Michael Bay's Best Ever
Reviewer | 07/24/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie, because it's a "Summer, Sci-Fi/Action" flick, will probably do extremely well at the box office, if for no other reason than the fact that Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are in the cast. Regrettably, however, even after it's been out for awhile it will probably never reach as wide and diverse an audience as it deserves until it's release on DVD, when-- hopefully-- positive word of mouth recommendations will lead those who usually avoid this particular genre to it. Because "The Island," directed by Michael Bay, is a cautionary, thought-provoking tale set in the not-so-distant future that holds a mirror up to our current society and poses some serious questions about moral judgement and how unmitigated secrecy on the part of institutions and those we "should" be able to trust affects us all on a daily basis that is especially relevant in today's world.
The story concerns the survivors of a "contamination" who must dwell within a seemingly sterile, self-contained city where their happiness is paramount to those in charge, while at the same time their only hope for the future is to be the next lottery winner, which would afford them a one-way ticket to the last uncontaminated place on earth, The Island. And to tell it, director Bay, no stranger to action films with such offerings as "The Rock," "Armageddon" and "Bad Boys I&II" under his belt, has drawn upon myriad other classics of the genre and used the collective threads to successfully weave his own story and imprint it with the kind of metaphor that elevates it beyond the next action sequence or explosion. A comparison to "Logan's Run" goes without question, along with an obvious nod to "Blade Runner," a smattering of "The Matrix" and even a pinch of "Star Wars." Which is not to say this is a "copy" of any of those; it definitely is not. Bay has merely-- and wisely-- drawn upon some of the more successful elements of those films, and in most instances expanded upon them, to deliver a memorable film that far surpasses the genre's usual board of fare.
Arguably, this is Michael Bay's best overall film to date. Though he has demonstrated in the past that he knows how to do action, he has outdone even himself with this one. There is one heart-stopping scene, for example, involving a number of vehicles and helicopters that eclipses even the highly touted freeway sequence of the second "Matrix" film. The F/X are top notch, and once the action begins in earnest, he sets a pace that builds the excitement without allowing it to lay or lapse even for a second, right up to the very end. Add to that the fact that this film really has something to say, and it will make you appreciate what Bay and his company of actors and technicians have accomplished here even more.
Ewan McGregor is perfectly cast as Lincoln Six Echo, using his boyish charm, good looks and manner to lend the necessary credibility of innocence to his character. The charismatic Scarlett Johansson finds just the right note, as well, to bring her character, Jordan Two Delta, to life. Bay gives each of his actors, in turn, a moment in which to define their respective characters and underscore the plausibility of the film, and when that time comes they each succeed in a way that sustains the interest in the story beyond the action and the F/X. Excellent performances by both McGregor and Johansson.
In a supporting role, Steve Buscemi adds color to the proceedings as McCord, the man with the answers to a number of questions Lincoln Six has been asking about their environment and way of life; questions to which others in positions of authority respond with guarded circumspection, among them Merrick, one of the apparent caretakers of the city. Played by Sean Bean, Merrick is one of the pivotal characters of the film, and while Bean's performance is decent, it lacks the nuance that could have taken it to a much higher level. As it is, while effective to an extent, it is a fairly lackluster and generic portrayal.
The excellent supporting cast includes Michael Clarke Duncan (Starkweather); Ethan Phillips (Jones Three Echo); Brian Stepanek (Gandu Three Echo); Noa Tishby (Community Announcer); and Siobhan Flynn (Lima One Alpha). For most, "The Island" will be an exciting summertime diversion; but for those who pay attention to the underlying social and political significance of the story, the rewards will most likely exceed any and all expectations. And that's the magic of the movies."
One of the better films you will see this summer...honestly!
T. Henderson | The Sands Hotel | 07/30/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I hate Michael Bay. I have hated everything he has ever done. I can't stand his explosions and car chases over plot mentality. Even though "The Island" had many of these same qualitites, and it was just a redo of "Logan's Run," I still loved it!
(Minor spoilers ahead)
The story centers around two clones: Lincoln 6 Echo (McGregor) and Jordan 2 Delta (Johansson) - aren't those the coolest names ever?!! - who dwell in a futuristic utopian society. It's much like Orwell's "1984," in which everything is controlled, programmed and run by an unseen force. In this case it's a sinister doctor - masterfully played by Sean Bean - who is the "God" over the clones. Now, the clones go about their daily life, oblivious to the fact that they live underground and that their entire existent is a lie. You see, in the future, clones are grown and harvested and kept in this underground habitat. The clones only purpose is to provide vital organs to the real people that they were cloned from. For example, if you needed a liver transplant, they would grow a clone (which takes 12 months) and then take the healthy liver from the clone. Of course, the clone would have to be disposed of, which brings up an interesting moral dilemma of a side plot - would you take an organ from a clone of yourself to help you live? Don't be so quick to say no! Unfortunately, these clones have no idea that they are not real, as they have been brought up to believe that they are the survivors of a post-apocalyptic Earth. Their only chance to leave is if they win the lottery, and they are selected to travel to 'the island' - a mythical realm which happens to be the only non-contaminated place left on Earth.
The obvious question is asked, well why didn't anyone ever figure out that their life is a lie? The film answers this by stating that the clones are only schooled to a 9th grade education - no higher level thinking skills are ever developed. It's a rather interesting solution to the problem.
Much to the chagrin of the cloning industry, L6E discovers that the lottery isn't real, and neither is the island paradise. This is simply just a way of taking the clone that is needed to provide their vital organs to their host. L6E and J2D decide to escape from their environment to venture into the unknown, and thus our movie is off and running. Sounds pretty complex for a Michael Bay film doesn't it?
Well, after the two clones are on the run the movie basically turns into one extended action scene after the next - keep an eye out for the fantastic sequence in which train wheels are dumped off a back of a truck by the clones to thwart a persuit by the agents persuing them. Eventually the clones decide to seek out their hosts, in the hopes of alerting the public to the injustice of the cloning industry.
(End minor spoilers)
I love the fact that this film makes an almost seemless transition from sci-fi film to action film back and forth. The film slowed down when it needed to and got loud and noisy in the appropriate places. All in all, I felt that the film was the most exciting and entertaining sci-fi film since the original "Matrix." I would highly recommend this to fans of sci-fi films and action pics. In a summer of completely disappointing films - aside from the glorious return of Batman - this film is truly a refreshing surprise. Big explosions, car chases, attractive leading stars and some distant semblance of a plot help to make this film more than the average Michael Bay film."
Two Ewans are better than one
Melissa Niksic | Chicago, IL United States | 07/23/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The big thing about "The Island" is...there is no island. It's just a ploy to lure unsuspecting clones to their deaths. The year is 2014 and a corporation has developed a method to produce human clones. The clones have been led to believe that the Earth has been contaminated, which is why they're all being quarantined indoors. Every so often the facility has a lottery drawing, and one lucky winner is offered the chance to go to "the island," which is supposedly the one place on the planet that hasn't been destroyed.
One of the clones, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) finally discovers the truth when his friend Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson) is chosen as a lucky lottery winner...in order to protect her from being killed, he convinces her to break out of the facility and find out the truth behind their existence. A man who Lincoln befriended at the facility (Steve Buschemi) informs the clones that they are only several years old and have been implanted with the memories of their "owners"...filthy rich people who paid a fee of $5 million apiece to have clones provided as "insurance policies."
Unfamiliar with their new surroundings, Lincoln and Jordan set off to find their owners and enlist their help in bringing down the cloning facility. They manage to avoid being captured killed by the facility cronies, the FBI, and the LAPD, and Lincoln finally comes face to face with his owner, Tom Lincoln (also played by Ewan McGregor). Unfortunately for Lincoln, his owner isn't thrilled about the fact that his insurance policy just wandered into his living room, and Lincoln and Jordan have to take it upon themselves to try and stop the mastermind of the cloning facility (Sean Bean) from killing more innocent "copies."
"The Island" is both a great action/sci-fi movie and a very emotional story about two people who are forced to examine the purpose and validity of their own existence. McGregor and Johannson deliver superb performances and have great onscreen chemistry. I also enjoyed the chemistry that McGregor has with...himself! The scenes between Lincoln and Tom were very enjoyable. (It would have been nice to see Jordan's character encounter her owner in person, but the movie is over 2.5 hours long, so there really wasn't any room for extra footage.) The cinematography is also very impressive: in typical Michael Bay style, many of the scenes flash by in extremely fast sequences, which is unique and really sets the film apart from other action movies.
In an age where cloning is a very hot topic, "The Island" definitely raises some interesting questions. There are a few cheesy moments in the film (such as when Sean Bean borrows a line from Cliff Huxtable in "The Cosby Show"...that was so lame!), and the first 40 minutes of the movie drag a bit. Things pick up quickly when Lincoln and Jordan finally manage to escape the cloning facility: from then on it's nothing but non-stop action and adventure.
Overall, "The Island" is a very interesting sci-fi thriller, and those are pretty hard to come by these days. Fans of McGregor and Johansson will be treated to great performances by two very fine actors, and the plot will give you plenty to talk about when you go out for drinks after the film. :)"
Action packed movie about profound human life issues
LuvMovies | Colorado | 10/19/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I agree this movie didn't receive the promotion and good reviews it deserved and I think I know why. Hollywood loves an action film and Michael Bay certainly delivered the action. Almost mind-numbingly so. But between the scenes of mayhem, the movie quietly addressed some profound issues about human life. Slavery, abortion, eugenics, stem cell and other human genetic research, the Holocaust, almost any subject that deals with the questions of when is something (or someone) alive? when is it considered human? when does it deserve to continue? and, most importantly, who gets to decide? The ending was decidedly, for lack of a better term, PRO-life. By that I mean it came out on the side of "when in doubt, err on the side of life." (And I enjoyed the "Lincoln freeing the slaves" metaphor of the ending.)
Hollywood may love action and mayhem but its postmodernist worldview is definitely NOT pro-life. To sacrifice the weak and helpless so that the strong can live longer or better or without complications is something that has become accepted without thought and Hollywood bears some responsibility for this. Movies and television are the primary medium for storytelling for our time. It is able to shape and pass on worldviews the way storytelling has for millenia. Perhaps even more powerfully because of the technology, music and popularity of the stars. Because of this, I think movies that ask questions and at least attempt give both sides of an argument, which The Island did reasonably well, can help us to think long and hard about what we are doing, what we believe and why we believe it.
Hollywood usually only gives one side or so stacks the deck in favor of one side as to make it inevitable that we will accept the worldview they want to promote. I happened to see The Island the same week I rented Million Dollar Baby. MDB stacks the deck so powerfully in favor of the one side that it manipulates the viewer emotionally into accepting one character killing another character as a good thing. Even though I recognized what the filmmakers were doing, my emotions were still effected. Seeing the two movies within days of each other was quite a contrast.
Hollywood will still make movies from the postmodernist worldview, and I'll even enjoy many of them. But it's refreshing to have movies that present the other side of the issues in an entertaining and respectful manner. I hope that we will see more movies with the worldview of The Island and that those of us who share that worldview will make a point to go out and see them."