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Shutter Island

Set in 1954, US marshal Teddy Daniels and his new partner Chuck Alue are headed to Shutter Island, insane asylum and home of America’s most dangerous and mentally disturbed criminals.

The two marshals have been called to the island after the escape of a patient, Rachel Solando, who had been convicted of murdering her three children by drowning them in the lake behind her house. There seems to be no way that the woman could have escaped since not one person had noticed her leave her cell and even if she had escaped she had apparently done it without even wearing shoes. No one believes that she has left the island considering the only way on and off the island is a ferry that only travels back and forth to the mainland twice a day. Teddy discovers a clue however when he finds a note hidden in Rachel’s cell stating ‘the rule of 4’ and ‘who is 67’.

As the investigation continues the two marshals gradually notice just how strange everyone on the island is acting, right down to the guards and even the doctors themselves. It’s obvious the inmates have been coached as to what to say since every one of them keeps saying the same thing as each other. All that is except for one female inmate who scrawls a cryptic message in Teddy’s notebook, ‘run’. Teddy begins to grow suspicious and suspects a cover up, at the very least there is a secret being hidden on Shutter Island and Teddy thinks he knows exactly what that is.

Teddy believes that the inmates on Shutter Island are being used as lab rats in experiments involving mind control. Using a tip from a Shutter Island survivor, Teddy is determined to prove that not everything is as it appears to be and that those running the asylum are even more dangerous than those imprisoned inside. Teddy better watch his back though because it looks like the doctors are on to him and will do anything to cover their tracks, even going as far as trying to make Teddy believe he’s insane.

Here there be spoilers:

Shutter Island is an alright movie, I did enjoy it. There really is only one problem, I had it pretty much figured out in about an hour. You see, the premise of Shutter Island isn’t exactly new. In fact if you happen to be a geek (like me) you have probably already seen this exact same scenario on such shows as Star Trek: The Next Generation, Frame of Mind (where aliens try to convince Riker he’s an asylum inmate and not commander of the USS Enterprise) or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Normal Again (where The Trio use demon venom to try to convince Buffy she is a patient in an asylum and not a vampire slayer) or Smallville, Labyrinth (where an escapee from the Phantom Zone tries to convince Clark he’s a patient in an asylum and not an alien from Krypton) or Charmed, Brain Drain (where The Source kidnaps Piper and tries to convince her she is an inmate at an asylum and not a witch)… I think you get the idea.

In fact the only real twist in Shutter Island is that Teddy Daniels actually is a patient in an asylum and not a US marshal, well at least not since he killed his wife for murdering their three children. Turns out Teddy is actually Andrew Laeddis, the man who he had blamed for killing his wife in a fire. The grief of losing his children combined with the guilt of killing his wife caused Andrew to break with reality and everyone on Shutter Island was involved in an elaborate role play in hopes of playing out his delusion and bringing him back to reality. I guess you could say the real plot twist in Shutter Island is that there isn’t actually any conspiracy at all.

As I said, Shutter Island is a good movie, the acting is great and there are a couple of nice cameos by the likes of Jackie Earle Haley and Elias Koteas but if you’ve ever encountered one of these plot devices in the past you’re not going to have a hard time figuring it out here.

Shutter Island is directed by Martin Scorsese and stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley, Michelle Williams, Emily Mortimer, Max von Sydow, Jackie Earle Haley, Ted Levine, John Carroll Lynch, Elias Koteas and Patricia Clarkson.

Shutter Island is slated for DVD and Blue-ray release on June 8th 2010.

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

-Chris

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The Fourth Kind

After the brutal death of her husband while the both of them were in bed together, psychologist Abigail Tyler (played by Milla Jovovich) decides to return her family to Nome Alaska for a fresh start. Things aren’t easy, her son has grown estranged from her and her daughter now suffers from conversion disorder, also known as hysterical blindness, as the result of witnessing her father’s death.

Abigail hopes to just move past the tragedies in her life by burying herself in her work. An odd coincidence comes to her attention when several of her patients all claim to be seeing the same white owl watching them from outside their bedrooms in the middle of the night. Each patient is plagued by nightmares and Abigail decides to hypnotize one of them with disastrous results. After being forced to remember what has been happening to him the patient refuses to discuss it but later that night decides to murder his family and then kill himself.

It is not until she hypnotizes another patient that Abigail begins to suspect what is actually going on in Nome Alaska. She begins to believe that the people of Nome and maybe even she and her family are being abducted by aliens. Of course the authorities don’t believe her, despite some rather convincing video evidence and she isn’t even sure herself until she hears a recording of herself being abducted. The recording, made while Abigail had fallen asleep while taking dictation, is filled with her screams of terror. It has also captured the strange voice of someone who is speaking what sounds like ancient Sumerian.

Everything becomes far too real for Abigail when the police place her under house arrest sure that she had something to do with her patient’s murder-suicide. They also hold her responsible for her other patient breaking his back during a second hypnosis session, leaving him paralyzed. When her daughter goes missing and no one believes that aliens were the ones who took her, Abigail decides that she must go under hypnosis herself in an attempt to make contact with the aliens and get her daughter back.

Set as a mockumentary, The Fourth Kind claims to be a recreation of actual events that had happened in Nome Alaska during 2000. Going so far as to show ‘actual footage’ of events side by side with the recreated scenes throughout the film as well as providing narration in the form of an interview with the ‘real’ Abigail Tyler the film goes all out trying to turn viewers into believers. There was even quite an elaborate viral campaign on the internet providing ‘real’ information as ‘proof’ of the films authenticity.

I don’t have cable, which of course means that I can’t see movie trailers unless I go searching for them online. This means that I had little information on The Fourth Kind aside from the occasional bits found on the web. I didn’t even know about the viral campaign or that The Fourth Kind was being touted as ‘the real deal’ and I think this was a good thing. It seems that many viewers were angry that they had been ‘duped’ by The Fourth Kind and thought that what they would actually be seeing is actual footage of real alien abductions mixed into an authentic recreation.

This of course makes me wonder if it has actually been that long since The Blair Witch Project, a film which also used the premise of being the ‘real deal’. In fact doesn’t anyone remember Orson Welles’ infamous radio broadcast of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds, a broadcast that many people believed was an actual news report about the Earth being invaded by Martians? Lets face it, if there was actual footage of people being abducted by aliens it’s highly unlikely that it would end up as part of a feature film. More than likely such footage would be confiscated by the feds and everyone involved would be ‘dealt with’.

I rather enjoyed The Fourth Kind. Cleaver storytelling mixed with interesting blending of both ‘real’ and recreated footage, the film actually gives the feel that maybe, just maybe what the viewer is seeing could be true. It’s a movie that allows you to put away the skepticism for an hour and a half and just go with the flow. It doesn’t matter if the story is real or not, it’s entertaining and that’s enough for me.

The Fourth Kind is now available on both DVD and Blue-Ray.

For being an entertaining way to spend an afternoon I give The Fourth Kind four smiley guys.

πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

-Chris

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