Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Island


The big Michael Bay summer blockbuster (although no Jerry Bruckheimer this time) follows the exact same direction style as Bad Boys 2, Armageddon, The Rock and all those other leave-the-brain-at-home movies he churns out. If you like the camera to slowly pan around the hero at waist-height in slow-motion capturing a little bit of lens flare then you're not going to be disappointed; there is plenty of it in this.

Ewan McGregor plays Bravo-Two-Zero or something equally banal, a person living in a wonderful enclosure where they wear white puma clothing, play xbox and interact with other branded products. He falls for Breaker-20-20 played by big lipped Scarlet Johannson but they can't get close because the rules of the enclosure say so. Everyone there dreams of winning a trip to The Island, a dream destination that is offered as a prize in a lottery where you don't even have to by a ticket. The compound is run by Sean Bean, the only guy in Hollywood with the ability to change one letter in his first name to get his surname. Hopefully his sister Jean and brother Dean don't aspire to join the acting profession as that would spoil this.

It turns out that they're not real people but clones that have been paid for by their sponsor and the trip to the island actually means their body parts are needed in the real world. I can spoil this for you now because some stupid executive decided to do the same thing in the movie trailer. If this film had a twist it doesn't now.

The two eventually escape into the real world and are chased by that black guy from Gladiator, and this is when the film picks up.

We have the obligatory car chase along the freeway. This time Bay tops the Bad Boys 2 chase by replacing the shedded cars with train axles. When the first vehicle goes up you can quite clearly see the metal log used to launch the vehicle up into the air. I guess they thought we'd think it was still an axle even though it was shaped different to all the others. A couple of speeder bikes are added to the mix (this is set in the future) but they reminded me too much of the bikes in Return of the Jedi, even down to the sound they made.

The chases on foot seem to be shot through lots of areas where spark-welding is taking place, purely for aesthetic effect I guess but stupid all the same. I did however feel sorry for the stunt man who agreed to slide on ball-bearings into a metal pipe, that looked like it hurt.

The obligatory falling from a height scene sees them hanging from a giant letter R that is blasted from the top of a skyscraper. It seems odd that a company would go to the trouble of having the letter R as a logo, I wonder if they were allowed to copyright it, and it was convenient the letter had a hole they could stand in. If they'd been stuck on the I corporation's skyscraper they'd have been stuffed.

The ending sees Miss Scarlet and Colonel Mustard going back into the compound to rescue all the other clones. Along the way he gets into a fight with Mr Bean but we know he can fight even though he looks weedy due to the xbox scene earlier in the film (do you see how this works now?)

When the woman gets to do some solo stuff she has to be backed up by the Gladiator guy who changes sides just when she had scenes where she wasn't just following Ewan around. Girl Power! At least in Stealth the woman got some of the action to participate in on her own.

If you've seen the trailer you'll have seen the clip of all the clones leaving the compound into a desert. Yep, they even revealed the final scene of the film too. Dumbasses.

This suffers from the same problem as Stealth in that it doesn't really have any big names carrying the film. Ewan does OK but he's probably been picked because he can work with bad scripts and even worse directors although I can't say how much blue screen he had to work with but it wouldn't be as bad as Star Wars. Maybe some exec picked him because he's the only good actor with a Scottish accent and the audience might confuse him with Sean Canary (I mean Connery). In all honesty I think it's because Nicholas Cage, Bruce Willis and Will Smith were busy elsewhere. Johannson was great in Lost in Translation but she's not ideal for action movies, she's just too demure and pretty. I reckon the reason they picked her was solely for the weak Calvin Klein commerical gag they included in the film. At the end of the day all they needed was a woman who could run behind the male lead. There's even one continuity mistake where Ewan sends her ahead then in the next cut he's back in front.

In summary; tosh but big budget tosh that kills a couple of hours.
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