Elias presents ... a worm!    Thoughts on family, philosophy,
and technology


Monday, August 28, 2006

The Island

7 out of 10

Amy and I watched The Island on DVD. I think my friend got it right when he summarized: "It's bad, but it's awesome." The plot is not unique and the drama never really gets past second gear, but it's a well-done sci-fi action movie which mixes some intriguing elements of prior works to form a compelling experience.

The movie Signs is essentially a rehash of an old movie and a very old book: War of the Worlds meets The Book of Job. But whereas Signs ends up completely unsatisfying despite these proven roots, The Island re-uses good stories to good effect.

Basically, The Island is Logan's Run plus Robin Cook's Coma. Amy said it has an element of Run Lola Run, too -- that is, lots of running with appropriate music. And there are other obvious comparisons to be made. The dystopic desperation and fleeing is reminiscent of Gattaca, Minority Report, and especially THX 1138 -- which may have inspired Logan's Run, come to think of it. A highway chase scene seems borrowed from the second Matrix flick (if only the latter could have had a point). And like the Matrix franchise in general, the action here is ridiculous -- specifically, it's of the crashing, smashing, how-did-they-survive-that sort of preposterousness. Something I like on occasion, if the plot can keep up.

The worst part of the movie can be summed up in two words: Steve Buscemi. Although it's hard to blame the actor when the part he is given is such a tired rehash of his previous characters: a sardonic, pained, blue-collar barfly. The very existence of this character is probably the biggest hole in the plot, although the bigger problem for the audience is that one of Buscemi's jobs is to give us cheap laughs in the middle of the story, just as the protagonists have their lives turned upside-down. I'm all for having a break in the action, but how many cheesy romantic outfits in a girlfriend's closet are actually funny? Surely less than three.

Ewan McGregor's acting is sufficient, I thought, with Scarlet Johansson coming in a bit weaker, though admittedly there's not much to her character. Britney Spears probably could have stood in.

So long as no one ruins the plot for you, The Island can be a satisfying movie despite its basic unoriginality. It actually went on about half-an-hour longer than I was expecting, and that was enjoyable. It should be worth a second viewing in a few years.



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