|THE STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT (director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez; screenwriters: Tim Talbott, based on the book “The Lucifer Effect” by Philip Zimbardo; cinematographer: Jas Shelton; editors: Fernando Collins; music: Andrew Hewitt; cast: Billy Crudup (Dr. Zimbardo), Ezra Miller (Daniel Culp / 8612), Tye Sheridan (Peter Mitchell / 819), Olivia Thirlby (Dr. Christina Maslach), Michael Angarano (Christopher Archer ); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Brent Emery, Lizzie Friedman, Karen Lauder, Greg Little, Lauren Bratman; Sandbar Pictures & Abandon Features; 2015)|
film ran out of gas way before it crossed
the finishing line."
by Dennis Schwartz
psychology professor Philip Zimbardo (Billy Crudup),
in 1971, recklessly films a simulated role-playing
experience in a fake prison (filmed at Stanford's
basement) to analyze bad behavior and to study
the psychological effects of incarceration on everyone
involved with the prison system. The experiment was
ended after six days due to increased violence, though
scheduled for 14 days. 24 male students were chosen to
play roles as either guards or prisoners, and were
paid $15 a day. Zimbardo’s simulation
of prison life followed no scientific guidelines and
yielded little of value, as its superficial findings
are something that can be observed by just watching an
ordinary prison movie. It tries to sell the
notion that Zimbardo’s experiment had a lasting value,
showing how power corrupts the guards. However, one of
the inmate posers opines, “I have to say that this has
been a very unsatisfying experience.” Which was my
reaction to this bogus fact-based experimental movie.
directed by Kyle Patrick
Alvarez as a difficult film to take lightly
because it raises very real issues. Writer Tim
Talbott bases it on the book
“The Lucifer Effect” by Philip Zimbardo.
The morbid study might have value in that it questions changes that must be made in the prisons, but the uneven film ran out of gas way before it crossed the finishing line.
the guards who stand out are: Karl (Nicholas Braun),
who plays the insecure bully, and Chris (Michael
Angarano), who adopts the Southern drawl and swagger
of Strother Martin’s prison-farm sadist in the Paul
Newman film “Cool Hand Luke.”
REVIEWED ON 4/25/2018 GRADE: C+
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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