Friday, December 16, 2005
The Island is a good action movie that would be fun to watch on a high-def TV screen late at night -- with a spicy snack, some salty popcorn and a drink.
Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor make attractive leads, the action sequences are terrific, and the look is creative and intriguing.
The basic premise -- human looking robots (actually cyborgs) with brains -- is a theme that will become ever more important as robots (actually cyborgs) become more and more intelligent and human-like. (Note: I've been writing a film with this premise myself.) Unfortunately, very little is done dramatically with this issue here.
The most dramatic note on this topic actually comes in the director's commentary on the DVD, when he claims someone is flying around the world in his private jet with a young man aboard whose role is to be available in case his heart is needed to be "donated" for a transplant.
The basic premise could be interesting, also, as a detective story, with Ewan trying to understand his life. Unfortunately, due to the realities of marketing, anyone who comes to see the film has seen the previews, and anyone who has seen the previews knows enough to destroy the suspense.
As a midnight B-movie, the simple story is very effective: Find out who I am; Escape; Find a good guy to help me; Get the bad guys.
As a major motion picture that's not enough. In particular, the basic character-driven story between the two major leads is "missing in action". With nothing dramatic in the script to act, the two leads are not able to do anything except run and shoot.
Except that at the end they finally kiss, for the first time in their "lives", giving rise to the best line in the movie, when Ewan says, "That tongue thing is amazing!"
From the commentary on the DVD, it is clear how much pride the director, Michael Bay, takes in the action sequences. It is also clear, by omission, how little attention was paid to creating a dramatically intense film.
The title of the movie is also a bit misleading to the audience I think. I, for one, expected kind of a romantic action movie taking place on a beautiful island, and I found it somewhat disappointing that the island has a rather different role in this movie. Were this a dramatic film instead of an action movie, "The Island" would have been a very elegant choice for the title.
It's kind of an opportunity missed: this could have been a great film. But it's still quite a good action flick.