Wednesday, December 28, 2005

DVD Review: The Island

You know how some heavy metal songs start out slow and ballad-like and then suddenly the power chords cut through the quiet and the rockin' and the rollin' begins. That's Michael Bay's new sci-fi movie on DVD, The Island. It's a slow and thoughtful concept movie and a fast and frantic action movie all rolled into one.

The first 20 minutes or so set up the concept. Why are all these people dressed alike and why are they living pampered lives in an enclosed and antiseptic habitat? Why are they all so childish? Why can't Scarlett Johanssen be touched? What's up with that?

Then suddenly the movie changes from being a "film" into being a Michael Bay movie, with the running, and the jumping, and the fighting, and the chasing, and things blowing up. Very exciting!

There are some great chase scenes in this movie. Special effects have come a long way or somebody has invented really cool flying motorcyles. With mounted machine guns and missiles! Yes!

There's something for the brain, too, in the movie's themes of what it means to be human and the morality, or not, of treating human beings as tools for the benefit of others. Something for contemporary society to think about. Can you say "embryonic stem cells?"

And then there's Scarlett Johanssen. Something else to think about, but in a different way. Ewan McGregor is very good, as always. Has he ever just phoned it in? Not so far. Steve Buscemi, sorry to say, does. Besides McGregor and Johanssen, Sean Bean puts in a convincing performance as the bad guy. Credit has to go to all the actors playing the sheltered clones. They do a very fine job of portraying childish adults. It's disconcerting to watch at first until it's revealed why the characters behave the way they do.

Rent the DVD. It won't be a waste of time or money.



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