I just watched The Island on HBO, but this wasn’t the first time I’d seen it. I actually saw it in the theater a year ago. It piqued my interest because it sported something unusual for a Michael Bay film: a smattering of positive reviews. This struck me as odd, because Michael Bay (Bad Boys and Bad Boys II, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor) doesn’t make good movies. Few facts are as undisputed as this.
Somehow, The Island is actually quite good. Good performances, a story that stays interesting throughout its duration, and spectacular–and I mean really great–production design combine to make a film that is considerably better than almost all of the sci-fi fare out there. The story’s cloning premise manages to be thought-provoking. Moments in the film are touching. Incredible…but true.
Yet The Island doesn’t get much respect. The movie didn’t do well at the box office, I suspect because Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson–though they do a nice job in the film–aren’t the kind of draws you need to pull the action crowd into the theaters. And it’s not perfect: for me, the main problem is product placement so ubiquitous that you can’t not notice it. Still, it’s not enough to bring the movie down.
Note to sci-fi fans: you willingly support the most underperforming genre–in a quality sense–in mainstream film. When a movie like The Island shows up, you can’t afford to skip it.