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Overall Rating
3.22

Awesome: 11.19%
Worth A Look42.66%
Average: 15.38%
Pretty Bad: 18.18%
Total Crap: 12.59%

10 reviews, 83 user ratings


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Island, The (2005)
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by Rob Gonsalves

"Half a decent movie, before it becomes Michael Bay-ized."
3 stars

Twenty-three summers ago, when the science-fiction and fantasy genres seemed to be taking over cinema, critics worried about the dumbing-down of those genres by such movies as 'Tron,' 'Star Trek II,' 'Blade Runner,' 'E.T.,' and 'The Thing' (of course, they were wrong on some of them). I feel like going back in time, advising those critics to enjoy those relatively visionary and brainy films, and telling them they ain't seen nothin' yet.

Isaac Asimov's I, Robot got the action-flick dumbing-down last summer, and this time around we have Michael Bay, who could probably make Dostoyevsky into something stupid. Ironically, his new one, The Island, is actually a fairly decent sci-fi thriller for its first half -- immaculately designed, intriguingly written, and, for once, not edited with a Cuisinart. I began to wonder if Bay had even been on the set. Then the second half kicked in, and I didn't wonder anymore.

The movie would have been far more effective if the ads didn't give away the premise -- that young heroes Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) are actually clones of rich people in the outside world, and that they, along with thousands of other jump-suited drones in their sterile community, are being kept around until their "sponsors" on the outside need a fresh heart or kidney. The clones are kept docile by the promise that they will someday win a "lottery" and go to "the Island." Diets are strictly monitored and enforced; sexes are not allowed to mingle beyond casual friendship.

The Island actually does an ominous and detailed job of setting all this up. The movie feels as if it were once much smarter -- something on the order of Andrew Niccol's Gattaca -- and, sure enough, it probably was. Caspian Tredwell-Owen (Beyond Borders) wrote a script that caught the eye of Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks; Michael Bay was offered the project, and, predictably, the first thing he did was to hire two writers from the TV show Alias to pump it up. The script was being revised right up to the wire, literally weeks away from its premiere. The lesson here may be that the worst thing that can happen to a good script is to have Hollywood express interest in it, rather like having a rapist take an interest in your daughter.

Lincoln finds out his true destiny, courtesy of Steve Buscemi, who always plays sarcastic guys who exist to wise the hero up. Lincoln and Jordan go on the run, and here, dear friends, is where the movie finds its own destiny as a Michael Bay opus. There are idiotic chases with cars flipping end over end; there are many explosions and that bit you've seen in the ads with Lincoln and Jordan falling to earth inside a giant red R. None of this has anything to do with the core of this material, which raises thorny questions the movie blithely ignores. Lincoln meets his own "sponsor," an arrogant Scottish racer with a bad liver, and Jordan sees hers on TV but never meets her. The climax of a thoughtful film might have had Jordan's sponsor make a case for Jordan's sacrifice: "Look, you're my clone, I wasn't told that you were a sentient being and this must really suck for you. But without you I'm going to die and my child will be an orphan." How would Jordan respond to such an appeal? Good question. No answer.

Rather too easily, the "sponsors" are all rich people trying to buy immortality, and the man who runs the whole show is played by Sean Bean, that specialist in Machiavellian duplicity (he might as well have been wearing a dark pin-striped suit even in The Fellowship of the Ring). The hilarious thing is, none of the dumbing-down and pumping-up helped The Island worth a damn at the box office: it came in at #4 its opening weekend, beaten by three films that had been playing a week or more.

What kept audiences away? The Michael Bay brand name? The feeling that they'd seen the relevant parts of the film in the trailer? The been-there-done-that factor ('The Island' is more or less an unofficial remake of 1979's 'Parts: The Clonus Horror')? Maybe, with all the sequels and remakes this summer, audiences have seen quite enough clones already; they didn't want to see a clone about clones.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12591&reviewer=416
originally posted: 02/02/07 13:00:51
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User Comments

12/29/12 Man Out Six Bucks Libertarian Logan's Run vs. a really, really big fan blade 4 stars
8/28/12 roscoe INTERESTING AND VERY GOOD, BUT THE ENDING IS WEAK. TOO MUCH ACTION THAT ALL LOOKS THE SAME. 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
5/19/08 PAUL SHORTT BOMBASTIC, SILLY, HOKEY AND RETROGRADE 1 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, wow...fast 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  22-Jul-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2005

UK
  N/A

Australia
  28-Jul-2005




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