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A movie directed by Michael Bay

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A turkey or a copy of a turkey

  • Jan 21, 2006
Pros: Explosions, Steve Buscemi


The Bottom Line: Just don't waste the time, money, or effort at loading the DVD player; spend those few calories scratching.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

Let’s see.

1 cup THX 1138
1 cup The Matrix semi-clarified (skim it but do not remove all confusion)
½ cup The Running Man
2 cups Gattaca
Dash of Metropolis
Hint of Soilent Green
Fellini’s Satyricon for set destruction
4 lbs of shameless product promotion
Set aside 4 ounces of hard liquor of 6 beers. Drink before viewing as your sense of disbelief is going to need some help being turned off.

Put it in a blender, then take the mixture and put it in a juicer. Let it ferment and you get The Island.

I rarely use the word turkey to describe a movie. Only a special set of films get that designation. Big budget films that contain all of the standard action clichés but nothing original or thought provoking—this movie did provoke thoughts (more on that in a second), but the film chose to ignore it. Further, a turkey is made more by committee than not, has a hunky guy and a big breasted chick so it can be considered a type of date movie for the 20 somethings and under—also, there must be reference to bodily functions for the mook factor. In brief, a turkey is a big budget adventure flick intended to appeal to the lowest common denominator.

The quick plot summary—and it will fit on the back of a napkin—is that a company makes clones. These clones believe themselves to be survivors of a worldwide contamination. They lead boring, controlled lives. Their hope is to go to the last place on the planet that is contaminate free, The Island. Upon going into labor, all women get to go to the island. The rest are chosen by a lottery. One clone becomes self aware, escapes, causes a mess of problems, returns as a type of epigone messiah, everything blows up. Big kiss at the end.

Typically I avoid action flicks because I consider them a waste of time—the overwhelming majority of them are just glorified porn (crap dialog in between fight/chase scenes replacing idiotic dialog between sex scenes). However, I like Ewan McGregor and Steve Buscemi very much, and I have to admit being a complete sucker for big explosions and dynamic car chases, so I watched this one.

There were two car chases in this one. You might think, wow, one covers the cost of seeing it, the second is gravy. Well, you can see it that way if you like, but the way I interpret it is one was filmed by cameramen who were hopped up on caffeine and cocaine (and who have to pee and are doing the pee-pee dance, but aren’t allowed to stop filming), the camera jumps and wiggles and generally makes SEEING anything impossible. The second car chase is a copy of the first, but shorter.

The biggest problem I had with the first car chase is that a huge truck is carrying train axles and seems to be driven by a man who has consumed the alcohol mentioned in the recipe so that HIS disbelief is also suspended sufficiently. The fact that the driver has to be oblivious is an action movie requirement, so I suppose that is somewhat forgivable. But train axles? This is a future where ‘sub’ ways are ‘super’ ways in that they move around above the ground. The notion that something as 18th century as trains would still be in operation is just idiotic. One would think that they would help with the chase though because of the chaos they would create on a Los Angeles freeway. They do. But the director decided to have the camera work act as a metaphor for chaos and jerk and swerve in nauseating and incomprehensible ways.

The explosions are pretty nice though.

Finally, however, is the end. The end blows a fetid wind past a sewage treatment plant, and for 2 reasons.

The shortest reason to explain is the idiotic big Hollywood kiss. If there is a worse cliché, I’d rather be kept ignorant of it.

The worst reason of all is that all of the clones are set free—including, as luck would have it, the clone for the president. When I saw this happen I was reminded of a stunt pulled by some well-meaning animal rights activists in Britain who set free a couple of thousand caged minks. If the story stopped there, most of us would give a large huzzah. But the story didn’t stop there. These mink had been raised in captivity and more than half of them were killed in a very short amount of time by being run over or eaten by predators, or killing each other. It was a stunt laced with the largest doses of good intention but not at all thought out.

The analog to this is a desert hillside full of boringly dressed clones. Suddenly a group of ‘people’ is introduced into a society they never knew existed and their doppelgangers exist in this world already. What in the hell is going to happen to them? Huzzah, they are free. I guess what the movie failed to show after the big Hollywood kiss is that most of them were run over, bitten by poisonous snakes, starved to death, got heat stroke or whatever. But that would spoil the cliché fun.

There are some half-hearted attempts to go into the ethical and philosophical conundrum that cloning causes (which is only slightly less complicated than the conundrum caused by messing with time). But these are glossed over quickly for a sound byte before the next sex—I mean chase--scene to happen. There are also some funny moments when the cloned McGregor and Johansson are interacting in the real world, but they are also predictable and get old fast.

The only good thing about this turkey is Steve Buscemi. He seems to enjoy playing any part at all. I have totally despised some of the films in which he was cast, but I have always liked his performance (even if it could sometimes be super annoying like his character in Fargo.


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: None of the Above
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More The Island reviews
review by . October 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
      THE ISLAND      I don't know but I kinda like Michael Bay, at least the man knows how to deliver on the action even though he is not known for great story telling. But I think he is a pretty good director and he hires Steve Buscemi [probably my favorite actor] a lot so at least he can recognize talented actors. But regardless of the over all assumption that he can't really tell a story I would say to those people to check out this flick right …
review by . January 21, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Running for Their Lives
  WARNING: This review may contain spoilers!   2005 was a year of Box Office disappointments, a year when many good films were overlooked. One such film is The Island, an intriguing science fiction/action film that should have been a mega-hit, but wasn't. The Island was directed by Michael Bay (Bad Boys and Armageddon), a filmmaker for whom I have very little respect mainly because of his habit of emphasizing action at the expense of story and characterization. Yet this film won me over …
Quick Tip by . November 23, 2009
The 1st hour of THE ISLAND is inspired filmmaking. But once our heroes leave the Island, you'll wish they'd never left.
review by . March 21, 2009
I have seen Star Wars III, Batman Begins, War of the Worlds, and The Fantastic Four. While all those movies were excellent, The Island outshines them all. Scarlett Johansen and Euwene MacGregor are excellent as clones who have lived in an enclosed city with the promise of an ultimate trip to "The Island." This is supposed to be the ultimate reward for their service and those that get chosen to go, do so via a lottery.     MacGregor starts to get haunted by a dream where he is …
review by . June 30, 2007
One of the great untold tragedies of the 20th century was the prevalence of medical testing on unwitting subjects. Some Americans have probably heard of the Tuskegee airmen, black American servicemen who became unwitting test subjects for medical experiments. But how many people are aware of the medical testing performed on ignorant prisoners, on poor people on various Caribbean islands, or the large-scale testing of vaccines on African villagers throughout the latter half of the 20th century. The …
review by . March 06, 2007
I had the opportunity to watch this film the other day and though it was okay. I've took it as another movie that has something desperately to say along with a long line of other frustrating Hollywood thrillers. There are a number of things that is good here but the bad brings down the entire experience. The underlying problem with this movie is Michael Bay. He has missed the mark yet again. The Island starts out as an engaging, entertaining Sci-Fi film. Then, about halfway through, it gets Bayified. …
review by . March 27, 2006
I don't know what took me so long to watch this movie, well yes I do the shaky reviews and the fact that it's a longer movie ( over two hours) but I'm very glad I did! I felt like I didn't want to write a review, since so many people before me have explained it so well, yet I felt like I wanted to show my love and support for the enjoyment it brought me and everyone else who saw it with me.    I loved how the characters did things that you wanted them to do; they reasoned, they …
review by . February 18, 2006
I wonder if Michale Bay has ever heard the phrase, "more is not always better"? "The Island" is defintely a case-in-point.... More/longer chase scenes... more mini-climaxes (I thought the movie was ending 30 minutes prior to the actual ending)!     Don't get me wrong, "The Island" is not a terrible movie - it just isn't great. In fact, I knew that I had to write the review immediately or I would forget about it- it is that forgettable.    I am also a little …
review by . January 03, 2006
Pros: Good script, action and acting.     Cons: Perhaps a little too much violence.     The Bottom Line: The Island is a great movie to loose yourself in because there is not a lot of mind-strain involved, which makes the film perfect for a rainy Saturday afternoon.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot. I have a growing fascination, bordering on infatuation, with Scarlett Johansson. And no it’s …
review by . December 26, 2005
I wasn't very sure if I wanted to see "The Island" when it first came out. Sure, it looked like a really cool action yarn, but something about it was holding me back. Well, I finally got up the courage to check this film out and I have to admit that it was a rather good movie. Directed by Michael Bay, who's directed such action fare as "Armageddon" and "The Rock," the viewer is insured that there will be plenty of explosions and gunplay.    The story is rather compelling. In …
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #56
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


When you add up all the best things aboutThe Island, you might just conclude that there's hope yet for Hollywood's most critically reviled hit-maker, Michael Bay. Recruited by Steven Spielberg to direct this lavish and often breathtaking sci-fi action thriller, Bay rises to the occasion with an ambitious production that is, by his standards (and compared to Bay's earlier hits likeThe RockandArmageddon), surprisingly intelligent as it explores the repercussions of cloning in a sealed-off society where humans are cultivated for spare parts, surrogate parenthood, and full-body replacements for wealthy clientele. But when two of the clones (Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johanssen) begin to question their fate and the motives of their keepers, they escape into the real world andThe Islandbecomes just another Michael Bay action extravaganza, albeit an impressively exciting one. With elaborate chase scenes and a high-tech feast of CGI to dazzle the eye,The Islandrecycles much of the plot from 1979'sClonuswhile borrowing elements fromLogan's Run,GattacaandMinority Report, and while it's not as smartly conceived as those earlier films, there's no denying that, in many ways, it's Bay's best film to date.--Jeff Shannon
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