Written by Markus Robinson, Edited by Nicole I. Ashland
Markus Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
Rated R for some language (In my opinion, there is no way this film deserved an R rating)
Why do so many “critics” LOVE this movie? When I start off a review like I just did, you can probably see where I am going with this. In writer/director Jeff Nichols new film “Take Shelter”, a movie that is taking the Independent movie world by storm, he presents a story where an overall “good man” and husband/father, named Curtis (played by the underappreciated Michael Shannon) is all of a sudden plagued by a series of apocalyptic dreams that seem to be bleeding into his reality. On the verge of a nervous breakdown, he begins to build a tornado shelter (yeah, semi-Noah’s Ark style) in order to protect his family at all costs. Wow, sounds like a great premise right? Well at the ten minute mark it’s a great premise, as we (the audience) follow Curtis as he begins to have these violent and haunting dreams. At the forty-five minute mark, the suspense brought on by the mysterious dreams and the performance of Shannon keep the storyline still fairly entertaining. But by the ninety minute mark, all suspense has left the building and if it wasn’t for Shannon having one of the most compelling scenes of his career, a lot of the audience would have checked out. So, as this story nears its climax, creeping along in exhausting fashion, many audiences may be caught saying to themselves: “this ending better be worth it, because this film seems like its going nowhere in the slowest way possible”. So, is the ending worth it? Um, I’m not going to ruin it for you but…NO; not enough to save this film.
Upon hearing about a vehicle that would give Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road) a stage to show off his leading role prowess (aside from that unwatchable “Bug” movie he did), I was more than a little excited to see “Take Shelter” as soon as it came out. But as I walked out of the theater, I was more than a little disappointed in Nichols drawn out (and at times down right nonsensical) vision. Let’s make no mistake, Shannon absolutely carries this film and is the only reason to see it, even though Jessica Chastain (The Help) gives a noteworthy (but forgettable) performance as the wife. But aside from Shannon’s stellar performance, this film has little redeeming qualities. What suspense and scares it does start off with, wane over the latter half of the film. The cinematography, while at times amazing to look at, adds little to the story. And the ending is a perfect instance of “too little, too late”.
Rotten Tomatoes?????: I would like somebody, ANYONE, who has seen this movie to explain to me what was so powerful and brilliant about this film. Because every review I have read so far seems to proclaim “Take Shelter” as a masterpiece of sorts for reasons that obviously I was blind to. Again I am not taking anything away from Shannon. He is great here, in undoubtedly his best performance to date. It’s the film as an entirety that was vastly lacking in every mood it was trying to perpetuate. In the end this is a film that I believed a lot of critics thought to be deep because they felt it necessary to overanalyze into submission (simply because it holds the title of an Independent).
Final Thought: “Take Shelter” turned out to be a film where Nichols should be commended for taking a lot of chances, but as a film with so much hype behind it, ended up being pretty disappointing. And its not even that the movie moved at a snails pace (which it did), its more that it moved at a snails pace with little payout. Furthermore, this is a film that contains a lot of randomness and little explanation and scares at times but not anything that would stay with you or keep you up at night. Lastly, after watching “Take Shelter”, you get the feeling that Nichols doesn’t seem to know what kind of film he wanted; if it wanted to be an apocalyptic horror, drama, or a film about mental illnesses. And that semi-ambiguous aspect of his movie will leave a lot of the general audience flippant about the movie itself, including the twist ending. The lesson we should all learn from this film is don’t always believe the hype of the big named film critics (unless, of course, I become one of them. Then disregard what I just said), because in this reviewers opinion you would be better off skipping “Take Shelter” and going to see this same film done ten times better in old episodes of “The Twilight Zone”.