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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 Erik Childress

"Joey, Do You Like Movies With Guys From Gladiator?"
2 stars

If Michael Bay truly was attempting to strengthen his image as a filmmaker by tackling loftier, brain-busting scripts then he should have woken up from his dreams of the way bombs fall or at least looked past the one he was handed in The Island. Steven Spielberg himself, like those of us far-sighted enough to see past Bay’s “devil” image in Hollywood, is the one who approached Bay with this project and if anyone has an eye for directorial talent (Dante, Zemeckis), it’s him. Alas, Bay has tripped over himself once again with his penchant for frantic, nearly indefinable and emotionally uninvolving action. To be fair, once your screenplay runs out of ideas and proves to be as stupid as anything you’ve ever made, you have to make up for it somehow.

The Island opens promisingly enough with an intriguing premise right out of classic science-fiction. And when I say “classic” I mean taken from other films in the 1970s. This film hides its secrets a little better than say Parts: The Clonus Horror, if only you’ve managed to avoid seeing any of the teasers. In the not-too-distant future, an apocalyptic catatstrophe have sent the survivors into a guarded-off utopia where all aspects of their health is guarded over. Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) wakes up every morning to have his urine analyzed and bacon-craving denied before heading off to his menial job and sessions with Merrick (Sean Bean), the resident shrink and leader of the community.

Unsystematic lotteries are held to choose the hourly, daily or weekly (no one ever seems to question the random scheduling) recipients of the chance to go to the island, the “last pathogen-free zone” where they can supposedly sit on a beach sipping umbrella drinks for the rest of their lives. The filmmakers immediately begin making mistakes by clueing in the audience to something fishy before our Lincoln Six Echo eyes have a chance to grasp the horror that awaits this society. Just as his closest companion (but not too close, since proximity warnings must leave room for the Holy Ghost), Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) wins her ticket away, Lincoln discovers that they are being born-and-bred for parts to an outside world that still exists and it’s time to run.

Thus ends the ideas portion of the evening and onto the run-and-chase portion. Not that this is a turnoff since many of the horrific discoveries of sci-fi, from Logan’s Run to Minority Report, lend to running for one’s life. But as greater mortals, the more a film tells us to turn off our brain, the backup processor kicks in and we start mentally transcribing how little the film has to offer and the endless possibilities that it fails to explore.

The politics of the film steer centrally towards an anti-Stem Cell research agenda which is neither here nor there since the script’s problems expand beyond reds-and-blues. But consider where our sympathies lie with Lincoln and Jordan. They have been created for no other purpose but to serve as an extension of life for those able to pony up the dough for it. A crappy existence, no one would argue. Consider the ramifications of how a serious sci-fi drama would approach this and where The Island stops before it gets going. Jordan is the clone of a fashion model who has been involved in a life-threatening accident (shades of Terry Schiavo). Instead of bringing Jordan face-to-face with her real self and possibly even sympathizing with the plight of a person (without whom she never would have been born) and considering the weighty issue of willfully sacrificing herself to save the “real” Jordan, she just sees Johansson’s actual Calvin Klein ad (one of MANY blatant product placements in the film), calls her home and the issue is dropped. Hell, wouldn’t it have been interesting to see a human sacrifice their self to save their clone?

Naturally, this opens the door for more questions whose answers are never conveyed or implied in their entirety. How known is the cloning corporation? Certainly the wealthy are the only ones with five million in their accounts for the bill, but do the middle class and poor envy, protest or are they even aware of what’s going on? Should an emergency arise, is there an illustrated man on their driver’s license for “clone”? When the clones escape, an independent brute force (headed by Djimon Hounsou) is hired to intercept. Clearly there’s some secrecy since a clone of a famous playboy could cause some problems for the real deal, especially if he’s breaking the law. If Merrick’s squad must steal them from the cops, then someone is keeping something quiet but the implications of how far that silence reaches is never considered for a minute. And that’s just the brain working overtime on a script that punched out two acts ago.

What about the locked-down security of the facility? They monitor everyone right down to their eating habits and touchy-feely communication, but have nary a camera or guard within the maintenance corridors where Steve Buscemi can freely have lunch breaks with Lincoln and spill his guts. They are prepared for action the minute a clone tries to escape but then do their best with just a few unarmed dudes basically going “please stop” as hundreds of clones try to escape. (I suppose you don’t want to harm the “$200 million investment”, but is that a wholesale figure considering five million large amounts to only about 40 clones or did the Enron boys find some work in the future?)

How is it possible Hounsou doesn’t notice a critical bait-and-switch that occurs directly in front of him? If the clone physiology allows the potential for sexual urges (thereby discouraging touching), how do they control thoughts? One look at Johansson in her form-fitting jumpsuit eliminates the need for a Playboy subscription. Yet for having the minds of children, Lincoln and Jordan jump into their first sexual experience like old pros. Bay completely misses his moment to create something truly intimate and touching by shooting it like any ol’ PG-13 love scene we’ve ever scene. But as long as Johansson’s Jordan manages to discover two uses for her vagina, that must be an exponential improvement over just calling them bimbos in Bad Boys II and is the only modicum of progress on display.

As for the action, Michael Bay is a master at creating money shots for trailers but -- outside most of The Rock and, at least, the attack sequence in Pearl Harbor -- has consistently failed to stimulate anything but the muscles which create migraines. His highlight in The Island is yet another highway chase which features spectacular destruction (this time its train wheels being dumped off a truck and not entire automobiles or corpses) but a complete disregard for what makes a car chase so exciting. A good one does not create tension by putting the camera in the face of the car’s passenger and then moving it in and out like the exaggerated Hanks/Ducommun moment in The ‘Burbs.

Witnessed by the in-your-face product placement of xBox, Ben & Jerry, Michelob Light and Aquafina (TWICE its slammed down in front of the camera), Bay must think he is still shooting commercials and I suggest he return to that arena. His two-and-a-half minute trailers are better than his films and are filled with enough eye-catching visuals to fit perfectly in-between the Super Bowl or the Oscars. I’d be far more comfortable with him hocking colas or fast cars than hacking through a deviation of Coma, The 6th Day, The Truman Show, The Mosquito Coast and the aforementioned Clonus Horror. Having just been announced (again with Spielberg) as the director of the big-budget Transformers movie, Bay may be given one more shot to live up to his movie’s title as opposed to his own satanic moniker. If not, its time to retire him once and for all. We’ve already got enough clones of dismal action directors.

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originally posted: 07/22/05 14:02:35
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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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