Movies/Entertainment,  Off the Shelf

Off the Shelf…’The Island’

From the successful multi-blog event headed up by Fandango Groovers, I have found that one of the participants has a similar quasi-fondness for this film. That said, I figured this was the perfect inspiration to take yet another look at the film and re-evaluate it. Now everyone knows that Michael Bay has been accused of over-the-top action and effects. Further, his films are replete with some stupid dialog/sequences and hot actresses but he just keeps making them. But above all, they’re popcorn films and I actually enjoy a handful of them. To me, no other film on his resume screams “over-the-top” than his futuristic flick The Island (yes even more so than Transformers).

This movie seems like Bay took Logan’s Run, THX 1138, The Matrix, threw them in a blender and created The Island. In this film’s defense, I don’t think this was a bad movie at all. It has a really great premise, it is visually gorgeous and the cast was as diverse as they were talented.  However, it probably wasn’t the best choice to give Ewan McGregor a lead role, especially when he was paired with the sort of unknown Scarlett Johansson. I actually like The Island a lot, but Bay went action overload and the movie went on a bit long in parts so I believe that’s what lost most people, me included.

Now part of me wants to love this movie and the other part of me gets put off by the mounting unbelievability in the action department.  Basically I’m split. I have seen this movie tons of times and here’s what happens: its starts good, gets better (music by Steve Jablonsky was absolutely top-notch) and then there’s this middle ground that I just want to fast forward to get through the bloated action parts – namely the entire city chase scene. From the street “foot” chase to the highway obstacle “axle drop” (an obvious retread of the boat drop in Bad Boys II) to the flying Wasp vehicle, to the totally B.S. “falling corporate logo” from the 200 story skyscraper. That was like 20 minutes of painfully unnecessary B.S….but kida fun if you’ve checked your brain at the door.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you are supposed to have a level of unbelievable action in an “action” film. That’s a rule, and one which the audience accepts and then lets them enjoy the film afterward. Also, that’s what makes these films exciting. It’s because this stuff doesn’t happen in real life, and you are watching a larger than life action star go through it all. But there’s this level of over-saturation that just makes the audience (well me anyway) sick.

The movie was cool enough on it’s own. The sets, the costumes, the lighting, the script (most of it) and finally the idea of the film all work fine. Bay just needs to learn pacing and action control. Bad Boys II was action packed but it was just the right amount. I think he tried for more action in the middle of The Island since he started slow (which he discusses on the Commentary) to get the characters established first. Looking at the progression from Bad Boys II to The Island to Transformers, I think he has tested how much and how often explosions work in a film and what the audience will tolerate. He’s got the formula right, I think. Tranformers was great and the over-the-top action was controlled and dispersed only when necessary. He’s always had style, and he certainly established himself with his own brand of it, and has also created his trademark set lighting.

So while I don’t hate it, I don’t truly love it either, but there’s something about it all that I just can’t explain. Kind of like a moth to a flame scenario best describe my take on The Island. God, this movie is so damned gorgeous. It’s like hypnosis that makes me forgive the faults in the dialog and the ludicrous action scenes…oh and let’s not forget the blatant product placement (that’s another Michal Bay trademark). All in all, I’ll probably re-buy it on Blu Ray (it it’s ever released) as it will no doubt be even more visually jaw dropping…but I’ll buy that one used of course:)

G-S-T Ruling : 3/5

G-S-T Seal of Approval: PENDING