A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 360 – The Island

The Island – February 23rd, 2011

Back when this movie was coming out in theaters I remember seeing ads for it. And at first I wasn’t sure, but the more and more I saw, the more and more convinced I was that this was a remake of a movie I am ridiculously familiar with. We make no attempt to hide our MST3K fan status (I know my info club member number by heart and my card is signed by Joel), so I feel no shame in admitting that we’ve seen the episode Parts: The Clonus Horror many many many times. And this looked bizarrely similar. So we looked it up and no, it didn’t seem to have any connection. Eventually we heard there’d been a suit filed and settled out of court for a sum of money. And I’ve got to say, I’m not surprised they settled. Cause this? This is so very similar to Clonus.

I wouldn’t say it’s exactly the same movie, but it does have the same premise and the same basic plot arc. We’re shown a vast and idyllic facility where a large number of people are living what seem like fairly boring but not unpleasant lives. They have menial but not taxing jobs. They eat bland but not bad food. They all wear white workout gear and keep fit. And they all participate in the Lottery. No, not the Shirley Jackson sort, but close. The folks in the facility all think that winning the Lottery means they get to go to the Island. They believe they’re the only survivors of a horrible contagion that’s wiped out most of humanity and the Island is the only uncontaminated place left. Winners are sent there to start rebuilding the world’s population. But of course it’s all a lie and the winners are actually killed (see, Shirley Jackson, but without the motivation in the story) because they’re clones of people outside in the real world and have been created to allow their “sponsors” to live for as long as possible. Creepy, huh?

Clonus, by the way? Same premise. Exactly. Replace “The Island” with “America” and the vast underground bunker with a college-type campus in the middle of the desert and add in a lot more product placement and you’ve got it. Identical workout gear, unaware of the outside world, chosen to “leave” when their real world counterpart needs a new whatever? Yup, pretty much. And eventually two of the clones, a man and a woman, find out what’s going on and escape into the world to try and track down the people they were made from. The big differences are in the level of creepy (which I will get into), the explosions (since this is directed by Michael Bay) and the ending, which is brutal in an entirely different way from Clonus. And you know what? I cannot find it in myself to be upset over this. It’s a good little “tampered in god’s domain” sort of plot and let’s face it, Clonus got picked for MST3K. We’re not talking Academy Award stuff here. It’s fun and all, but I don’t mind in the least that an updated version was made, with better acting and effects and sets.

Of course, this movie has plenty of flaws itself. A lot of the dialogue is ridiculous (especially the whole “I can tell you’re lying by your eyes” bit that Scarlett Johansson’s character, Jordan Two Delta, says to Ewan MacGregor’s, Lincoln Six Echo) and some of the plot points are vague and unnecessary. It’s a whole lot of big deal made and then the actual creepiness that’s alluded to and flat out shown gets tossed aside in favor of fast car chases on hover-motorcycles and impossible falls off buildings in giant signage (I can’t explain it better, I’m sorry). Every time I thought there’d be more interesting stuff with Lincoln’s “sponsor” and his skeeviness or Jordan’s “sponsor” and her on-the-brink-of-deathness, no. More explosions and shootouts and chases. And that makes me sad.

There’s a lot of potential in the world that this movie is based in. It could have gone so much deeper into the creepy dystopia aspects and instead it goes with the action. We see a young woman give birth only to be killed and her baby given to her “sponsor” couple. We see a man wake up mid-operation and claw at the floor. The ending for Lincoln and his source is predictable, but interesting and has some potentially nasty implications. It’s very clear that this is a nasty place full of unkind people. People who don’t see the clones as human. And then there’s a whole subplot with four of the newest generations of clones starting to develop curiosity about their world and somehow regain the memories of their sources without ever having met them and it’s all just a tool. It’s not delved into. It’s not explored. Because the movie already clocks in at a good bit over two hours and if we explored that we’d have to cut a few seconds of car chase or something. It’s an action movie that could have been so much more.

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February 23, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , , ,

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