The Shawshank Redemption Review

This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative

This is a movie where even if you haven’t seen it you’ve probably at least heard of the title. It was a really big movie after all. It’s a long epic about a tough stretch through prison and trying to get out of it in one piece. This is a powerful title but ultimately it’s far too mean spirited for me to ever call it a good movie. Getting through the initial prison chapter is rather rough and not even a solid ending could really save this movie.

We start things off with Andy being taken to court as he is accused of murdering his wife and the guy she was cheating with. He denies the charges but the circumstantial evidence is too strong and he is promptly locked up. He is then taken away to the most powerful jail in the world. Here the warden, Norton rules with an iron fist. The prisoners have no rights at this point so you either play ball or things are going to be very rough for you. The prison guards will beat you up at a moment’s notice and these are true beatings. You likely haven’t seen anything quite so intense in a while. Andy does meet some decent folks at the prison including a guy named Red who is good at getting any kind of materials from the outside. Andy will need some kind of a plan if he wants to escape this place but it definitely won’t be easy.

Right off the bat I can tell you that a big reason as to why the film is so bad for me is the villain group known as the Sisters. These guys are basically here to remind you why prison is such a tough place to be. They basically embody all of the classic horror stories about what happens in prisons and they make life really rough for Andy for a long time there. By the time that chapter of the movie is finished and that group is no more, it is quite late in the game without much of a way to get back up. The sheer amount of grit and violence here is something you may partially expect from a prison film but it doesn’t really make things any better either.

Of course people say the best thing to do is not to wind up in jail but that’s not always possible. For example Andy actually is innocent but he wasn’t able to prove that to the jurors and so he wound up here. Just about everyone in the movie claims that they are innocent as well but for the most part they all say this just to say it. You have to assume there are other innocent people here as well but it’s really tough to actually find out who qualifies and who doesn’t. It ultimately doesn’t matter once you’re stuck in there either.

After all you’re basically doomed at this point. If you don’t get taken out by one of the other prisoners or beaten up by the guards then you still have to deal with the Warden. Norton is one of the biggest crooks here and he is absolutely determined to keep all of his power. He isn’t even satisfied with being the King and also wants to be super rich. This works out well for Andy in a way because this gives him a little break as he helps the guy swindle lots of money.

It definitely pays to know your accounting and how to cook the books. At this point the books weren’t just cooked, but deep fried! It all ends up tying in to the end of the film and there are some good twists in there. One thing I can say about Shawshank Redemption is that there is always a lot going on. Some characters like Norton will alternate between being full fledged villains to guys that are actually helpful for a little while. The important thing to remember is just that you can’t really trust anybody though.

I actually liked one guy named Tommy who showed up later in the film but unfortunately he wasn’t ready for a prison quite like this one. Not everyone has a terrible time in Shawshank but I would wager that the vast majority do. Tommy’s stay didn’t seem that bad until the end but your luck just can’t hold out here. Meanwhile I have to give Andy a lot of credit for staying sane and not letting the place break him.

A good portion of the film is about hope and not giving in to despair. He definitely pulled that off and then some here. A lot of characters would have definitely broken well before he did and he had a lot of patience to keep up with his plans all the way through to the end. Meanwhile there is one more big player I hadn’t mentioned yet and that’s Red. He’s the realist of the group and gives a lot of the narration. He’s seen the worst that the prison has had to offer and has managed to navigate the place.

I’m sure it wasn’t easy to create so many connections across the jail and yet he pulled it off. He has a strong reputation in the place as well and it seems like nobody messes with him. In the jail your reputation is really the only thing that you have so you absolutely have to try and have a strong one at all times. If you don’t then you’re really as good as doomed. I liked Red and thought he had a good conclusion to his story. Ultimately the film may have been very grimdark most of the time but at least the ending is one with some hope rather than going for some kind of twisted ending.

Overall, The Shawshank Redemption is definitely not a film that I would recommend though. Prison is often not the ideal backdrop in any film for me because usually that’s a place that is going to be gritty. You can have really cool prison scenes like in one of the Fast & Furious films but when that’s the main location it’s almost always going to falter in the end and you don’t want to stick around for that. If the film could dial down the darker elements of the film then it would be a lot better and I’m sure you could do that while still making the prison an intimidating place. Instead though, watch Naruto: Blood Prison. It’s easily one of the weakest Naruto films out there but it still does the whole prison plot a lot better than this one could.

Overall 1/10

2 thoughts on “The Shawshank Redemption Review

  1. Interesting; You have a knack for watching the censored versions alot. I personally liked this film. For what it’s worth, it’s Red(Morgan Freeman) who has the redemption not Andy.

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