Michael Bay's first solo outing (and ironically, first failure) from under mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer's wings is his usual ode to fire and loud noises, but blanketed over a half-brained sci-fi yarn starring out-of-place screaming indie actors. Yes, this is The Island, a wicked jaw-dropper from the director who did a sore job of kicking things off professionally under the watchful eye of new teacher Steven Spielberg, whose DreamWorks studio was subsequently sold in part because of this bomb. It was the bearded one who first highlighted the script as one of the most creative he'd ever seen, which is ironic since one of the only other sci-fi clone flicks out there, Clonus, shares enough of the exact same story that it resulted in legal action. Though the setup might be the same, The Island is pure sci-fi-"lite" all the way, which really only acts as a bridge to his wham-bam action beats. While one does get the feeling that Bay really was looking for meaning with the first act, it seems that he can't help but give in to his sensory-overloaded style when the movie hits all its cylinders. The film's big-screen duo are quite amusing in their own ways as well, with Ewan McGregor flashing his Moulin Rouge smile when he wants to look innocent, while Scarlett Johansson's throaty baritone is tested by over-the-top screaming that makes her sound like Eddie Furlong in T2. For historical purposes, the city of Detroit is an interesting location choice, and the use of the abandoned old Train Station is worthy of note, though even then, Bay's vision of Los Angeles in the future is dictated by dueling aesthetics that bounce between shiny technology and burned-out buildings. With indulgent product placement and rather obvious handling of what could have been weighty material, The Island might end up being Bay's most blatant product since he semi-retired from the commercial industry -- except this time, no one is buying.
by Jeremy Wheeler review