The Island

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Warning! This review gives away the silly plot of The Island but I don't spoil the ending.

      The Island is not exactly new and different. It's fairly entertaining but it's also a big mess. The screenwriters have stolen liberally from Logan's Run, The Matrix, and The Village. Stealing from The Matrix is a given, every SciFi movie does that, but I thought everyone had forgotten about Logan's Run. Maybe that's what the screenwriter thought too. "Sandmen never run!" A remake of Logan's Run is in the works, although it is presently in development hell. Anyway, here's the plot of The Island. See if you can guess which bits came from which movie. A young man (Ewan McGregor) is living in a post-apocalyptic Earth of 2019. Something has made most of the planet toxic to life and the survivors are living in a dome waiting to win a Lottery which sends the lucky winners to the last non-toxic spot on the Earth, known as The Island. Unfortunately, being sent to The Island is just like "renewal" in Logan's Run. All is not what it seems. McGregor is unhappy with his little world and has begun to question some of its more unbelievable aspects. The leader of the facility (Sean Bean) tries to calm McGregor's fears and also his unhealthy attraction to a beautiful fellow survivor (Scarlett Johansson). His co-workers (Ethan Phillips, Michael Clarke Duncan etc.) are only interested in winning the Lottery. But McGregor has befriended the local computer guy (Steve Buscemi) who doesn't live in the dome. Hmmm, how can this be? Buscemi won't tell him what's going on, but McGregor finds his way out of the dome anyway, and finds himself in a scary medical facility. Here he finds that people who go to The Island are really being killed and their organs harvested, and that the "survivors" are actually clones, grown and controlled like in The Matrix. Johansson wins the Lottery but before she can be shipped out, McGregor takes her and escapes to the outside world. Unlike, Logan's Run, the outside world in The Island is just the ordinary world we live in today. This is like The Village. The survivors have just been convinced that the world is toxic so they won't try and escape. Rich clients of teh facility have had themselves cloned so that new organs will be available if they need them. Much like in Logan's Run, McGregor and Johansson are terribly naive about real life. They don't even know about sex. Bean sends some bad guys (Djimon Hounsou et al.) to catch or kill our heroes who are trying to adapt to life in the outside world.

      The screenwriter for The Island, who has the dreadful name, Caspian Tredwell-Owen, has only one other movie credit and it doesn't give one confidence, Beyond Borders. His lack of imagination is shown in that he even stole the character names from Logan's Run.The director is Michael "I like explosions" Bay. He has previously directed Bad Boys, The Rock, Armageddon and Pearl Harbor. You get the idea. The only problem in The Island is that he has to spend the first two-thirds of the movie setting up and explaining the plot so he really has to pack in the explosions during the exciting climax. Mainly though, The Island is saved by having a pretty nice cast. Ewan McGregor almost saves this movie singlehandedly. He has already shown that he can play anything from Star Wars to Moulin Rouge to Trainspotting. He's a character actor who gets leading man parts. As usual, he's very interesting here, and he's joined by Johansson who, even though she is no Ewan McGregor, does well for herself. In the cast, as well, are Sean Bean who is a great baddie, and Steve Buscemi who is a great wacko. Also present are a couple of former Oscar nominees, Djimon Hounsou (In America) as the head of the SWAT team, and Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) as an unlucky Lottery winner. Another unlucky winner is Ethan Phillips. Whenever I see him now, I can't figure out who he is until I close my eyes, and listen to his voice, the grating voice of Neelix!

      The Island is not the worst movie ever and, like I said, the cast is great to watch. And there are lots of explosions! The plot doesn't make a great deal of sense and it often seems like it has been recycled one too many times. Maybe we should wait until the remake of Logan's Run comes out. But it won't be the same without Jenny Agutter.