Why do so many of the films I like but nobody else seems to feature Scarlett Johansson?
Director Michael Bay is often derided by film fans as a guy more interested in action, explosions and visuals than in making good movies. Yet since 1995's BAD BOYS, all of Michael Bay's movies have made a ton of money at the box office, with one exception: THE ISLAND. I don't know what it was, but after several movies grossing 100-million plus, THE ISLAND made about 35 million at the box office. In its defense, it did outgross GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK and CAPOTE, two darlings of the critics, as well as SERENITY, my favorite movie of that particular year. Also in its defense: Steve Buscemi in a sci-fi movie; a cameo by Shawnee Smith; the guy that played Neelix in Star Trek: Voyager; Michael Clarke Duncan; and, let's not forget, Scarlett Johansson in tight futuristic clothes. Can you blame me for calling it one of my quirky favorites?
Yeah, the film is a retread of ideas and sequences from maybe half a dozen other sci-f films, such as LOGAN'S RUN, COMA and especially THE CLONUS HORROR, and even borrows a little something from Shirley Jackson's classic short story "The Lottery". By rights, I should be annoyed by this film since there are relatively few original ideas in it. But it tries so earnestly to be a retro-sci-fi classic, and the cast is so well chosen, I actually have a ton of affection for THE ISLAND. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are fabulous at playing a pair of innocents who live in a world that is not what they think it is, while Sean Bean revels in the part of the villain, a part he also played in the Bond film GOLDENEYE. Director Bay may have a reputation as the non-thinking man's director, but the special effects are good and mostly non-gratuitous, and there is a story here, one simple enough to follow but strong enough to hold your interest, just in case Scar-Jo running around in those tight clothes doesn't do anything for you. ½ - JB