The Island

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. I thoroughly enjoyed “The Island” and though the disc is surprisingly sparse on extras, I’d recommend a rental at least.

Video: How does it look?

“The Island” makes full use of the very wide 2.40:1 frame and the anamorphic image looks clean and vibrant throughout. There are several very stylized shots (as is consistent with most of Bay’s films) that mess with the hue and saturation of the picture, though the images are still crystal clear. Fleshtones are natural, but vary during the course of the film as the “military compound” look gives them a more washed out appearance, yet when they get to the surface its more of an oversaturated look to them. I had no complaints about how this movie looked on DVD, neither will you.

Audio: How does it sound?

If there is one thing that Michael Bay’s films are known for, it’s gotta be the sound! The Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack is pushed to the limits here and it’s a good thing that I watched this movie during the day, else I’d get a call from the landlord! Surround effects are dominant in most every scene in the film and there are plenty of explosions, gun shots and just about every other sound out there that will keep your speakers humming away. If you’re tuning in for sound, you’ve found the right DVD.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The extras on “The Island” aren’t too plentiful. There’s an audio commentary with Michael Bay that’s pretty informative and tells a lot of details about the shoot and the story behind the movie. Also included is a brief featurette on some of the stunts in the movie, notably the car chase scene.

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