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Review: The Island (2005)

The Island (2005) 

Directed by: Michael Bay

Premise: Two people (Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson) living in a controlled, utopian future end up on the run after they discover that they are clones intended as spare body parts for rich and powerful people.

What Works: The film is a throwback to the Orwell influenced science fiction films of the 1970s such as THX-1138 and Logan’s Run. Like those films, The Island references philosophical constructs such as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and uses them as a template to create the world of the film. The Island is able to take advantage of the contemporary special effects tools and delivers as a piece of solid action entertainment.

What Doesn’t: As an homage to the films of the 1970s, The Island fails to add anything new to the formula, aside from some protracted action sequences. Beyond the obvious reference to Plato, the film does not take the next step of using it to make a substantive argument. There are hints about it, but the film does not develop them enough. There are some moments in the chase sequences that are too futuristic and feel out of place in this film.

Bottom Line: The Island is better than we have come to expect from Michael Bay, whose directing career can be best described as uneven. It has all the hallmarks of a Bay film and so fans of his other work should enjoy The Island. It’s also a film to be enjoyed by fans of Orwellian science fiction despite its short comings.

Episode: #62 (July 31, 2005)