(Review originally written at 4 May 2005)

There are many who regard "The Shawshank Redemption" as the ultimate prison movie. I seriously don't. In terms of atmosphere and realism, this is a more superior movie. Also when you watch this movie it becomes obvious to you how incredibly much Stephen King 'copied' (and not even subtly, he basically copied entire characters and events) from this movie for the both of his novels that are set in prisons; "The Shawshank Redemption" and to a smaller extend "The Green Mile".

Yes of course "The Shawshank Redemption" has a totally brilliant story and some top-class acting but I still see "Escape from Alcatraz" as a better movie. The story is more believable which add to the realism of the movie. "The Shawshank Redemption" is a way more over-dramatized movie if you like, while "Escape from Alcatraz" is just simply realistic and honest with its story. Yes the story of this movie might be told and filmed in a slow way but the movie is only 112 minutes long, so this shouldn't be a serious complaint. The movie is never dragging and not 1 minute shorter or longer than was needed.

It should be so that everyone who is about to see or has seen "The Shawshank Redemption" should also watch "Escape from Alcatraz" and then ask yourself this: What does "The Shawsank Redemption" has got that this movie hasn't and what is that makes it that "The Shawshank Redemption" is so incredibly high in the IMDb top250 while "Escape from Alcatraz" isn't even in that same top250.

For the record, I like "The Shawshank Redemption" very much as a movie and even though I think (and also thought so before seeing this movie) that it is a bit of an overrated movie, I would probably still rate it an 9/10.

But enough about "The Shawshank Redemption", let's talk about the quality of this movie. What makes "Escape from Alcatraz" an absolute classic is the atmosphere and like I said before the realism of the characters, the events and the story in general. It was also great to see Clint Eastwood in this role. Before this movie he mostly only played just the hero's in westerns like "Buono, il brutto, il cattivo, Il", "Hang 'Em High" and "The Outlaw Josey Wales" and in WW II movies like "Kelly's Heroes" and "Where Eagles Dare" or as super cop Harry Callahan in "Dirty Harry". I think this is more a movie in which Clint shows his acting abilities. Also I enjoyed seeing Patrick McGoohan, to be fair I only saw him in three movies before this: "Braveheart" his small role in "A Time to Kill" and the Columbo movie "Columbo: Ashes to Ashes". But despite that fact that I only saw him a small amount of roles, I already adored him as an actor. He was also great in this movie and wow, he looked so incredibly young compared to the movies I had seen him in.

In my opinion THE ultimate prison movie and an absolute classic, due to its atmosphere and realism.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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