Monday, January 08, 2007

The Island (2005)

The Island (2005)

My last few posts have been bloated, so it's time to redress the balance. I don't really have much to say about The Island in any case (Warning! There be spoilers below).

Directed by Michael (The Rock, Bad Boys) Bay, The Island is a mediocre sci-fi film populated by the frenetic action sequences for which Bay is renowned. Drawing from films like THX 1138 and Logan's Run, the story is about Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), two individuals from a dystopian society who discover that they are actually clones created by a company as spare parts for rich people. They are held within an artificial environment and fed a story (to keep them docile and oblivious to reality) about how they are the last survivors of a deadly disease that wiped out most of the planet's population. Lincoln and Jordan escape and attempt to track down and confront their 'owners' - i.e. the people from whom they were cloned.

If you can swallow the basic premise - it's as outrageous as the Matrix, but they don't sell it nearly as well as in that film - this is a passable action film with a few simplistic ideas bolted on about the ethics of... I'm not sure what, since no one has ever seriously proposed cloning entire people, and the crux of this story is that these are real people and not mere body parts. I suppose it's also a critique of totalitarianism, but again it's all superficial. The Island is a essentially an action / chase movie with lots of explosions and shootouts as our heroes are pursued by a mercenary (Djimon Hounsou) at the behest of the company director (Sean Bean). The acting is fine, but the writing is sketchy. McGregor is a charismatic fellow, and Johansson is easy on the eyes (are those lips for real?). The action sequences are fairly forgettable, but as with most Bay movies, the film is well shot and looks good. One final complaint, there's quite a bit of product placement in the film that is incongruous to the point of distraction.

So basically, it's mediocre and forgettable but is entertaining enough to be inoffensive. It's not as thoughtful as THX 1138, and not as fun and whimsical as Logan's Run, and I would recommend either of those films over this. Having said that, I'm still looking forward to Michael Bay's next film - Transformers - which plays to his strengths and looks like it could be fun.

*Edited to say the post isn't much shorter than usual! Hmm, but I don't think it's too long either.


sanity index said...

"The Island" is a big ripoff of "Parts: The Clonus Horror," which I saw years before the former was made. At least the latter is entertaining in that it's very bad, but the plot was revolutionary for its time.

Boycotting another movie even though Ewan McGregor is in it. :>

Antimatter said...

McGregor seems to have had fun making this movie, even though it was obviously for the paycheck! :D

Never heard of Parts: The Clonus Horror! :)

I don't like this basic plot in principal - it makes little sense to me to tell a story about genetic engineering used to create clones for body parts. Genetic engineering to create body parts and to create clones seem to be two different topics altogether, and there's little reason for overlap. Each topic on its own is worthy of examination, but there's little reason to bring them together other than for entertainment value.

In the case of the Island, it's a plot contrivance - apparently, without consciousness the body parts themselves fail after a while, so they need to create complete clones of people!

sanity index said...

You should check it out on IMDb. Or download it from somewhere. There are a few famous people in there, too. :)

There's little reason to overlap clones and body parts, by today's standards - which is why "The Island" fails in so many respects, including ripping off - but back in the 1970s when "Clonus" came out, it's a bit more justified in mixing it altogether to try to comment on the ethics. Or something.

I'd guess that using complete clones for organs would keep the organs "fresher" and healthier for the originals!

Antimatter said...

That's a fair point, I imagine the idea was novel back in the 70s, but cloning and creation of replacement parts is mainstream news in the 00s. :)

Already checked it out on IMDB, of course! :D It's actually been released on DVD! (I'm not sure why I'm surprised, since the studios have released a LOT of bottom of the barrel stuff, and I'm not complaining!)

One thing the Island has that Clonus doesn't though - clones playing futuristic X-Box!

sanity index said...

Oh, and another thing - if you manage to get a copy of "Clonus" as it was aired on the U.S. show "Mystery Science Theatre 3000" - it would quadruple your viewing pleasure. :D Guaranteed hilarious.

Antimatter said...

Ah, heard about that! Thanks... I was wondering if it might go down easier with a little commentary... :D