Mr. Michael Bay and I have a pretty lopsided relationship. One minute, I want to embrace the man tenderly and whisper in his ear, “Well done, sir, well done,” when he makes movies like Bad Boys and The Rock. And the next, I hope he gets run over by Optimus Prime when he makes movies like Pearl Harbor and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. With The Island, I’m kind of on the fence with how I feel about the man. But I’m probably more on the side of him getting hit by a Mack truck than whispering sweet nothings into his ear. It really does teeter more on the crappier side, it does.
The Island is awesome…in theory. And you know you’re in trouble when you’re talking about theory in a Michael Bay movie. The problem is this -- Michael Bay shouldn’t have made this film in the first place. It should have been handled by someone with more finesse at meshing deeper issues with action. Like Darren Aronofsky. Or Matthew Vaughn. But not Michael Bay. Michael Bay is good at making things go “kaboom!” or, if you’re lucky, “kablammo!” But not in making you think, which The Island does, but not in a positive way. It’s more in a “This topic is much deeper than the film itself” kind of way, and that’s a shame, since the story had so much potential. It really could have been something great if it was handled by someone more skilled.
The story deals with clones. And while you might think that’s a spoiler if you’ve never seen the movie before, please don’t. It says it right on the back of the box. “…But when they discover they’re actually clones…” Way to go, back of the box. Anyway, now that that’s out the bag, these clones, played by Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, escape from a sterile compound. It was there that their bodies were meant to be harvested to prolong the lives of rich people who paid good money for them. Again, it’s a really cool concept, but the execution is poor as all get out. And the main problem is Bay. He sets up a really interesting story but then dilutes it with needless car chases involving dumbbells falling out of the back of a vehicle, and hover cycles, even though this is supposed to be 2019. Apparently, clones will be fully functional in a little more than a decade (I’m counting on 2005 time, when this film was released), and motorcycles can fly. Dude, you totally broke the Back to the Future 2 rule. You made a film that’s supposed to be super futuristic but set it within our lifetimes. Why?
What also sucks about the film is all the wasted talent in here. Michael Clarke Duncan, Djimon Hounsou, Steve f’n Buscemi? Talent across the board, and you stick them with flaccid roles that anybody could fill? Again, Mr. Bay, why? It seems like a waste hiring such talented people for a movie that ultimately fails as both an action film (it’s too slow) and as a thought-provoking sci-fi flick (there’s too much excessive action involved). All-star casts have rarely been so misused. It really is a shame.
But that’s not to say that the film is a total wash. There is potential here in The Island, especially in the ideas that are floating around in it. The concept of the Island itself being a supposed Shangri-La of for the clones, only to turn out to be a killing floor, is fascinating. And the movie actually does shine in the action sequences, as the chases are enthralling. But when put together, the movie as a whole is a confused mess and it needs to be put to sleep. Michael Bay, stick with talking robots that can turn into automobiles, please. It suits you. And leave the real sci-fi to the pros. Thanks, Mr. Bay. You’re the best.
Just once, I wish a director would have the balls like Joel Schumacher to apologize for his movie on the DVD commentary. And while The Island is nowhere NEAR Batman and Robin suckitude, I still wish Michael Bay apologized for ruining an awesome story. But no, all we get instead is a commentary full of empty air, as Bay goes on and on about the making of the film, with him livening up just a teensy bit when talking about the action. Otherwise, it’s worthless. Even a fan of the film might not find much to take out of it (other than his one admittance that the marketing for the film could have been better, which it could have).
Also on the disc is “The Future in Action,” which shows the exciting car-chase scene. And, well, that’s pretty much it. “The Making of The Island,” features some scenes from “The Future in Action” featurette, and, well, it’s boring. Ewan McGregor puts me to sleep. Finally, there’s “Pre-visualization: Forward Thinking,” which talks about they had to do to make the movie seem futuristic, but not too futuristic, being that the movie takes place in 2019, after all. Overall, the special features suck, and the only reason that I’m not giving it one star is because fans of the film might like them, but not enough to swoon over. This Blu-ray feels very bare bones. Pass.