The Island (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

When I think of the films of Michael Bay, my mind unwillingly wonders into that Jerry Bruckheimer mentality and movies like “Bad Boys” and “Pearl Harbor” start popping into my mind. Then I think of “Armageddon” and that damn Aerosmith video! But then I think of movies that I like and have seen several times like “The Rock”. Granted that all of those had a few things in common, the aforementioned Mr. Bruckheimer. With “The Island” Bay doesn”t have his buddy as a safety net and you know what, I don”t think he needed him this time around. I found “The Island” to have the best bits of every one of Michael Bay”s movies and though I”m not the first one to mention it, there are bits and pieces of movies like “Gattaca”, “Logan”s Run”, “Coma” and even “Brave New World”. But can a movie be too smart and too clever for its own good? Maybe, but not in this case. Here”s why “The Island” is a cut above the rest”

Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) is one of thousands who have supposedly survived the “Contamination”. His life is mundane, his clothes always white and pressed and when he”s had too much sodium, and his bacon rations are cut. This is fine and well for most of the inhabitants of “wherever” they are but Lincoln has something that most of his friends and co-workers don”t: curiosity. Lincoln ventures to the lower depths to meet with his friend McCord (Steve Buscemi) who tells him stories of before the contamination. We learn that sex drive has been removed from their system, yet Lincoln is undeniably attracted to Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson). And the motivating factor for everyone is to win the lottery to the island! Naturally things can”t be that good and it”s not long before Lincoln”s curiosity gets the best of him and he and Jordan are running for their lives. What”s the secret of the island and will Jordan and Lincoln be alive to see it?

At 2 hours plus “The Island” runs a bit on the long side and I would have liked to see a bit more of life underground, but the chase is the most exciting part and the movie really takes off when we learn the terrible secret. Bay is in top form here as are McGregor and Johansson whose on-screen chemistry is very evident. What sets this movie apart from others is the great script by Caspian Tredwell-Owen, Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. It”s smart and though it”s not a two hour rush of adrenaline, the movie provides us with enough back-story so that we identify with the characters.

Video: How does it look?

It’s amazing how time flies and when I sat down and watched “The Island” again, I did somewhat of a double take when I realized this movie came out in 2005. Technology has improved a lot since then and now that we’ve got this movie on Blu-ray, I think it really shines. Granted, the standard DVD was by no means a poor transfer. The 2.40:1 AVC HD image looks amazing, with colors jumping off the screen, contrast and hue appear to be right on the money. Detail is incredible as well, there’s nary a flaw to be found on Scarlett Johansson’s face (or body). As is the case with a lot of Michael Bay films, the movie is very stylized and has a sequence of super slow motion scenes. Everything that was visually good about “The Island” is amplified on this Blu-ray version.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is most certainly a step up from the previous Dolby Digital 5.1 found on the standard DVD. Bay’s movies excel on a technical level and this is certainly no exception. The general ambiance seems to start at the opening credits and really doesn’t let up until the ending ones. Dialogue is very sharp with no distortion to be found. Where the sound mix really takes control is with the LFE mixed in with the rear surrounds. This creates an almost dizzying 360 degree effect that really engrosses you in the film. The front stage is also very active and this uncompressed mix is truly one that needs to be experienced first hand.

Supplements: What are the extras?

I really can’t remember the exact features that were found on the standard DVD, but I do remember the audio commentary by director Michael Bay. The track has been ported over to this Blu-ray and it is indeed the same track. Bay gives a good session here and though there are a few more dead spots than I’d like, it’s still nice to have this as opposed to not. We also get a trio of supplements starting off with “Pre-Visualization: Forward Thinking”, “The Future in Action” and the obligatory “The Making of ‘The Island'”. These are pure EPK fluff, but if you’re a fan of the movie then you should get a kick out of them.

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