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Overall Rating

Awesome: 11.11%
Worth A Look42.36%
Just Average: 15.97%
Pretty Crappy: 18.06%
Sucks: 12.5%

10 reviews, 84 user ratings

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Island, The (2005)
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by Peter Sobczynski

"An especially krusty clone of a film"
1 stars

Michael Bay’s “The Island” is a futuristic thriller in which a soulless clone, constructed from material taken from a living and thriving individual, gradually begins to develop an intelligence of its own. If only the same thing had happened to the film itself. Instead, it is a loud and aggressively idiotic clunker consisting entirely of elements stolen outright from other, better films and noisy action scenes that have been edited in such a rapid-fire manner that even if there was a visual on display that you wanted to watch for more than five seconds at a time, you wouldn’t be able to. As a result, it plays less like a coherent story and more like a reel of coming-attractions previews for films that could inspire a new box-office slump all by themselves.

In the not-too-distant future–a time far enough away to allow for the development of items such as flying motorcycles but close enough to allow for product-placement plugs for the likes of Xbox and Aquafina water–we learn that an environmental disaster has made much of the planet uninhabitable and the survivors live in a special indoor colony–which looks like a cross between an upscale shopping mall and the kind of gym where actual exercise is a low priority–where their health and well-being is under constant supervision. There is one habitable area left, a paradise known as The Island, and weekly lotteries are held in order to allow a lucky survivor to transfer over to bask in the fresh air and sunshine. However, since this is a Michael Bay film, it appears that big breasts are still in fashion–to paraphrase Leonard Cohen, “I’ve seen the future, baby, and it’s hooterrific”.

As the story opens, one such survivor, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor), is beginning to have strange and unexplainable nightmares and they, in turn, are beginning to inspire even more unexplainable questions about himself and his existence. Where, for example, did that flying bug that he found on a restricted level come from when such things were supposedly killed off. Also, he has a job inserting nutrient mixtures into long tubes–where exactly do those tubes wind up? (If you want to remain surprised and have somehow managed to avoid the trailers, which apparently make a point of revealing all the surprises, you should probably consider this a spoiler warning for the remainder of the review.)

It turns out that Lincoln and Co. are not survivors of any ecological disaster. Instead, they are living clones that have been created from the cells of people rich and vain enough to afford such things to serve as spare parts in case a kidney fails or someone wants to have a baby without any of those pesky stretch marks. Lincoln discovers this horrible secret and he, along with fellow clone Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson), manages to flee the facility. Unfortunately for them, they wind up in the middle of Arizona–a fate worse than a soulless clone farm, in the minds of many, but it luckily places them right next to a biker bar where they can find a lab technician (Steve Buscemi, supplying the film’s only real juice) who can explain the plot to them.

Since the presence of living clones would pose a serious threat to his business–clients are under the impression that their clones are lying in a vegetative state and are not alive in response to eugenics laws–the evil mad scientist in charge (Sean Bean) sends in a team of hunters, led by ex-Navy SEAL Djimon Hounsou, to eradicate the two problems before they cost him hundreds of millions of dollars. (Of course, he could probably make up that shortfall simply by making multiple clones of Scarlett Johansson for the ever-expanding market of rich and unsavory perverts, but that notion doesn’t seem to have dawned on him–either that or I have just stumbled upon the premise for the highly-unlikely sequel.) Meanwhile, Lincoln and Jordan make their way to Los Angeles to look up their original versions and expose the shocking secret behind their existence, only to discover that their potential saviors have their own pressing reasons for keeping things quiet.

At this point, even the most casual fan of science-fiction films will recognize that “The Island” engages in the kind of wholesale pilfering of material from other, better sources to such a blatant degree that the only real interest it generates comes from trying to guess where it is going to steal from next. Titles such as “The Matrix,” “Brave New World,” “Coma,” “Logan’s Run” and “Blade Runner” are just a few of the better-known titles to have their ideas and imagery jammed together into a crazy-quilt screenplay that feels at times like a compilation reel than an actual story. More dedicated viewers will recognize that practically all of the key story points seen–a mysterious facility where clones unaware of their true purpose are raised for spare parts, one clone beginning to question his existence, a vague and secret romance with a fellow clone, the discovery of the truth, an escape to the real world and a meeting with the original and less-than-helpful version–come directly from a little-known 1978 B-movie title called “Parts: The Clonus Horror.” This isn’t just an act of homage on the level of Rob Zombie appropriating imagery from “Last House on the Left” for “The Devil’s Rejects” or Quentin Tarantino raiding the memories of his misspent youth–this is outright theft done to such a scale that you have expect Peter Graves to suddenly pop up. Now I am not about to sit here and insist on the unsung genius of “Parts”–it is a crappy little bit of junk that would have probably been all but forgotten if it hadn’t turned up as fodder for a particularly inspired episode of “Mystery Science Theater 3000" (although I did like that the talisman that inspired the main clone to question his existence was a discarded can of Old Milwaukee)–but it did have a certain modest ambition to it that was sadly undone by a meager budget. However, the similarities between the two films are so striking that I wouldn’t be surprised, unless there has been some kind of quiet settlement that hasn’t been publicly announced, if there was an announcement before long of a massive plagiarism suit on the horizon.

I wouldn’t have even minded the plagiarism that much if Bay had actually used all of the resources that he had at his disposal to do something interesting with the material. Sadly, his vision of the future is chintzy and creatively impoverished. The views that we get of the secret clone colony make it look as if the entire complex was bought on the cheap at the estate sale of a former James Bond villain–another one of those establishments with long and antiseptic corridors populated by jumpsuit-clad minions. The portrayal of the outside world is just as uninspired; aside from the flying motorcycles, everything basically looks the same as it does now. Even the cloning material is surprisingly uninspired and raises more questions than it bothers to answers. For example, the entire process of harvesting material, which seems to consist of killing the clone in order to remove the necessary parts, seems sort of wasteful–if a client needs another part sometime down the line, do they have to cough up $5 million for a new one or are they covered for additional replacements. For that matter, why even bother with the whole charade of the ecological disaster and the Island in the first place? Just have them be raised to blindly accept that they are being sacrificed to save the lives of those who can afford it and have the story revolve around their realization of the monstrousness of such a situation. Instead, Bay devotes his energy to staging another enormous car chase that is virtually indistinguishable from the one in “Bad Boys 2,” aside from the fact that this one manages to restrain itself from using corpses as speed bumps.

In fact, that only real mystery and intrigue regarding the film comes from wondering how so many talented actors got coaxed into appearing in it. Steve Buscemi–okay, it probably gave him a lot of money for a few days of work and would allow him to be able to afford to do some smaller and quirkier projects. I can even sort of understand why the uncommonly talented Scarlett Johansson would allow herself to go slumming here–she has never, with the possible exception of that giant spider film, really done a big effects-laden extravaganza and she probably wanted to get a chance to tap into her inner Farrah by bouncing around in a tight jumpsuit. The presence of Ewan McGregor, however, is frankly inexplicable. This is a strong actor who made no secret of his frustrations working on the recent “Star Wars” films due to the less-than-challenging screenplays and a director more concerned with the flashy digital backgrounds than with those pesky flesh-and-blood creations in the foreground. Finally free of those film for good, what does he choose for a follow-up project? He goes off to work with the only director alive who could possibly make George Lucas look like Ingmar Bergman by comparison. Then there is Djimon Hounsou, who once again plays the mysterious black guy who winds up sacrificing everything he has in order to help the strange white people–a role that he seems to play in every film he appears in these days.

The nicest thing that one can say about “The Island” is that it is Michael Bay’s best work in years. This says less about the intrinsic qualities of the film itself and more about the fact that it isn’t quite as morally, ethically or historically repellent as “Pearl Harbor” or “Bad Boys 2". Those title are all-time clunkers, the kind of films that are so bad that they make you never want to set foot in a movie theater again. By comparison, “The Island” is just a brainless and noisy bit of derivative junk–an especially crusty clone that thankfully evaporates from the mind as soon as it enters. It will inspire you to set foot in another movie theater–most likely before this one has hit the half-hour mark.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=12591&reviewer=389
originally posted: 07/22/05 00:00:07
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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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