With films such as “Raging Bull,” “Taxi Driver,” “Goodfellas” and “The Departed,” director Martin Scorsese has developed a resume full of so many great achievements that it’s hard to think he’s capable of having a misfire.
But that proves to be the case with his latest film, “Shutter Island,” a rather slow and predictable thriller that not even the great Scorsese can salvage, despite his best efforts.
Set in 1954, the film stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Teddy Daniels, a U.S. marshal sent to investigate the disappearance of a woman on a Northeastern island that is home to a hospital for the criminally insane.
Teddy pushes for the case for personal reasons - he hopes to find answers to a tragedy that claimed the life of his wife (Michelle Williams) a few years earlier.
But Teddy’s plan gets derailed and he’s soon entangled in a web of deception and danger that threatens Teddy and his new partner’s (Mark Ruffalo) safety - and perhaps sanity.
Using a script adapted by a novel from Den Lehane (the man behind “Mystic River” and “Gone Baby Gone”), one would think Scorsese would have the blueprint for another great film.
Unfortunately that isn’t the case - “Shutter Island” never quite clicks. The cast, which also includes Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow, is fine and to Scorsese’s credit, he manages to keep the film interesting for a while.
But the film completely jumps off track in the second half, when the story veers in a direction that is supposed to be a surprise, but proves to be quite predictable. That might be overlooked if the payoff were satisfying, but this ending just fell flat.
I suppose some people will like the final act, but it left me cold and frustrated. As a result, “Shutter Island” is now in the argument with “Bringing Out the Dead” and “The Age of Innocence” as the most disappointing film of Scorsese’s illustrious career.
DVD dandy of the week
This week’s dandy is “Where the Wild Things Are” (B+), Spike Jonze’s adaptation of the Maurice Sendak children’s book that is completely endearing and original.
Here’s a film that manages to stay true to its roots, while expanding it into new depths that will surely please all the book’s fans.
“Wild Things Are” tells the story of Max (Max Records), a disobedient boy who runs away to a magical world inhabited by ferocious wild creatures.
Max quickly strikes up a friendship with the creatures, convincing them that he is their long lost leader.
At first Max enjoys the idea of being king of this strange new world, but soon finds himself longing to return to his family.
My son was a huge fan of the book, so I was very familiar with the material heading into my screening and not quite sure how Jonze could pull it off.
To his credit, Jonze (the man behind “Adaptation” and “Being John Malkovich”) proves to be quite respectful to the material while adding much more.
Jonze creates a back story, book-ending the story with scenes between Max and his family that really set up the main plot. He also expands on the island of the wild, creating a beautiful world that is a visual feast.
Records is also good in the lead, capturing the highs and lows of a child full of anger and imagination.
I will admit the story is probably a little darker than some parents might anticipate (and I get the feeling that Jonze may be suggesting Max’s anger could be rooted in some darker places), but I still think it’s a film that children can appreciate. It’s smart and clever and very trusting of its audience.
“Where the Wild Things Are” is rated PG for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language and will be available Tuesday on DVD.
— Sportswriter/movie reviewer Micheal Compton is gearing up for his Oscar picks in next week’s column. To get his thoughts on how the races shape up or his opinions on “Cop Out” and “The Crazies,” visit his blog at mcompton.wordpress.com or his Twitter page at twitter.com/mcompton428. You can also e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.