Island
You don’t need to run, Scarlett. I can pick you up in my car. Just give me a call.

Theatrical Release Date: 07/22/2005
Director: Michael Bay
Cast: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean

Ahhh, preview screenings. There’s nothing to get you in a better mood to watch a film than some serious guys in suits telling everyone to turn off all electronic devices, because you’ll be escorted from the theatre if you don’t, and then announcing, “It’s a good film, it’s very … loud.”

And with “The Island”, director Michael Bay has crafted another film full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. If you get that literary reference, you’re probably watching Michael Bay movies to give your brain some time to cool off between thoughts. Not to say that’s necessarily a bad thing, but I think it’s safe to say that his movies are not meant to challenge your belief systems.

In the movie, Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson play clones, (though, of course, they don’t know that) bred to provide replacement parts for their “sponsors”. Sean Bean is the doctor behind it all, trying to engineer a longer lifespan for all the wealthy clients who can afford their own genetically-matched organ re-supply depot. Djimon Hounsou plays an ex-Delta Force mercenary, hired to capture Macgregor and Johansson upon their inevitable escape. Steve Buscemi and Michael Clarke Duncan round out Bay’s usual suspects in supporting roles.

The clone colony (which is more like a Simi Valley replica, I think I counted 4 minorities) is led to believe that the Earth has suffered a catastrophic contamination event, and now only their hi-tech would-be apartment complex keeps them from becoming sick and dying out in the real world. But, there is still one safe haven on Earth: the island – where upon winning the lottery, clones are sent to live in paradise. Of course, in reality, winning the lottery means their sponsor needs a liver and it’s time to cut up their “insurance policy”.

Once out in the real world, we get 10 minutes of McGregor and Johansson learning how to act in society, a la an alien landing on Earth, and then Hounsou and his fellow mercs start an all-out war in 2019 Los Angeles to get them back. Countless cars are destroyed on the same freeway used in “The Matrix:Reloaded”, and little regard is given to the LAPD’s safety, with the chase ending up on the logo of a skyscraper in downtown L.A. As seen in all the trailers, the logo falls off and our heroes plunge towards terra firma.

Through the magic of C.G.I. and the luck of Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton in “Twister”, Johansson and McGregor survive and concoct a plan to not only save themselves, but all the other clones still in their paradise prison. Almost as unbelievable as their death-defying antics, is that in just 15 years, L.A. will have mass-transit and most of the cars in Southern California won’t be from Japan. I spotted a Honda Element parked in a garage, but everything else was either a Chrysler or a Cadillac, with a Hummer thrown in for good measure.

In any case, as far as Michael Bay films, go, this could have gone worse. He’ll probably never top “The Rock” but this is no “Pearl Harbor”. The story is unoriginal, but McGregor and Johansson are a far better duo than Ben Affleck and Liv Tyler, so at least you didn’t want to strangle the main characters for 2 hours.

The dialogue is far from inspiring. Lines such as “The island is real. It’s us” and “I can tell when you’re lying because your mouth smiles but your eyes don’t” make me want to harm small animals and large children. And while the audience is being treated to the utopian society the clones live in, we get wannabe-futuristic quips like “Watch your proximity” and the fashion sense of a Nike store. Since some of the cloning processes reminded me so much of “Demolition Man” meets “The Matrix”, I was hoping at one point that people would greet each other with a non-contact high five, or maybe a Keanu Reeves-like “Whoa”. But alas, this movie has robbed me of that as well.

All of the quintessential Bay trademarks are present, such as “shaky cam” to make the action seem so real, the camera shots taken from shoe level to make the characters and surroundings seem so immense, and, of course, the “Hero Shot”. The Hero Shot is when Bay circles the characters / landscapes with the camera, combined with dramatic music, to give the audience a sense of awe about the scene. My running tally counted 10 Hero Shots, with 1 more Super Hero Shot, where the camera did multiple circles. Each time, I was giddy with excitement because why build a movie with substance and intelligence, when you can just move the camera around in interesting and grandiose ways to fool the audience into thinking they are watching something poetic.

In the end, I got what I wanted. A good chase sequence, crazy Michael Bay camera movements, and Scarlett Johansson. While I waited until after the movie to drink a few margaritas, I suggest bringing that sixer of Old Style hidden in your pants, turning off your cell phone and leaving your brain at the door. A 3 out of 5.