The Island (2005)

DVD Cover (DreamWorks)
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Overall Rating 61%
Overall Rating
Ranked #520
...out of 16,701 movies
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: July 24, 2005
When it comes to bad directors, Michael Bay is one of the best. His type of film-making is most comparable to someone like Renny Harlin, who worries more about explosions and bullets than story and depth. "Bad Boys", "The Rock", and even, to a lesser degree "Armageddon" -- were all entertaining as popkorn flicks, but nothing more. They had no soul. "Pearl Harbor" was one of the worst films in cinematic history, followed closely by one of the worst sequels in cinematic history, the just plain nauseating "Bad Boys II". Michael Bay needed a hit, and he needed it badly. "The Island" is not it, at least not in terms of adding on to his box office reputation. As a film, "The Island" stands as Bay's best directorial effort to date, a film with an intriguing premise, a compelling story, and a decent delivery. Could it be that Michael Bay really does have talent? If he does have this 'so-called' talent, he needs to use it in the selection of his projects. No more sequels, okay?

This film is best described in two sections, because this is really two films. The first film deals with Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), two inhabitants of a world plagued by contamination. Survivors of the contamination are herded into a safe zone, where everything is regulated, monitored, and controlled. Their only reason for existence seems to be the hope of winning the lottery, which entitled them to go to a place known as The Island. Dr. Merrick (Sean Bean) is in charge of overseeing the area, and does so with a secret agenda. In actuality, the people who inhabit this area are clones of people on the outside, in case the real people need organ transplants, or want to give birth, but don't want to go through the pain themselves. The clones are harvested during the lottery. Winning the lottery means only one thing, for certain -- you aren't going to be around long enough to accept your prize. Most of this set-up takes place during the first forty-five minutes of the feature, with Lincoln Six Echo beginning to question his existence, and causing trouble for the good doctor, with the assistance of a technical supervisor named McCord (Steve Buscemi). When Lincoln Six Echo sees a fellow resident (Michael Clarke Duncan) harvested for his liver, he realizes something is wrong and thus we begin part two.

The second half of this film is textbook Michael Bay, though a little more creative and entertaining than his usual business. We see cars flying through the air, buildings collapsing, people barely outrunning walls of fire. These are what we have come to expect from him, and we are not disappointed. But, he still manages to keep the story going. Once Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta escape the facility, they realize that the world has not been contaminated -- there is an outside. They then set out to find their human sponsors -- their duplicates who paid to have them created. The overall goal of this mission is to shed light on this facility to the outside world, who do not know what Dr. Merrick has been doing, illegally, for years. That is how the explosions and gun battles and walls of flame come into play. Djimon Hounsou stars as Albert Laurent, a man who is hired by Dr. Merrick to exterminate the two escapees. A great deal of the last part of the film deals with his ruthlessly tracking them all across Los Angeles, whilst still revealing that he has a heart. Typical, yes. Very few surprises there. By the end of the film, something has been revolved and everything -- almost -- lives happily ever after.

Many people will say that this film is unoriginal, and I can agree with that, somewhat. "The Island" borrows heavily from science fiction epics like "The Matrix", and even more so the George Lucas classic "THX1138". It is obvious that Bay had those films in mind while directing this picture. But, there is an awful lot of originality mixed in also. I liked the way in which Bay essentially gave us a near perfect science fiction horror film during the first forty-five minutes. The scene involving Sean Bean inserting the little robot buys into Ewan McGregor's eyes was especially disturbing. The opening sequence involving McGregor's dream was both unsettling and uncharacteristic of Michael Bay. It was borderline creepy. Bay was able to send the film on a path that was quite ingenious, though he could not maintain that pace throughout. However, even the loud and obnoxious action sequences were better than usual -- very little digital animation, and mostly actual bits and pieces. The times that CGI was used, it was very well done and difficult to spot as imitation. Pay attention "Fantastic Four".

So, "The Island" was not the disaster that I assumed it would be. I give Michael Bay credit for managing to blend the action of "The Rock" with the science fiction prowess of "THX1138", without making it too difficult to watch. I am giving this a positive review for a couple of reasons: (01) compared to his previous work, this was a masterpiece, and (02) it turned out to be one of those films that both entertained the hell out of you and made you think, to an extent. This is not groundbreaking cinema, nor is it a film that people will talk about for years, even months after it leaves theatres. "The Island" is an underrated motion pictures that deserves far more consideration than something like "Fantastic Four" or "Charlie & The Chocolate Factory". I will take Ewan McGregor and white Puma jumpsuits over Johnny Depp and the Invisible Girl any day of the week. Book your reservations for "The Island" -- but don't plan on an extended stay with the locals.

pr0ph3t #1: pr0ph3t - added 08/01/2005, 06:31 AM
Not just THX1138 and the Matrix but even more Logan's Run!
Lucid Dreams #2: Lucid Dreams - added 07/11/2010, 02:41 AM
Michael Bay needs to stop making movies and Scarlett needs to get her ass to my house. 4/10
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