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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look42.36%
Average: 15.97%
Pretty Bad: 18.06%
Total Crap: 12.5%

10 reviews, 84 user ratings

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Island, The (2005)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Bay's best movie yet -- but he's still a long way from brilliant."
4 stars

Filmmaker Michael Bay is well aware that his films are pretty much loathed, detested, and reviled by most film critics. And when a movie is loathed, detested, and reviled by a whole lot of film critics, that generally means that the movie at hand, well, it probably sucks. But don't tell that to the teeming throngs of multiplex monkeys, because Bay's last three efforts (Bad Boys 2, Pearl Harbor, Armageddon) were huge moneymakers all across the globe. Yes, Michael Bay knows full well what the film critics think of his films -- and it's obvious he couldn't care less. But after enjoying the hell out of "The Island" (despite its solid catalog of flaws) I'm beginning to think the guy just might be on the lookout for a few brownie points.

You name it, sci-fi wise, and it's bound to be found in The Island: Blade Runner, Gattaca, Minority Report, Logan's Run, The Matrix, Coma, hell, even the 1970s obscurity known (to a few of us) as Parts: The Clonus Horror is picked clean and gussied up for a modern audience. There's not a whole lot in The Island that's entirely new or even remotely unique ... which helps to give Bay's latest flick a "greatest hits" sort of vibe. And, like they say, if you're going to steal, you might as well steal from the best.

The Island is about an underground colony full of clones, "replacement part" humans owned by millionaires on the outside. The clone population is blissfully unaware of their social status, and from the moment they're created these poor souls have little to look forward to -- outside of winning "the lottery" and being rewarded with a trip to "the island." I'll spoil the plot no further, but any astute movie geek who's seen the film's trailer can probably tell you what "the island" represents, and let's just say it doesn't involve Gilligan or Mr. Rourke.

Ewan McGregor plays Lincoln Six Echo, the only clone who dreams of a world outside of his pristine and gleaming colony. And when the shocking truth about his life and lineage come to light, Lincoln grabs a hold of his favorite lady clone (Scarlett Johansson) and hightails it into the "real world" as a gang of manhunting mercenaries give feverish chase.

And that's pretty much the long and the short of The Island, although there are several deft and surprisingly clever touches along the way. It might not be brain surgery (heck, it's hardly even a tonsillectomy), but I say Bay deserves points for trying something grander and more thought-provoking than the merciless brain-rape that was Bad Boys 2.

The Island truly is a movie of three distinct and clearly delineated acts. Act I is pure sci-fi stew, with lots of shiny settings, lofty concepts, and gee-whiz gizmos. Act II is pure chase, escape, and more chase. Act III is a kind of a mess, as if Mr. Bay wasn't exactly sure how to marry the slick sci-fi stuff to his overpoweringly kinetic action material, and so the movie just sort of wanders toward a conclusion that's quietly satisfying at the same time it's predictably simple-minded.

But for most of The Island's 130 minutes, it's just a helluva fun ride. (And this is coming from a guy who considers Bad Boys 2 and Pearl Harbor two of the worst Hollywood movies of the past ten years.) It almost seems as if Bay took an early shine to directing something with half a brain, and then just decided, about halfway through, to re-focus on what he likes best: huge, illogical, and hyper-kinetic mayhem of the craziest sort -- and if it weren't for his hard-working and consistently excellent pair of lead performers, I'd be calling The Island "a great opening hour followed by a quick descent into helpless mediocrity."

Call it a pleasant surprise or call it a guilty pleasure, but I've seen The Island twice already, and both times I found myself having a damn good time. Sure, most of the action sequences come dangerously close to self-parody, and sure, there are plot holes and questionable character motivations aplenty, but there's also a healthy handful of thought-provoking ideas in here -- and I don't care what anyone says: A Michael Bay movie that boasts a few thought-provoking ideas is absolutely a step in the right direction. (And considering that Bay's next movie will be a live-action adaptation of The Transformers, I suppose I should enjoy this modicum of intelligence while I can.)

One thing I cannot forgive is the overwhelmingly obnoxious number of blatant product placements. Practically every ten minutes sees the introduction of a new brand, from Xbox to Puma to Aquafina to MSN -- and about a dozen more in between. It's almost like Bay and his synergy-loving producers were hell-bent on pissing off even those audience members who are enjoying the movie, just as long as the corporate sponsors are kept happy.

But if I can sit here and gripe about plot holes, product placement, and a hearty handful of other speed bumps, and still give The Island a solid 4 (out of 5) stars, that's gotta tell you something about the good stuff. From the borrowed-yet-still-fascinating sci-fi material to the huge and dazzling action scenes, taking into account the superlative work from McGregor and Johansson, and including the "quieter" moments that Bay allows to patiently percolate -- The Island is a damn good bit of fun. And call it "damning with faint praise" if you like, but The Island, clearly visible warts and all, is easily the best film of Michael Bay's career.

If I'm allowed to haul back and verbally savage the guy who subjected me to the ceaseless visual filth that is "Bad Boys 2," I think it's only fair to dole out the praise when the same filmmaker manages to keep me entertained for two hours. "The Island" is sketchy and messy on several levels, but it's also plain ol' escapist fare that boasts a lot of zing, two characters you'll actually care about, and just enough of a brain to keep me from being insulted. I may end up being among the minority when all's said and done, but "The Island" simply worked for me, and at times it worked supremely well. Let's hope this movie makes some cash; otherwise it's back to the Michael Bay that truly deserves the critical derision, fanboy lambasting, and one-star reviews.

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originally posted: 07/22/05 13:53:18
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User Comments

9/14/17 morris campbell decent no more no less 3 stars
12/29/12 Man Out Six Bucks Libertarian Logan's Run vs. a really, really big fan blade 4 stars
12/17/09 Philip It was okay, I agree completely that the first half was awesome.. 4 stars
3/06/09 Elaine My favorite movie!! I love everything about it. Cast is amazing and the story is fantastic! 5 stars
12/02/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
7/11/08 Mr. Christian Notable for its viewpoint.Hardcore sci-fi coated in action.Good attention to detail. 4 stars
2/08/08 Anthony Feor Bay delivers his estounding visual effects. If only more time was spent on the script. 3 stars
9/17/07 David Graham probably bays best film yet 5 stars
5/27/07 kitfo plot premiseundeveloped, the chase scene made me laugh, Buscemi phoned it in: a total waste 2 stars
5/26/07 Jim Better than I expected 4 stars
5/20/07 fools♫gold Has too many funny and even clever moments for me to give italowerrating. AT LEAST an 8/10. 4 stars
4/22/07 Jamie Jones I love the movie. The set is amazing and the cars are sweet. 4 stars
4/18/07 David Pollastrini Scarlett Looks hot in this! 3 stars
3/20/07 Stanley Thai Such a great popcorn film. It even has a great mysterious story. 4 stars
2/09/07 The chode Not bad, worth the rental. 4 stars
2/06/07 Matt Okay at times, but overall thoroughly ho-hum. 3 stars
1/05/07 jerg Not bad, but too flawed and familiar, Bay bullshit etc. 3 stars
11/06/06 Anne I enjoyed it. Great if you don't analyse it too much 4 stars
10/16/06 Steve Newman Great plot, not bad acting, film was 20 minutes too long 4 stars
10/03/06 annoymous whoever Lybarger is no offence but you obviously don't see many movies. your a dick!!! 4 stars
8/23/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen Entertaining, if you don't think about it too much 4 stars
8/22/06 Jill Great - not properly marketed as the fun sci-fi it is 4 stars
5/11/06 Yusuf Cassim Great plot with unlimited suspence! 5 stars
5/08/06 Doxiegal Utterly dull, derivative and brainless. 2 stars
4/25/06 Mer Hathaway i enjoyed it 5 stars
4/10/06 Blair Luvs it 5 stars
4/04/06 Mike great,loved it,good action packed film. 5 stars
4/01/06 island it rules 5 stars
4/01/06 Nobody Exciting with great FX (especially truck scene!) 4 stars
3/14/06 Eileen a little bit fun, not great 3 stars
3/09/06 Dk Bay has finely grown up and made a good movie 4 stars
3/08/06 Quigley the action was good, but it was nothing new. what killed it was the mood and the LENGTH! 3 stars
2/27/06 Doug Good, but action sequences were over the top 4 stars
2/27/06 Steven Lewis It's like Equilibrium + THX1138 + 6th Day. 3 stars
2/06/06 Anthony Feor Very good movie 4 stars
1/17/06 Indrid Cold Looks great + some good action + a passable script = above average 4 stars
1/05/06 me nothing great or terrible 4 stars
1/01/06 baba booey das a good movie. 5 stars
12/29/05 tony Done well with extremly styalized action! This ones a keeper! 4 stars
12/28/05 Taylor Fladgate worth a rental...makes you think! 3 stars
12/26/05 zhivago interesting take on future society, LOTS of prod. placement 5 stars
12/17/05 Caiphn A movie that tapers off into something simply awful. 2 stars
12/14/05 Jeff Anderson More entertaining & better than you would expect from Michael Bay! Buscemi STANDS OUT! 5 stars
12/04/05 Zigga Product Placement like a mother fucka!...good lord! 4 stars
11/24/05 noops some unbeleivable scenes... still ok 4 stars
11/22/05 Kurtis J. Beard Acting is weak - w/ exception to Buscemi. Story is all too familiar. Bay sucks! 2 stars
11/16/05 Sam sucks 1 stars
10/27/05 Michael Kondo this movie was not even close to good, my friend found it bearable though 2 stars
10/27/05 deadwiz Fun action, tipical Micheal Bay film. 3 stars
10/23/05 Aksentiy Gula I think this is the greatest movie aver espesialy that scarlet johansson in the movie 5 stars
9/21/05 Eric Fortune This movie was bad. I'm glad I saw it at the cheap theater. 2 stars
9/19/05 Jonathon Holmes please, for the love of God, somebody kill off Micheal Bay!!! 1 stars
9/09/05 Clayton A bit trying at times, but Ewan and Scarlett made it all worth while. 4 stars
9/07/05 y2mckay a mish mash of better sci fi movies, but some good chases. Drags on 30 minutes too long. 3 stars
8/29/05 ES Surprise, this movie had much more thought & detail in it than first assumed = pretty good 4 stars
8/26/05 JamesBorges pretty entertaining, dont know why it did so bad 4 stars
8/23/05 Alyson This movie was great. No idea why it flopped. Two Ewans<3<3<3<3 5 stars
8/20/05 malcolm MC Duncan wasted. not enough space to list movies borrowed from-matrix,coma,blade runner 4 stars
8/16/05 Quigley ewan and scarlett are great. cliqued, but entertaining. scarlett was drop-dead hot, man! 4 stars
8/15/05 Frenzy Realy not bad 4 stars
8/13/05 John Bale With references to 1984, Brazil, and The Matrix. Good chase sequences keep you from boredom 4 stars
8/09/05 Bubba Fish The best action-packed sci-fi thriller since Minority Report 5 stars
8/07/05 Aaron McGraw Not too shabby 4 stars
8/06/05 Greg Ursic I must have seen a different movie as I really enjoyed this one 4 stars
8/06/05 Kurt Birusingh Good idea squandered. 3 stars
8/05/05 carl no brainer fun 5 stars
8/03/05 DARRYL LAMBERT, SR a great movie from start to finish. I will definitely be willing to see this again. 5 stars
8/01/05 Maalstrom Somewhat bland. Failed to excite me at all. 2 stars
7/29/05 Green Gremlin An updated version of "Logan's Run" with elements of "The Truman Show" and "Coma" 4 stars
7/27/05 jcjs so entertaining, fun, fast, a delight..Johansson, too 5 stars
7/26/05 Naka Booo. Great idea, typical shitcan Michael Bay execution. Skip it. 1 stars
7/26/05 Spednik Drlathlan A movie set in 2019 and the hottest cars they have are trickedout Mercedes and Chyslers?? 3 stars
7/25/05 Suke Rehashed plot, pretty uninspired attempt. Sci-Fi is in deep space right now. 3 stars
7/25/05 Mike Madryga An entertaining and, at times, thought-provoking movie. Decent. 4 stars
7/25/05 Balls MacGee Bay should be severely chastized for not letting Scarlet show her boobs. 1 stars
7/25/05 Frank Newhouse It was...ok..too much hype and advertisment for a shallow popcorn movie..tight effects tho. 3 stars
7/25/05 Bill Pryor MTV science fiction. I wasn't expecting much and didn't get much. 2 stars
7/24/05 KingNeutron Damn, I was looking fwd to this; but: SLOPPY STORYTELLING!! Some good parts tho. 3 stars
7/24/05 Josh Loved the first half, enjoyed the second half, gawked at the stitches holding on the ending 4 stars
7/24/05 Bobby The Squid Fun, but way too much product placement. Why are all cars in the future 2005-6 models? 3 stars
7/23/05 Kristina Williams it was ok 4 stars
7/21/05 Emily Damn you Michael Bay!!! I should have known! 1 stars
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  22-Jul-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2005



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