*1/2 (out of 5)
July 22, 2005
Ewan McGregor as LINCOLN SIX ECHO
Scarlett Johansson as JORDAN TWO DELTA
Djmon Hounsou as ALBERT LAURENT
Sean Bean as MERRICK
Steve Buscemi as MCCORD
Michael Clarke Duncan as STARKWEATHER
Studio: Warner Bros. and DreamWorks
Directed by: Michael Bay
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Michael Bay is the Antichrist. “The Island” is clearly a sign of the apocalypse. It’s Michael Bay at his worst. He desperately trying to be cerebral but failing miserably and covering things up with cool shots, lots of useless explosions and supermodels. Now, I’m all for eye candy in a movie, but Bay takes it to a ridiculous level. Instead of a movie, he’s delivered a beer commercial version of “Logan’s Run” for the lobotomized.
When I first heard about “The Island,” I had a stupid glimmer of hope that he might actually turn out a good film. Maybe it was Jerry Bruckheimer (the producer of every one of his films but this one) who was holding him down.
What’s most insulting about “The Island” is its utter lack of acknowledgement of people’s intelligence. Bay’s “style” of ignoring character and focusing on action is more apparent than ever in this movie. I can respect his action sequences, but never before has it been so clear that he doesn’t just favor it over plot. He actually loathes plot in this movie.
“The Island” tells the story of a crop of clones that are bred so their organs can be harvested in case something happens to their doners. Anyone with even a rudimentary knowledge of science fiction has seen this plot done multiple times. Most notably, this is the identical plot of an awful low-budget film called “Part: The Clonus Horror,” which had been torn to shreds on “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”
In the hands of a competent director, this movie could have been quite good, and that’s the real crime here. If you want an action film, go to Michael Bay. If you want an interesting science fiction film, get someone else. There was fertile ground to really look at some interesting character motives and development. Instead, Bay runs the story into the ground with eye-popping visuals that make no sense and some of the worse dialogue to grace the screen since Steven Seagal stopped making major releases.
Bay has been lauded as a visually stunning director, and he is. However, his bag of tricks is empty. Not only is he recycling lame characters and imagery, he’s completely ripping off his own films. Remember the cars falling off the back of the truck in “Bad Boys II”? That’s in this movie? Remember the slow motion tilt up and dolly around the actor in every film from “Bad Boys” to “Pearl Harbor”? It’s here as well. Remember the soldiers exiting the helicopter in “The Rock”? Yup, he used that again.
It was clear in this movie that Bay didn’t care about anything but whether something looked cool. I can forgive a lot of stupidity and suspend a lot of disbelief, but there was something like this around every corner. Throughout the production, people had to have been telling Bay that things don’t make sense, but apparently he chose to ignore them.
For example… If these are clones with all individuality suppressed, why are they given branded Puma sneakers and drink Aquafina water? How is it that Scarlett Johansson’s clone, whose only wore sneakers before suddenly be able to run in high heels? If trains are obsolete, why are they on a truck carrying train wheels? How can Ewan McGregor’s clone learn a Scottish accent in only two minutes? How can the clones emerge from a bunker in the middle of a desert and walk to the nearest town?
It gets worse. Once the clones get out of the facility and head to L.A., this movie turns into the dumbest action movie ever. Characters behave like they’re in the middle of a high-octane video game, blowing up everything around them yet claiming to be subtle in hunting down the wayward clones.
Let’s face it, folks, Michael Bay thinks we’re idiots. And for me, the feeling’s mutual.