The Island


Michael Bay tries hard in The Island to create something other than the dross he has always served up before, but succeeds only in making himself look foolish, and me hate this film even more than Pearl Harbour.

That’s right. The only good thing about Pearl Harbour is that it inspired the Trey Parker/Matt Stone combination to write ‘Pearl Harbour Sucked’ – one of the few highlights of Team America: World Police – and yet somehow he has outdone himself.

I miss you more then Michael Bay missed the mark,
When he made Pearl Harbour,
I miss you more than that movie missed the point,
And that’s an awful lot, girl

– Classic, and completely true of The Island as well. Bay just misses the point, to the point he had me wishing physical pain on the ham-fisted director.

The IslandThe Island starts well, although I suspect the strength of the first thirty or so minutes actually lies in the set-up, and this was something Bay couldn’t mess up. After the briefest hint that he might be more subtle than a five year old child, he manages to mess it up completely, turning what may have been a thoughtful, albeit derivative, piece of sci-fi, into a mindless action romp with some of the most absurd set pieces in recent times. The fact that he makes it last over two hours is the final insult.

This is yet another example of the trailer being so full of the plot points, that one needn’t watch the film – much like the recent Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Why the PR guys continue to take the steam out of what could be enjoyable films is completely beyond me. There is so much of crucial importance spoiled by the trailer in this case, it almost entirely ruined the story. I forced myself to try to watch without thinking of the trailer, and found that the quiet and intriguing first act may well have been very enjoyable had I not been aware of what was coming. I am so offended by this abuse of the film-maker’s craft, that I have parted with tradition and deliberately not included a link to the trailer in our standard links above. If you want to ruin this film, go find it yourself, I’m not playing any part in it.

After the promise of the first stanza, the remainder of this film is ridiculous action, mixed with terrible editing and shot selection, such that when there may actually be something exciting happening on screen, no-one can really tell. The absurd first chase sequence happened entirely in audio only for me I’m afraid, and when five minutes of screen time is devoted to a purely aural experience, it becomes something of a chore. The action, ridiculous at first, becomes progressively more ludicrous, and even my well-developed ability to suspend disbelief was unable to cope with Johansson and McGregor’s survival of a fall from seventy storeys. There are a few CGI ‘ooh, look at the technology of the future’ moments, but they are far outweighed by the utter rubbish surrounding them.

The two stars are adequate, although what either of them thought they were doing appearing in this is beyond me. Johansson, of Lost in Translation, Girl with a Pearl Earring and Ghost World, she of the new wave of quality cinema, performing in this? (Although, she was in Eight Legged Freaks, so perhaps this isn’t her first bad decision).

The abysmal decisions made by director and producers, coupled with the abuse of the trailer and the absurdity of much of the action, leaves this film with very little to recommend it. Avoid at all costs.

Rating: 1.0 stars
Review by Mark Lavercombe, 28th July 2005
Hoopla Factor: 0.5 stars


Okay, so I’m not going to reiterate at length what Mark has already covered. Yes, The Island is basically a two hour version of The Island trailer that we’ve all been subjected to multiple times. There is nothing here to surprise. The marketing dudes were fools, and even if the studio/director/producer insisted the trailer be made that way, then they should have honourably committed hara-kiri rather than subject to their demands and turn the film into a waste of everyone’s time.

The IslandThe film itself was mildly entertaining, more so once you got used to the Michael Bay Laws of Physics™ that were being enacted during the action scenes. But any critical analysis of the film only leaves the viewer disappointed. This is very cheap and predictable science fiction, inconsistent to say the least. Say what you will about Minority Report, at least it had a fully realised futuristic setting. Here we have a world that looks pretty much the same as ours but with the occasional extremely high-tech vehicle. This film will definitely leave any true sci-fi buff wanting much, much more. More importantly there is a list of plot holes more than a mile long, and not even worth listing here.

The editing didn’t bother me that much, proving once again that Mark is an old fogey. It isn’t so much that we miss seeing fantastic action, more that the irrelevant close ups and shaky hand-held camera merely takes the place of a well choreographed sequence – simply an exercise in cutting corners. That being said, I often laughed with glee at the ridiculousness of some of the major stunt sequences, even if I wasn’t actually excited.

The Island is an okay time waster, and certainly has a couple of good looking leads, but could somebody please explain why it’s always sunset in Michael Bay films?

Rating: 1.5 stars
Review by Stuart Wilson, 1st August 2005
Hoopla Factor: 3.0 stars

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