A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

The Island

February 23, 2011

The Island

I bought this movie because it was based on a movie featured in a Mystery Science Theater episode. Or at least it is based on the same story as Parts: The Clonus Horror. Only it has a much bigger budget, a different ending, and explosions care of Michael Bay. I also felt as I watched tonight that this movie was missing the same element that the Mission Impossible movies lacked: Peter Graves.

The core plot of this film is exactly the same as Parts. Our hero Lincoln Six Echo is living in an idyllic Utopian society with uniforms provided by a shoe company (Puma this time and not Adidas.) All the track-suited residents of this society believe that they are the last survivors of an apocalyptic disaster that rendered the surface of the planit inhospitable to life. They all long to win a lottery which will allow them to go to “The Island,” which is the last uncontaminated place on Earth. They live in a extremely controlled environment under constant surveillance and surrounded by handlers and security. (I got strong THX-1138 vibes for a lot of the film – so I suppose Michael Bay was “influenced” by more than one movie in making this.)

Of course Lincoln soon discovers that his entire world is a lie. He, and all his friends are actually vat grown clones raised as spare parts for people living out in the real world. Except that the people of the outside world, even the millionaire clients who have commissioned clones, don’t know that the clones are awake and aware. They’ve been told that the clones are dormant, vegetative, unaware meat to be harvested. So when Lincoln and his best friend Jordan Two Delta escape from the facility the director hires a squad of deadly mercenaries to hunt the two of them down before his secret can get out.

I can’t help comparing this movie to Parts and finding The Island wanting. Parts has a grittier, more realistic feel to it. The clones in Parts are mostly lobotomised to keep them placid, which is far more creepy than the just inexperienced clones in this movie. Also, Parts takes place in the current day (well the seventies because that is when it was made, but it was contemporary at the time) and it feels like something that could actually be going on. This movie is far more fantastical, with hover bikes and floating trains and all kinds of futuristic technology. It’s very much a brainless action film – being as it is directed by Michael Bay – and doesn’t have the edge of Parts.

It doesn’t help that there is a lot of sloppy and not very realistic writing here. There were at least two major “I call no way” moments in the film, neither of which are necessary to the overall plot. First was when Dr. Merrick stated that the clones were raised to be the same age as their prospective recipients. If you have the ability to create your clones at any age you’d think that it would be optimal to make them all in their twenties so they’re in perfect health. I know that if I was an eighty year old billionaire who needed a new heart I’d be pretty pissed off if it was eighty years old too. (In Parts it’s clear that the clones are raised until they reach a state of peak physical shape before being chosen to go to “America” when they are frozen to be harvested when the need arises.) Then there’s a whole bit where the clones have started getting memories from their sponsors somehow. It’s never explained by the movie and doesn’t make any sense to me.

I suppose it’s silly of me to expect sense from a Michael Bay movie. It’s got some fun chase scenes, some cool bits where Ewan McGregor plays both Lincoln Six Echo and his sponsor Thomas Lincoln. (The special effects of this kind have sure come a long way since Doc Brown talked to himself in Back to the Future II.) And of course there are plenty of explosions.

Another advantage to having the bottomless pockets and Hollywood cred of Michael Bay involved in the movie is that just about every role in the movie is filled by an accomplished and respected big name actor. Just look at this cast! Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean, Djimon Hounsou, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan, Ethan Phillips… all in the same movie. I had not realized all these familiar faces were going to be in this movie and as the opening credits rolled I found myself getting excited to see what they were all going to be doing.

I don’t want to give the impression that this is a bad movie. It has some good action, some cool sci-fi tech, and if I were not familiar with the movie it was based on I might have even said that it has a creepy and cool premise. It just doesn’t live up to the potential shown by its forbearer. Where Parts is thought provoking and unsettling this movie is just a fun adventure flick that borrows its central plot from Bob Sullivan’s story, Ron Smith’s screenplay, and Myrl Schreibman and Robert Fiveson’s adaptation twenty six years before this movie came out. (Credit where credit is due.)

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

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