The Island - * *
Viewed on DVD -- 2/18/06
If the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, then The Island is the reverse of that axiom. All its parts are stronger than the whole, and the story is ultimately crushed by this faulty design.
The "parts" of this movie are sometimes very strong. The director, Michael Bay, who gave us the equally problematic Armageddon and Pearl Harbor, excels at creating beautiful pictures, big explosions, and an interesting soundscape. But when it comes to the story, Bay always seems to go off course. It's almost as if Bay and his screenwriters thought that whenever they didn't know what to do, they should blow something up. And, I admit, some of the action scenes are simply breathtaking--comparable to set pieces in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. There are too many of them.
The Island is about what could happen if human cloning were turned into a business. Ewan McGregor is Lincoln Six Echo, who is living in what appears to be a Utopian society. And, like all the other people, Six Echo wants to go to "The Island." The Island is the last habitable place on Earth, and each week some lucky person gets drawn in a lottery to go live in paradise. Six Echo is curious, and he soon discovers the truth behind the lottery and everything else going on.
The Island borrows from many movies--but most heavily from THX-1138, Blade Runner, and Logan's Run. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but in this case it ended up reminding me of how interesting those movies were, and how unfocused The Island is.
A few days after watching this film, I kept thinking that this could have been a really great movie. The Island has top-notch actors with McGregor, Scarlett Johanssan, Sean Bean, and Michael Clarke Duncan (I have a feeling that most of Duncan's part ended up on the cutting-room floor). At its best moments, The Island reminds us of how cool Sci-Fi movies can be. At its worst, it reminds us of what can happen to great ideas in the wrong hands.