouse who can take on funny roles every bit as easily as some of the darkest, soul-searching parts, like that in "Shutter Island." It is not easy to relegate actors like Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow to the sidelines, but that is exactly what he is doing here. Almost unnoticeably the viewer never takes a real interest in these other – superbly played out characters – and the focus always remains firmly on Teddy Daniels, even when he is not in the scene.

Arriving in a spectacular 1080p high definition transfer, the film has the makings of a showcase reel. Without blemishes, the transfer holds so much detail, you seem to see the scene in front of your mind's eyes almost, as opposed to watching a film. The brutal blacks in the transfer certainly help, as the allow the filmmakers to direct the viewers focus exactly where they want it, blocking – or should I says "blacking" – out everything else with panache. The deep black levels also give the picture incredible visual depth, adding dimensionality as well as an added layer of dread to the movie as a whole.

The audio on the releases is presented in DTS 5.1 HD Master Audio format. The presentation is powerful and aggressive, making the best of the lossless format. The discrete surround channels are constantly engaged for good effect, as well as to create ambient effects that are unsettling and moody. This atmosphere is further enhanced by the film's score, which brings together a number of composers to contribute the best of their abilities to any given moment.

Two featurettes are part of the release, discussing the making of the film. Taking a look at how the book has been converted to the screen, as well as giving viewers a much more detailed look at the entire cast of characters throughout the movie, these featurettes are going to raise your intrigue in the film rather than flatly reiterating what you have already seen. Do give them a closer look and they will help you see the film through different eyes, if nothing else.

"Shutter Island" is gripping and intense, and should instantly make it onto your favorite movie lists. Even outside the mobster milieu, Martin Scorsese proves that he is one of the most evocative directors when it comes to thrillers based on characters instead of action. "Shutter Island" is a gem and I can promise you, it is one you will watch more than once.