Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Island redux

Here's another re-post from the early days of CineRobot. This review of The Island originally was posted on July 26, 2005. Any chance I can get to stick the knife into Michael Bay, I'm going to jump at it. The post was titled: Michael Bay is a talentless hack. I don't think his film after 2005 will change that--Transformers anyone? 

An interesting thing happens about an hour into director Michael Bay’s latest film The Island, he remembers that he is Michael Bay. At this point of recognition, he reverts to his usual strategies that largely involve wrecking or blowing up anything that moves. It’s a shame, as The Island could have been his best film, but it ends up being just another massive waste of time that degenerates into a 90-minute orgy of explosions.

The film starts out promising as Bay is obviously channeling George Lucas’ icy 1971 bleak science fiction film THX 1138, as the look of The Island is a virtual copy—no colors as everything is white or black, the future is a cold place with nothing but concrete, glass, steel and our society is rigidly controlled with few personal freedoms.

Ewan McGregor plays "Lincoln Six Echo," a man in this sterile future world who begins to question all around him, including a contest known as "The Lottery", that will decide who gets to go to an island paradise and escape the confines of the city. The dream of winning the lottery to get out of this place and onto the utopian island is the driving force of people’s existence.

The moment "Lincoln Six Echo" escapes the control of this world, and takes "Jordan Two Delta" [Scarlett Johansson] with him, the film becomes a kind of a Logan’s Run dosed up on massive amounts of steroids. It’s at this point to the stops being about an idea and just becomes a silly prolonged chase scene that Bay is infamous for.

Quick history lesson on Bay: he is the man who has given us crimes against cinema such as Bad Boys,  The Rock and that embarrassingly bad Pearl Harbor. To think that Bay could make a film about ideas rather than about explosions, I guess I was kidding myself. Bay just has to be himself. And showing us sweeping helicopter zooms, cheesy slow motions of explosions, cars flipping over again and again, machine-guns and rockets blowing even more stuff up is just Bay letting us see how macho he can be. Bay is as subtle as a jackhammer to the skull and it’s dull, soulless and insulting cinema to anyone who loves movies.

The true star of a Michael Bay film isn’t the actors or script—it’s the person who sets up all the various explosions or destruction that is going to ensue. That person needs a vacation after working on a movie like The Island because they will have pushed the “explode” button so much their finger will be sprained. I’m not kidding. Bay will blow or shoot anything up—cars, buildings, helicopters, more cars, train-stations, streets. Anything. It becomes exhausting at a certain point and not at all thrilling or exciting, as Bay believes it might.

The Island is just further proof that Michael Bay is a hack director. He takes an interesting idea about a utopian future world and ruins it by making it a cliché ridden exercise in excess with him just blowing things up. Any ideas that the movie tries to develop is lost by the end of the film, just one more thing Bay blows to bits.


hidden staircase said...

so sad a ewan movie i do not want to and will not watch...ah...!

Anonymous said...

Amen, brother!

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

Staircase: You would hate this movie more than I did. Evan though Ewan is running around dodging all the bullets and explosions that Bay can throw at him.

hidden staircase said...

okay, since we are talking ewan...did you see 'perfect sense'? i'm excited for a rom-com coming out soon with he and emily blunt. looks kinda silly but hey, it's ewan! (salmon fishing in the yemen)

Joshua Blevins Peck said...

I'll watch that new one--but will wait for DVD. Too expensive in LA to pay for things such as that!