I loved it. I’m sorry, I did. I saw it last night and I want to see it again. It’s everything THX1138 should have been, and quite a bit of what Michael Bay films tend not to be; in other words, interesting and engaging. It’s like a regular sci-fi thriller with some Michael Bay guest appearances to liven things up. I had a ball in Armageddon; I whooped it up during 2/3 of Pearl Harbor (you know which ones). Maybe it’s the absence of Jerry Bruckheimer, but whatever it is, I hope he keeps it up. Bay is a master of action sequences but he has never been altogether concerned about creating an interesting or plausible backdrop for his two dimensional characters. Of course, in mid-July, that’s not why we’re lined up with our dollars in hand. We want it loud and fast. Bay delivers on that, but before he does, he gives us an interesting, intricate world populated by people who we can actually empathize with. So I am giving it Full Price Feature because you are getting your money’s worth. It won’t win anything at Cannes but by golly, it’s a load of fun.
Yes, I hear what I am saying, you think I don’t know? Other critics (I was told against my will) are giving this movie a hard time. I am here to defend it. A little bit Coma, a lot THX 1138, a wee smidge of The Truman Show and Blue Lagoon, and a dash of the first Matrix and the Fifth Element, plus incredibly beautiful costars Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Drop in Steve Buscemi as, well, Steve Buscemi, and Sean Bean as a delectably elegant baddie, and you’ve got a stew going. What’s great about The Island is the framework for McGregor’s and Johansson’s characters actually makes it better for their personalities to be underdeveloped – when you see it you will understand why.
Story writer Caspian Tredwell-Owen and screenwriters Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci (Alias) succeed where previous Bay writers have failed: they create a reason for the trademark Bay scenes of loud, fast, exciting action. Not everything is completely puncture-proof, but it never drags (Pearl Harbor) and it never makes your eyes roll (Armageddon) and, best of all, it doesn’t have Ben Affleck in it. Having real actors and a real story really brings out the best in this director, and the result is a huge amount of fun. The woman sitting next to me was equally enthralled by what I refer to as the heart-stopping, pants-pooping excitement. My intelligent companion, upon reflection, mused, “I just got outsmarted by a Michael Bay movie.”
It’s pretty, thanks to cinematographer Mauro Fiore (Training Day), and its production design by Nigel Phelps (crap films but fantastic design), but most of all, it’s fun and in between the fun it has a story that keeps you engaged. For what more can you ask?
MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 7/22/05
Time in minutes 127
Director Michael Bay
Studio Dreamworks and Warner Brothers