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The Island (2005)
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Review Date: December 07, 2005
Director: Michael Bay
Writer: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Caspian Tredwell-Owen
Producers: Michael Bay, Ian Bryce, Laurie MacDonald, Walter F. Parkes
Actors:
Ewan McGregor as Lincoln
Scarlett Johansson as Jordan
Sean Bean as Merrick
Plot:
Set in the year 2019, a man consistently dressed in white and living in a facility among a bunch of other “humans” draped in whiteness, starts to question his existence, as the only hope and ambition that any of them seem to have – day-to-day – is to one day be chosen to go to “The Island”. As he slowly discovers, the Island isn’t really a happy place and whoever is chosen to go there, is generally “done away” with. So what does he do? He grabs his best friend’s hand (who also happens to be a hottie) and runs, runs, runs far away (with no Flock of Seagulls in sight). Lots of sci-fi stuff and a wicked-long chase ensues.
Critique:
Over the past few years, I’ve complained about a handful of things about Hollywood, but mostly I’ve laid my rants down on its despicable manner of rehashing, remaking and rebooting anything from the past, simply to avoid “taking a chance” on a new idea, a new writer or a new director, and instead, giving us little more than recycled garbage that costs a lot of money but doesn’t raise the bar much. It’s the new world of major corporations running the studios and caring only about ROI (Return on Investment) and for that matter, BIG return on their BIG investment! If you try to explain that making a dozen smaller movies at a quarter of the price of one blockbuster might also be worth a shot, they’ll rustle you off like an ignorant punkass, but the truth is that the industry now works quarter to quarter, and doesn’t have time to wait for those long-term returns. But why this long-ass epilogue before my review of THE ISLAND?

Well, this film is a perfect example of a movie that actually does take some chances on story, deals with an engaging and morally demanding concept (cloning), doesn’t have a number stapled to the end of its title and didn’t once appear as a cartoon on MTV before turning into a big-time movie. Sure, this is a sci-fi “popcorn action” movie at its core, but when it delivers most of what it promises across the board, why shouldn’t I prop its success and at the same time, question its unfortunate failure at the box-office? Now maybe I’m just a bigger fan of science-fiction than most folk out there, but even without the futuristic stuff, this movie delivers with a intriguing basis in plot, a number of cool twists and turns, a gaggle of action sequences (once it gets going and into the “real world”), two good looking leads and a number of fun secondary characters (Steve Buscemi, as per usual, comes through as the quirky, funny guy). Granted, the film takes a little time to get going, I would have appreciated bigger parts for folks like Michael Clarke Duncan and the aforementioned Buscemi, and the ending was a little too “pat” for my taste, but if you enjoyed films like MINORITY REPORT, TOTAL RECALL and even Michael Bay’s junkyard corn fests before this one (including ARMAGEDDON and the BAD BOYS movies), I’m sure you’ll get a sweet kick out of this ditty, which doesn’t mind going a little overboard on the sauce at times, but always keeps things interesting via its stylized directing, fun storyline and zippy action sequences.

It also tosses a whole bunch of cool futuristic goodies into the mix like floating Black Wasp motorcycles, operations that you’d probably rather not know about and a slew of interesting ideas behind the whole prospect of cloning (some of which make sense!). There are some other bits that I enjoyed about the film as well, but I don’t want to give too much away, as some of that joy comes from those surprises. In the end, I guess my opening rant was to point out how people might just go see crap like MISS CONGENIALITY 2 and THE HONEYMOONERS simply because they recognize the brand names, and skip cooler, more inventive flicks like THE ISLAND, when in reality, we (I speak for movie nerds like myself) should be supporting more of this stuff, simply because you’d want to believe that studios will ultimately feel that sting at the box-office and attempt to return to the days of 1999, when movies were still being allowed to take chances and be original. Oh, and even though I recommend this film quite highly, particularly to sci-fi/action fans, I’m still a little miffed at director Bay who apparently turned down Scarlett Johansson’s proposal to toss a nude scene into the film. Scarlett…from your mouth to God’s ears, my love. Bay, you lost me a little at “PG-13”, but the rest was fun times.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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