06/09/2005

THE ISLAND (not a paradise)





THE ISLAND





Ewan McGregor attempts to bring some of his excellent acting to this preposterous story of an inhabitant in a futuristic colony, populated by survivors from a polluted world, whose only hope of a future is winning the lottery to the paradise known as the island. He makes the mistake of thinking there is more to life, than the reality he is presented with. The sledgehammer of subtlety is brought down and very soon he is on the run in this lesser version of Logan’s run meets The Sixth Day. He finds himself involved with a legitimatized conspiracy that affects the richest sections of society.


Ewan tries his best with the material, and I don’t think he or the wonderful Scarlet Johansson as his fellow escapee can save this from the inevitable downfall into cinematic nonsense. We are at times reminded of the actors’ skills within these overblown characters, but this in spite of the script, not because of it.


The wonderful Djimon Hounsou who stole the show in “Constantine” has his skills completely usurped; with Bay more content to display his ex-model looks in moody camera shots, than get him to act. Sean Bean plays the generic “rent a posh brit villain” that could have been filmed by Rickman, Cox, or even Hopkins.


Bean is good here, but that’s all he is required to be.


Someone should know better. Cinema gets away with this type of drivel on a weekly basis if the film is cast appropriately and is visually enticing. The reason the director’s previous fodder gained success was the charisma and box office draw added by actors with gravitas, such as Sean Connery, Nicholas Cage, and John Cusack. The leads here are great actors, but this film just doesn’t fit the bill.


On the good side, I can see the point he is making with the stomach churning “NYPD blue” shaky-cam visuals. They set a stark contrast between the smooth clinical camera shots of the false world we start in, and the realism of everyday life. The camera work is certainly the star, but that’s the same as buying a bad song because of the music video.






Michael Bay is the director of big screen excess; with films such as The Rock, Bad Boys, and the atrocious Armageddon under his wing. He paints on a large canvas, with sweeping vistas, adding three explosions when one would do. This film does not disappoint if you are a fan of this unique style that sacrifices originality for a two hour thirty minute stunt fest/product nightmare. I understand he might be trying to say something about the nature of humanity or the need for survival, or just that our good and bad traits are a universal constant. We’ve heard it all before though; stated more intelligently, filmed more alluringly, and thankfully less packaged.










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