Monday, December 4, 2006

The Island


Rescue Me

Watch out! Director Michael Bay has decided to direct a “high-concept” movie that tackles actual “issues”. Could it be he actually wants us to think while watching one of his films? What--and ruin his reputation? Bay is very consistent is his movie making, and what he usually gives us is loud, flashy and dumb, complete with pretty actors running away from his pyrotechnics. Is The Island any different from classic Bay fodder such as Bad Boys, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor? The good news--yes! The bad news--it’s much worse!

In the near future, survivors of “the contamination” live together in a quarantined, Orwellian facility, awaiting their chance to win “the lottery”, which will send them to “the island”--the last uncontaminated place on earth. Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan MacGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johanssen) are good friends, obediently preparing for their chance at paradise. Lincoln is the inquisitive type, however, and his questions lead to some dark discoveries about who he is, and what “the island” isn’t.

What we’ve got here is a modern combo remake of two older sci-fi efforts: Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979) and Logan’s Run (1976). Don’t worry if name-dropping those two movies gives you any hints about what’s coming. If you have seen the trailer or any commercials, you are safe in knowing there are no surprises left to anticipate. What a relief!

Bay’s unique spin is to bury everything of interest (characters, relationships, observations about society, etc.) under an immense slab of flashy visuals and ludicrous action. The movie then becomes one long chase scene--repetitive, boring, and totally unbelievable. Sure the effects and stunt work are all good, but who cares?

I like these actors (and supporting actors Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi and the sweaty but miscast Djimon Hounsou), but they are constantly upstaged by Bay’s obnoxious visual machine, and his desperation to drive his “message” down our throats. The actors become effects themselves, at the service of the preposterous script by Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (it took three people to write this crap?).

Watching this film is a moviegoer’s worst nightmare: lure you in with a decent setup, then throw you to the wolves. The last 2/3 of the movie was a waste of my time, and I grew angrier the longer I had to endure it (the running time is 2:18, but it felt a lot longer). I have never been impressed by a Michael Bay film. In that one respect, The Island does not disappoint.

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