2005 - PG-13 - 118 Mins.
|Director: Michael Bay|
|Producer: Walter F. Parkes|
|Written By: Caspian Tredwell-Owen|
|Starring: Ewan McGregor, Scarlette Johansson, Sean Bean, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan |
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
|Official Site: www.theisland-themovie.com/|
Leave it to director Michael Bay (‘Pearl Harbor,’ ‘Armageddon’) to unwittingly remake a sci-fi classic into an action movie, without any thought-provoking aftertaste. ‘The Island’ is a roller coaster of a summer movie, but as the latest in the “Utopia Gone Wrong” sci-fi genre, it’s disappointingly brain damaged in spite of a brilliant cast (including Sean Bean, Michael Duncan Clarke, Djimon Hounsou, and Steve Buscemi), great effects, and stunning scenery. What? A special effects movie without a good script? Say it ain’t so!
Send in the clones! Don't bother, they're here!
Movie buffs familiar with the likes of ‘THX 1138,’ ‘Soylent Green,’ ‘Coma,’ and ‘Logan’s Run’ will recognize ‘The Island.’ A corporation grows clones for human organ transplants. But ethically, they crossed the line years ago when they decided that instead of growing them in vegetative states, the clones did better conscious, alive and kicking.
So when you have a community of clones, waiting for their turn on the surgery table, what do you do? In ‘The Island,’ the clones are exercised, fed by nutritionists and kept in tiptop shape. But to keep them in the dark, the clones are told that the world was destroyed in a nuclear war but that there exists only their facility – sort of a giant health spa – and an island paradise. Win a lottery, win a spot on the island. Each clone eagerly awaits a chance to go the island, not realizing that instead, it’s a trip to the operating room.
In this world, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) also eagerly awaits a lottery win, but he’s curious about his world and starts to question why he’s stuck wearing a white track suit. One question leads to another until he discovers that outside the facility is a world that hasn’t been nuked at all. He drags his best friend, Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) outside where they discover the big lie.
Logic errors abound – this is a Michael Bay flick, after all. The first major flaw happens when Jordan doesn’t question Lincoln at all when he pulls her out of the facility. Raised to worship the wonderful Island lottery, it’s absolutely bizarre when she eagerly follows Lincoln on what would seem to be a bizarre and suicidal journey outside the facility into the supposedly contaminated wastelands.
The renegades make their way to mid-21st century Los Angeles which looks a lot like today’s Los Angeles except all the cars are new Chryslers or Cadillacs. It’s a cheap way to give the streets a futuristic sheen but one might think that a brand new 2006 car would look pretty ratty by 2050.
There are homages to other sci-fi flicks – most notably, the ‘Star Wars’-like speeders that were probably designed to hook McGregor, a motorbike aficionado. And some skyscraper stunts look like shot-for-shot “tributes” to ‘The Matrix.’
Though secondary to the action, our two leads are also a mixed pair. McGregor plays clone boy with his trademark wide-blue-eyed wonder, but there’s a nice twist when he meets his original self. Johansson is blonde eye candy with few lines of dialogue, playing the damsel in discomfort. When she spots her original self’s Calvin Klein ads, it’s one of the flick’s few spots of irony. But deep sci-fi themes about the rights and lives of clones, the subtext about abortion, and the current debate about stem cell research – ‘The Island’ conveniently sidesteps to concentrate on the action as big things blow up and crash into the ground. If Michael Bay has any message in this movie, it’s lost in the noise as our cute leads try to yell, “clones are people too!”