Michael Bay‘s best film without a doubt is The Island. For every crappy Transformers film he directs I remember The Island. By remembering it, hope is restored. Hope that someday he can make a film that was as good as The Island. Is it a perfect film? No, not at all, but it’s a good one. It has the signature big budget set pieces that Bay is known for, but it’s mixed with an actual story that has engaging characters, ones that you enjoy following and ones that aren’t robots.
What’s even better about The Island is the fact that they actually focus on the story for the bulk of the film. With a running time of 2 hours and 16 minutes, The Island actually spends the first hour building up the story. It gives you a look at the world Bay plans on destroying and it’s very refreshing. Sadly though, The Island wasn’t the box office hit that Bay or Paramount Studios was hoping for, so they decided to move on and make Transformers. People ask why Bay doesn’t try and add a story to his explosion fests and The Island‘s lackluster box office is your answer. No one supported him when he released something good, so he went on to make shit and now his shit is grossing over half a billion dollars in a matter of weeks. Go figure.
The Island centers on Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson). They are both clones that have been created for the sole purpose of harvesting organs. When their sponsors (the people who paid for them to be made) get injured or sick, they simply call up Merrick Institute, ran by Dr. Bernard Merrick (Sean Bean) and have their clones butchered. Now, in order for the clones not to become frightened over their existence, the Merrick Institute has brainwashed them into thinking that they are survivors from a global contamination. While waiting to be butchered in an underground military bunker they are forced into slave labor and stripped of any authority. These clones are trained up to a teenage level without any knowledge of complicated things like sex or the outside world. They’re sitting ducks, waiting to be killed. But they are given one glimpse of hope in the form of a lottery. If you win said lottery you get to go to the island, which is the last uncontaminated place in the world, but in reality if you win the island that means your number is up and they need some of your wonderful body parts!
So the film plays out fairly simple. Lincoln Six Echo starts questioning his purpose and eventually realizes the truth and breaks out with Jordan Two Delta. They are on the run from Merrick and his guns for hire, while Dr. Merrick himself is looking back at his “products” and wondering what went horribly wrong. It isn’t a Bay film unless you have some explosions, so of course our two leading characters get into all sorts of trouble, like causing a helicopter to take down half a building or an epic freeway chase scene that was actually reused in some parts of Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
While The Island is Michael Bay‘s best film to date, that isn’t to say it’s without problems. Like most of his movies, the action drives the movie and sometimes the story takes a back seat. Things happen in The Island for no reason, other than the purpose of creating a giant action sequence. Sometimes it is a little disconnecting when you’re trying to focus on the story and all of a sudden half the city is in flames, but it works for the most part and Michael Bay keeps it to a minimum. (By minimum I mean only half the film is action, compared to the usual 3/4th’s)
I’ve always been a huge sci-fi fan and stories dealing with cloning and such are always very interesting to me. I like the way this film handles the topic of cloning and I actually think this is probably as real as it’s going to get when it comes to real life cloning. If such a thing does ever exist it will probably be in the hands of some rich guy that does it all under the table. People are greedy and obsessed with immortality. Paying a small price to live an extra 60 to 70 years is very doable for some rich CEO’s.
The acting is good for the most part. McGregor and Johansson seem to have some real on screen chemistry, which is good, since most of the film revolves around those two escaping random goons. Bean plays the greasy slime ball head honcho really well and Steve Buscemi is really good in his brief scenes.
Yes, The Island is a big Hollywood science fiction film that cares a little more about the special effects than the story and characters, but it’s the most balanced Michael Bay film I have ever seen and the most interesting. Bay tackles the sci-fi genre by mixing cloning and his eye for carnage and it works for the most part. Sure, there are a few moments of shitty dialogue and questionable motives as to why the characters keep getting into these huge disaster pile ups and there really isn’t that many answers besides Bay wanting to create another film filled with sparks and wreckage, but there still is a story at the core of The Island and it’s a story that is interesting and something I really enjoyed.
The Island gives me hope in Michael Bay. Maybe someday he can return to this form and create another good movie that doesn’t focus only on the special effects!
Video: Paramount Pictures has given The Island an excellent 1080p transfer. The image is very detailed and crisp, with very lots of detail on facial features like skin pores and texture. The colors range from dark grays to bright oranges with lots of the opening scenes shining with the white outfits and high tech look. A subtle layer of grain can be seen, which helps add even more fine detail.
Audio: The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is very loud and active. Bay is known for having tons of action in his films and luckily the audio helps the action shine even more. Helicopter blades buzz across the back speakers while the score plays across the front. Dialogue is clear and lots of ambient noises are heard from all speakers, whether it is debris from buildings and cars exploding or the shattering glass from a broken window. Everything is very loud, active and clear.
The Island features a small bundle of special features, which are listed below:
Audio Commentary: Director Michael Bay talks about how he went about making the film, from set pieces to action sequences. It’s nothing special, but kind of interesting to hear that Bay actually plans his movies.
The Future in Action (SD): Focuses heavily on the action sequences of the film and Bay’s work with the scenes.
The Making of The Island (SD): Behind the scenes footage with the cast and crew and your typical look at how they made the movie, as far as themes and action goes.
Pre-Visualization (SD): A look at computer visualized storyboards and how important they were when it came to making the film.
Overall, The Island is a great blend of fun action and an interesting story. It shows that Michael Bay can handle an actual script with good actors and that even though his action sequences are amazing, they are even better when there is meaning behind them. The whole idea of cloning is a great concept for film and The Island tackles it really well. It does go off course a few moments to help increase the action, but it still has maintains some sort of meaning. It’s not the perfect film by any means, but it’s definitely an enjoyable one. Paramount has provided a very strong video transfer along with a really active audio transfer that really captures all of the little details throughout the film. The special features aren’t lengthy, but they provide a good enough look at how they went about making the film! Worth a purchase for any fans and a strong rental for anyone that loves big Hollywood styled action mixed with a neat little sci-fi story.
Movie – 8/10
Video – 8/10
Audio – 9/10
Special Features – 6/10
Click Here to buy The Island from Amazon.com