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Island, The

Entry updated 24 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (2005). DreamWorks Pictures and Warner Bros Pictures present a Parkes/Macdonald production. Directed by Michael Bay. Written by Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci. Cast includes Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Djimon Hounsou, Scarlett Johansson and Ewan McGregor. 136 minutes. Colour.

The United States, 2019 CE. In a sterile, Underground community, the white-clad populace are taught that they are among the few survivors of an apocalyptic plague that devastated Earth. On the surface, humanity is allegedly beginning to reseed the planet and a City is being constructed on an uncontaminated paradise called "the Island". Within the subterranean facility a lottery randomly selects lucky individuals to be transported to the Island. Nobody who emigrates there ever returns. The atypically sceptical citizen Lincoln Six Echo (McGregor) investigates the situation and realizes that he and his peers have been living in a constructed environment (see Pocket Universe; Conceptual Breakthrough). In truth they are Clones, kept docile by an immoral corporation that replicates wealthy clients. Then, under the pretence of taking them to the Island, the clones are harvested for organs that can be used by the originals to prolong their lives (see Organlegging). Lincoln escapes from the facility with his friend Jordan Two Delta (Johansson), and the pair find themselves adrift in a thriving America. On the run from agents of the cloning company, which is determined to keep the true nature of its unsavoury operation a secret, Lincoln and Jordan resolve to return to the harvesting facility. Once back, they kill the chief scientist (Bean) and rescue their fellow clones.

Director Michael Bay developed his notorious reputation, often in tandem with producer Jerry Bruckheimer, with a number of crudely but enjoyably spectacular movies that elevated action above everything else, including characterization: The Rock (1996) and Pearl Harbor (2001) are examples. His previous science-fiction film was Armageddon (1998). Bay manages to control his destructive urges during the opening hour of The Island, but the strain of adhering to a more contemplative style than usual begins to tell, and the second half of the film resounds with explosions, car chases and gunfights. Trailers for the film spoiled the big plot twist, but the design and plot of the movie are so familiar from prior sf films that it is obvious to anyone with more than a passing knowledge of science fiction where the film is going. As is typical for a Michael Bay film, millions of dollars have been spent on a cast which is then largely wasted in underwritten roles. Nevertheless, The Island is undoubtedly the most thought-provoking movie that Bay has made. It was also, by far, the least successful financially. [JN]


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