The Island (2005) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

The Island (2005) Directed by Michael Bay. With Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clarke Duncan and Ethan Phillips.

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Notable for being the debut of screen-writing duo Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci, The Island is a mega-budget sci-fi action-thriller directed by Michael Bay. It begins by introducing us to Ewan McGregor as ‘Lincoln Six Echo’, one member of a society of people living in a state of dystopia. They live inside of a sleek, clinical-looking facility. Everyone wears a white tracksuit and Puma sneakers (in Hollywood, there’s always room for product placement) – going about their mundane business in the hope of one day winning the lottery and being taken away to the paradise of ‘the island‘.

Looking back at the career of Michael Bay to date, it is perhaps a toss-up between this and The Rock as examples of his best work. Aside from the inconsistency of McGregor’s US accent, the film begins well. The science-fiction environment is impressively dressed and sets an early sense of promise. We’re then introduced to the lips, blonde hair and big mischievous eyes of Scarlett Johansson. Disappointingly, that’s more-or-less all she’s there for.

As things ramp-up, some of the air begins to bleed out of the tyres, that is until a thrilling motorway chase sequence involving giant dumbbells and masses of destruction. After that, things settle down again, steadily becoming less interesting as the 136min running time begins to stretch our interest.

This being a Michael Bay film, there are plenty of rapid-fire edits of helicopters and vehicles – with many of the outdoor scenes drenched in that orangey glow, with a sickly-looking yellowy-brown and green for indoors. Although it’s mostly restrained (for him), there’s the occasional sexist joke in an exposition-laden script, heavy with clunky dialogue. Thankfully, Steve Buscemi is on-hand to make portions of it sing.

It doesn’t capitalise on a promising start and it squanders the talent of Johansson – yet intermittently, it engages with Bay’s ability to hammer-home the big-budget bravado. What begins with bright potential as an intelligent science-fiction tale, soon degenerates into a category of predictably casual popcorn-fodder. 3/5

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About garethrhodes

Full-time lover of all things creative.
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20 Responses to The Island (2005) Film Review by Gareth Rhodes

  1. Paul S says:

    Bayhem™ comes to full fruition?

  2. Sometimes, especially when watching The Rock, I feel that all that Bay really needs to make a good film is a good screenplay and some self-control. But maybe that’s just me.

    • garethrhodes says:

      I think you’re absolutely right. There’s a lot of cheap Bay-bashing out there, and he leaves himself wide-open to most of it. But he does have some talent, he just struggles to control himself, like you rightly point out.

      • Excess is how he became famous, but he then took the excess to a…well, excessive level in order to try and escalate and up the ante. Turn it up to eleven, in a phrase, when it should really only be an eight.

      • garethrhodes says:

        Yes. He seems obsessed with scale and length, but he’s no James Cameron. I’m guessing he doesn’t give a stuff what the critics say about him, as long as the box office cash registers continue to ring.

      • The funny thing is, James Cameron regularly makes as much, and quite often more, money at the box office than Bay does.

      • garethrhodes says:

        Yes, I think that Cameron’s films get audiences back for second and third screenings. Bay’s films (especially Transformers) are seen once by masses of disappointed people.

  3. Kgothatjo Magolego says:

    I actually forgot this movie was directed by Michael Bay till you pointed it out now. It’s one of the more un-Michael Bay movies he’s made. I really liked this movie and I’ve seen it a few times, I think when he has people around him telling him that not everything has to explode, he makes some great movies.

  4. pixie says:

    Popcorn fodder aside I still loved the action and the chase. The leads were great, despite the limited dialogue. Thanks for bringing up this decade old one 🙂

  5. filmfunkel says:

    …is “Bayhem” really trademarked?!? : /

    (I was looking forward to using it without any expressed written consent.)

  6. Chris Evans says:

    Great review Gareth, I remember seeing this at the cinema with my best mate – we both loved it at the time but it’s not quite as good on subsequent viewings. Still a decent bit of undemanding escapism though and, my god, ScarJo is beautiful!

    • garethrhodes says:

      Thank you Chris, I can imagine feeling the same after a cinema outing with friends. It’s what films like this are made for. Scarjo is completely stunning, as always. Can’t we hurry up and clone her so that we can all have one!? Now there’s an idea for a sci-fi film!

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