Film Reviews


By • Jul 22nd, 2005 •

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DreamWorks and Warner Bros. Pictures present a Parkes/MacDonald production
MPAA rating PG-13 / Running Time: 133 minutes.


THE ISLAND fits perfectly into Hollywood’s ideal audience demographics. So if you’re a tweenage male weaned on video games, do I have a film for you! It’s a gazillion-dollar (con)fusion of some of the best Sci-Fi thrillers of the past: SOYLENT GREEN (1973), LOGAN’S RUN (1976), COMA, THE BOYS FROM BRAZIL(both1978) and more recently, THE TRUMAN SHOW (1998), to name a few.

Yet in the years since, Hollywood, in its infinite wisdom, hasn’t learned much except to have drama and character development play second fiddle to special effects and production design.

Admittedly, they ARE spectacular. In fact, they’re mind-boggling. It’s just too bad the plot, basically a most interesting one (more about this later)—tends to get lost in the morass of unrelenting noise and non-stop action.

From Michael Bay, the director of such similar fare as ARMAGEDDON and PEARL HARBOR, those cacophonous sequences, filled with frenzied car, truck and coptor chases, fill up the over 2 hours of running time with a sensory overload that, after a very short while, becomes almost senseless

PLOT: The year: 2019. After a global ecological catastrophe,
the earth’s sole survivors, inmates temporarily caged in a sealed-off sterile research facility, wait for a weekly lottery, with the winner to be sent to that paradise…

…to The Island, the one place left contamination-free in the whole civilized world.

Problem: Ain’t so. (No spoilers here. It’s featured in all the previews. Besides, you’ll figure it out very early on.) There’s no island, no environmental contagion and the inmates aren’t even human. But they don’t know it.

They’re “products”— clones of real, very VERY rich people, specially harvested for replacement body parts in case their sponsors need, for example, a new liver or heart transplant. The cost: figure $5 million per. But what the hell, money isn’t everything, especially if it can guarantee the nabobs maybe another 50 or so healthy years.

The mixed bag of inmates are kept at a naïve 15-year age level, with contact between the sexes prohibited. (In fact, they don’t even know what “sex” is.) And with only a vague memory of their past lives, are happily kept in tow doing meaningless work by Big Brother overseers, who monitor their every movement.

Then the unexpected: Lincoln Six-Echo (McGregor) starts remembering things about his past (a no-no), starts asking questions (not allowed either), and uncovers the devastating truth about his confinement when one of his friends, a lottery winner, ends up on a slab.

So, with his beauteous buddy Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), they escape to the outside world (somewhere in the desolate flats of Arizona). That finishes the film’s first half.

The next hour concerns their frenetic adventures evading their captors, and fleeing to LA to find their human sponsors (also played by McGregor and Johansson).

The Good News: As action heroes, the stars shine, though they emote from a limited range-due to the script’s limitations. They’re sweet and innocent and believable and you’ll be rooting for their safety.

Steve Buscemi is fun as always (and he has the best lines!), as an employee at the facility, who helps them in the outside world. Sean Bean, the project’s villainous corporate head, is mean (as always) as a combination Dr. Frankenstein and Mengele, who extols the medical benefits of the work even though he’s only in it for the money. This aspect, with current political ramifications about the negatives of cloning (i.e. stem cell research and reproduction) will surely please conservative hard-liners.

Bottom Line: Bring your earplugs, or better still, rent the videos of the previously-cited films.

Lincoln Six Echo/Tom Lincoln: Ewan McGregor
Jordan Two Delta/Sarah Jordan: Scarlett Johansson
Albert Laurent: Djimon Hounsou
Dr. Merrick: Sean Bean
McCord: Steve Buscemi
Starkweather: Michael Clarke Duncan

Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci
Story by: Caspian Tredwell-Owen
Producers: Walter Parkes, Michael Bay, Ian Bryce
Executive producer: Laurie MacDonald
Director of photography: Mauro Fiore
Production designer: Nigel Phelps
Music: Steve Jablonsky
Costumes: Deborah L. Scott
Editors: Paul Rubell, Christian Wagner

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