Dallas Movie Screening

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Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Stanford Prison Experiment

Plot: Twenty-four male students out of seventy-five were selected to take on randomly assigned roles of prisoners and guards in a mock prison situated in the basement of the Stanford psychology building.

If you were a part of this experiment, would you want to be a guard or a prisoner? It’s interesting to think about but, like one of the lines in the movie, you really don’t know what would happen when placed in the roles. It’s a fascinating experiment that will test your mental state; but will you as a viewer breakdown mentally like the characters? Here’s the deal folks, this movie has been made two other times before so, if you want to reincarnate it again, please make it standout. The 2001 German film Das Experiment tackles this study as well as The Experiment in 2010 made here in the states. I haven’t seen Das Experiment (which I hear is fantastic) but I have seen The Experiment and I thought it was ok. It felt too “Hollywood” and I never felt an emotional weight to it. How does The Stanford Prison Experiment compare? I liked it…a lot.


Pros: Kyle Patrick Alvarez has only directed two films prior and I haven’t seen any of them. After seeing this, I will check out his other work. What he brings to this incarnation is the emotional weight. I bought everything that was happening from the kids partaking in the experiment. He creates a slow deterioration of your mental state as the film progresses putting in right into the situation. That’s the thing I appreciated the most. He brings up fascinating ideas of human cruelty, the justice system, the sense of power or authority and how it can be a dangerous combination.

The film can seem repetitive. It shows the prisoners getting abused by the guards and, minus a few scenes, it’s basically the movie. Billy Crudup plays Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, the man responsible for the study, and I wish there was a tad more character development with him. I wanted more of the creator. Frankenstein’s monster is great and all but I am more interested in Frankenstein.


Pros: Everyone. I haven’t seen a movie in a long time where everyone clicked and was a great ensemble. Every single actor and actress delivers bone-chilling performances, especially the kids. This stars pretty much everyone you have seen in an independent film in the last five years like: Ezra Miller, Tye Sheridan, Michael Angarano, Keir Gilchrist, Thomas Mann, and Johnny Simmons. I am pretty sure the same producer was on all their previous films and brought them together. The guards were really vile and the prisoners were very sympathetic. That’s how you want to feel, but something at the end happened where I felt for the guards. I won’t spoil it; but this moment reflects the entire study and makes you start thinking about the ideas presented in front of you for the past hour and a half.

Cons: I wish there were more moments of Billy Crudup, as stated above, and more scenes of the kids talking after the experiment and how things will change when they cross each other in their daily lives.


Not having seen Das Experiment, I thought this was the best shot one out of the two I have seen. There was a certain glow with that rich golden color that resembled the 1970’s. That’s great because this experiment happened in the 70’s. It’s a good looking film.


Editing/Special Effects

Pros: It’s a fast movie not wasting anytime and dives right into the action. I was engaged the entire time because I was fascinated of the subject matter.

Cons: It might feel repetitive and slow to some people. And as stated above, I wish there were more development and depth for Billy Crudup. This is the type of movie to where I wouldn’t have minded if they added more to this film.

Overall: This is a great interpretation of this study and I was glued in from start to finish. The actors get lost in their roles and the direction shows us a great and disturbing character study. I wish there was more to certain characters, but this is an enticing film that will interest you on the subject alone.

Score: B

*I am trying letters for grading. This is new to me and I am scared.
(Review by Chase Lee)

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