Martin Scorcese had a little free time on his hands ten years ago while he was waiting on one of his projects to come together so he decided to take on a little project to kill that time. That project was the film adaptation of the book Shutter Island. He brought in Leonardo DiCaprio, who he had just worked with on a couple of other films, to take on the lead role of a detective sent to the Shutter Island asylum to investigate the escape of a murderous patient. The film is set in the early 50’s when medical treatment was crashing against psychological therapy for patience suffering from extreme psychological issues. Commentary on that clash permeates this mystery as DiCaprio and partner Mark Ruffalo dig into the mysteries of Shutter Island.
The film also stars Ben Kingsley, Max Von Sydow, Michelle Williams, and Emily Mortimer. Robert DeNiro shows up to in order to steal the show. His appearance was kept secret when the film was released theatrically and made for a pretty stunning surprise. His character in Shutter Island was definitely out of his norm.
Much of the actual quality of Shutter Island was kind of glossed over when it was originally released due to Leonardo DiCaprio’s terrible on and off accent. Yes his execution of the accent isn’t great but looking past that to his actual acting in the film reveals a really fascinating character study. I haven’t seen the film since it was originally in theaters so it was almost like a fresh viewing of the film. Shutter Island is one of those films that deserves repeat viewings because once you know the story you see all of the little nods to the ending throughout the film. The film is also beautifully shot and edited, as is genreally the case with all of Scorcese’s films. Shutter Island is a great thriller that has held up well over the test of time and is a truly unique entry in Martin Scorsese’s filmography.
Now to the “10 Year Anniversary” of it all. The film is presented with a new 4k blu-ray along with the previous HD blu-ray release in a steelbook case. Paramount says this is a limited edition as far as the packaging goes. I’d anticipate seeing a standard 4k release of the film if the steelbook sells well. The steelbook is very subtle in design and overall it represents the mystery feel of the film well. It is basic in the world of steelbooks though. It’s glossy with no embossing, de-bossing, or zero finishes applied. The artwork is quite effective though. It will look nice on your shelf for sure.
The 4k presentation is not struck from a new restoration onf the original film negative. What we have here is an upscale from the previous transfer used for the blu-ray. We don’t get much of an uptick in regards to resolution but the new HDR color grading is quite stunning. This film isn’t dim like so many other first gen 4k blu’s were. In fact this 4k looks a little brighter in some places than the standard blu-ray. Skin tones look more realistic and colors in genreal are just more dynamic. Detail also makes a reappearance in the shadows and dark scenes on this 4K were it all just feels murky on the standard blu. While I believe Shutter Island deserves a new 4k transfer from the film negative this upscaled 4k is really lovely and the best the film has looked since the original theatrical run.
We don’t get a new atmos audio mix here either. The previous DTS mix is solid for a film that’s so heavily dialogue riven though. The surround stage kicks in during bigger moments and we do get some environmental audio from the rain in some scenes. It’s a good mix, just not the great one it should have been.
The biggest letdown here comes in the form of bonus features. For this anniversary edition of the film no new bonus features were shot. On the original blu-ray there are two pretty great featurettes included that were shot for the original blu-ray release ten years ago. A new commentary or cast reunion or something creative from the crew that made the film would have been much appreciated and would have felt much more premium. The two archival featurettes are lengthy and offer good insight into the making of the film though. Also, another big missing extra is the digital code. Why Paramount would you not provide a digital code? It costs you nothing to provide the code. Do you think we will buy the code in addition to the physical copy? No we will not. It is nice to have the code for travel and such though.
If you are a fan of Shutter Island this is the best the film has ever looked with the new color grading. Otherwise it sounds the same as the previous release and has no new extras. If you don’t already own the film this is a no brainer pick up. If you do own the film though you have to decide if a new color grade and a nice looking steelbook are enough to double dip and pick this one up. Paramount has previously crushed it with amazing 4k releases such as It’s a Wonderful Life but this one needed more love.