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10 reviews, 84 user ratings

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Island, The (2005)
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by Mel Valentin

"Hot diggity. Bay delivers one of the better popcorn flicks of the summer."
4 stars

The marketing campaign for "The Island" boldly reminds the audience that "The Island" is the latest effort from the director of "Armageddon" and "The Rock," Michael Bay. Michael Bay, however, is also the director of "Bad Boys," the cleverly titled sequel, "Bad Boys 2," and, and, lest we forget, the execrable "Pearl Harbor." To the surprise of most cineastes, "Armageddon" and "The Rock" received the so-called “Criterion” treatment usually reserved for "classic" or foreign films (i.e., extras-laden discs that exhaustively detailed the film’s production history and critical reception). Still, of Bay’s films, "The Rock" may prove to have the longest shelf-life, if not for its comic book plotline involving a hostage situation at Alcatraz or the typically over-the-top set pieces, then for its reflections of cultural attitudes and fears about terrorism and the often unacknowledged costs of war and the men who serve in them. Spoilers will be discussed in this review, so if you're a spoiler-phobe, come back after you've checked out "The Island]" (or not).

Moviegoers with even a passing familiarity with the benchmarks of American science-fiction films made in the 1970s will immediately recognize borrowed ideas and motifs in just the first few minutes of The Island. In this future, environmental contamination has made the surface world nearly uninhabitable (cf. Logan's Run), with the exception of the island of the title (a/k/a a new Garden of Eden), where a new, healthier civilization has apparently taken root. Everyone else lives in an antiseptic underground straight out of George Lucas' THX-1138. Everything is regulated for the inhabitants, from what they eat, to their moods (cf. Brave New World) and, most importantly, social interactions. Male-female social interaction is allowed, but physical contact isn't, making it difficult, if not impossible, for the hero-protagonist, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan Macgregor), to act on his feelings for another inhabitant of the underground enclave, Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson).

Like the mythical Garden of Eden, the island doesn't actually exist. Lincoln Six-Echo, Jordon Two-Delta and the others are clones created and raised to provide spare parts for their wealthy sponsors as living, breathing insurance policies against disease, accident, or the encumbrances of old age. Their creator, Merrick (Sean Bean), is anything but benign or compassionate. Lincoln’s curiosity, a human trait Merrick has tried, without success, to eradicate from newly grown clones, poses a potentially serious problem for Merrick's enterprise. It’s not long, though, before Lincoln discovers the harsh truth about his existence. With the help of a techie, McCord (Steve Buscemi), Lincoln Six-Echo and Jordan Two-Delta escape the facility.

With their escape, Bay and his screenwriters, Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman, and Roberto Orci leave THX-1138 behind, referencing mid-seventies science fiction action flick, Logan’s Run instead. Merrick hires Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou), a French-speaking mercenary, and his crew to recapture or kill Lincoln Six-Echo and Jordan Two-Delta. This development exchanges the admirable (and surprising) restraint Bay showed in the earlier scenes inside the complex for massive mayhem and destruction, a Bay specialty. On the plus side, Bay films an extended chase on a futuristic Los Angeles freeway involving cars, trucks, and hoverbikes far more cleanly than in Bay's previous, bloated action epics.

Most moviegoers will walk away satisfied with the formulaic plot turns and reversals (including a switch in allegiances that’s as predictable and perfunctory as it is welcome) that follow, including the ironic, implausible bring-down-the-edifice of capitalism ending. Leaving no generic Bay also references Logan’s Run denouement. The clones resemble Blade Runner’s replicants (in their shortened life-spans and emotional development, seed pods/clone farms "inspired" by The Matrix o borrowed straight from tParts: The Clonus Horror, a justly forgotten 1979 science fiction B-movie, In other words, no one will ever accuse The Island of originality. Given the story-based similarities between The Island and Parts: The Clonus Horror, a lawsuit for copyright infringement seems inevitable. Someone, somewhere, is about to make some money (and it's not The Island's producers).

Given the not-so-recent trend to treat the science fiction genre as an action-first, ideas-second genre (at least on film), not to mention Bay's involvement, it's not surprising that The Island takes little time and even less effort to explore the ethical, moral, and political ramifications of cloning. The Island dismisses one potentially fascinating issue, a clone’s responsibility to his or her dying “sponsor” (handled via a throwaway line near the end of the film) for the "safe" position (cloning is always wrong, regardless of the circumstances). Merrick represents the takeover of scientific research by of capitalism, but he's a caricature, not a character, a stock villain with a predictable God Complex (it gets mentioned at least twice in the film, first by a tertiary character, later by Merrick himself).

Then there’s the ubiquitous, gratuitous product placement. Some viewers will cringe, others will simply laugh at the audacity (this reviewer certainly did). Bay’s never been known for subtlety and here, Bay and his producers ensure that every product placed gets, at minimum, a loving insert shot. There is, however, one clever product placement used to advance the storyline, Scarlett Johansson’s Calvin Klein ads (which Jordan Two-Delta sees being broadcast, yes, even several decades into the future, on a television set at a department store). Given that clones are referenced as “product,” there’s a faint whiff of irony here (most likely, unintentional). For Bay and DreamWorks (the studio that financed "The Island"), anything and everything can (and should be) marketed and sold through commercial cinema, with the possible exception of human clones (but even that might change if human cloning becomes a reality in the not-too-distant future).

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12591&reviewer=402
originally posted: 07/22/05 00:09:09
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User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell decent no more no less 3 stars
12/28/12 Man Out Six Bucks Libertarian Logan's Run vs. a really, really big fan blade 4 stars
12/16/09 Philip It was okay, I agree completely that the first half was awesome.. 4 stars
3/05/09 Elaine My favorite movie!! I love everything about it. Cast is amazing and the story is fantastic! 5 stars
12/01/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
7/10/08 Mr. Christian Notable for its viewpoint.Hardcore sci-fi coated in action.Good attention to detail. 4 stars
2/07/08 Anthony Feor Bay delivers his estounding visual effects. If only more time was spent on the script. 3 stars
9/16/07 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
5/19/07 fools♫gold Has too many funny and even clever moments for me to give italowerrating. AT LEAST an 8/10. 4 stars
4/21/07 Jamie Jones I love the movie. The set is amazing and the cars are sweet. 4 stars
4/17/07 David Pollastrini Scarlett Looks hot in this! 3 stars
3/19/07 Stanley Thai Such a great popcorn film. It even has a great mysterious story. 4 stars
2/08/07 The chode Not bad, worth the rental. 4 stars
2/05/07 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
11/05/06 Anne I enjoyed it. Great if you don't analyse it too much 4 stars
10/15/06 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
8/22/06 Anastasia Beaverhausen Entertaining, if you don't think about it too much 4 stars
8/21/06 Jill Great - not properly marketed as the fun sci-fi it is 4 stars
5/10/06 Yusuf Cassim Great plot with unlimited suspence! 5 stars
5/07/06 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
4/03/06 Mike great,loved it,good action packed film. 5 stars
3/31/06 island it rules 5 stars
3/31/06 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
3/07/06 Quigley the action was good, but it was nothing new. what killed it was the mood and the LENGTH! 3 stars
2/26/06 Doug Good, but action sequences were over the top 4 stars
2/26/06 Steven Lewis It's like Equilibrium + THX1138 + 6th Day. 3 stars
2/05/06 Anthony Feor Very good movie 4 stars
1/16/06 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
12/28/05 tony Done well with extremly styalized action! This ones a keeper! 4 stars
12/27/05 Taylor Fladgate worth a rental...makes you think! 3 stars
12/25/05 zhivago interesting take on future society, LOTS of prod. placement 5 stars
12/16/05 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
11/23/05 noops some unbeleivable scenes... still ok 4 stars
11/21/05 Kurtis J. Beard Acting is weak - w/ exception to Buscemi. Story is all too familiar. Bay sucks! 2 stars
11/15/05 Sam sucks 1 stars
10/26/05 Michael Kondo this movie was not even close to good, my friend found it bearable though 2 stars
10/26/05 deadwiz Fun action, tipical Micheal Bay film. 3 stars
10/22/05 Aksentiy Gula I think this is the greatest movie aver espesialy that scarlet johansson in the movie 5 stars
9/20/05 Eric Fortune This movie was bad. I'm glad I saw it at the cheap theater. 2 stars
9/18/05 Jonathon Holmes please, for the love of God, somebody kill off Micheal Bay!!! 1 stars
9/08/05 Clayton A bit trying at times, but Ewan and Scarlett made it all worth while. 4 stars
9/06/05 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
8/25/05 JamesBorges pretty entertaining, dont know why it did so bad 4 stars
8/22/05 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
8/15/05 Quigley ewan and scarlett are great. cliqued, but entertaining. scarlett was drop-dead hot, man! 4 stars
8/14/05 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
8/08/05 Bubba Fish The best action-packed sci-fi thriller since Minority Report 5 stars
8/06/05 Aaron McGraw Not too shabby 4 stars
8/05/05 Greg Ursic I must have seen a different movie as I really enjoyed this one 4 stars
8/05/05 Kurt Birusingh Good idea squandered. 3 stars
8/04/05 carl no brainer fun 5 stars
8/02/05 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
7/25/05 Naka Booo. Great idea, typical shitcan Michael Bay execution. Skip it. 1 stars
7/25/05 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
7/24/05 Frank Newhouse It was...ok..too much hype and advertisment for a shallow popcorn movie..tight effects tho. 3 stars
7/24/05 Bill Pryor MTV science fiction. I wasn't expecting much and didn't get much. 2 stars
7/23/05 KingNeutron Damn, I was looking fwd to this; but: SLOPPY STORYTELLING!! Some good parts tho. 3 stars
7/23/05 Josh Loved the first half, enjoyed the second half, gawked at the stitches holding on the ending 4 stars
7/23/05 Bobby The Squid Fun, but way too much product placement. Why are all cars in the future 2005-6 models? 3 stars
7/22/05 Kristina Williams it was ok 4 stars
7/21/05 Emily Damn you Michael Bay!!! I should have known! 1 stars
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  22-Jul-2005 (PG-13)
  DVD: 13-Dec-2005



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