Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Island - A Review

The Island
A Film by Richard Bay

(Okay, an older film by Richard Bay but one that I watched again on HBO yesterday)

 Here is a nice little movie that started off with an interesting premise (okay, one that we’ve seen before) about a small colony that has survived some sort of cataclysmic contamination where nearly everything and everybody else is wiped out. Mankind is living in a large underground city where their one hope is to be chosen to move to THE ISLAND. This is an idyllic paradise (would that be redundant?) that somehow escaped the holocaust that destroyed the rest of the world.

So far so good… but there is a problem. This underground city is run by people who seem to know what it going on and those who are held there don’t seem to wonder why the workers and leaders are not included in the lottery for a trip to THE ISLAND. I mean there are all these “outsiders” running around who provide various services and no one seems to wonder why they are “different.” The life of the inhabitants is regulated carefully with doctors and nurses, and dieticians who might really just be cooks, and maintenance workers who mingle with the inhabitants who still remain clueless… except for one smartass who asks some embarrassing questions and who has strange dreams of an outside world.

So this little enclave continues with inhabitants periodically selected to go to THE ISLAND. Now I get that the inhabitants (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the film) are bred for a specific purpose (The Clonus Horror) and while they are full grown adults without a hint of a child anywhere (and wouldn’t the superrich want a backup for their kids but let’s just ignore that) and not taught anything at a very high level, but given the end of the movie, you’d think they would be able to think much better than they do. Once two of them escape, these inhabitants who have been taught to read at a first grade level are able to handle much higher level thought processes as the chase ensues and they find themselves fighting for their lives.

So, as I mentioned, (I’m not sure this is a spoiler, but thought I’d mention it anyway) two of the inhabitants escape into the “real” world. Now you would think that those who built and operate this underground world would have been smart enough to lock the doors and pay someone minimum wage to make sure that no one gets near the exit, but if that was done, well there would be no escape and no chase with flying motorcycles (like Star Wars) and sense of wonder in the outside (Logan’s Run), no reason for the big climactic (well anti-climactic) ending.

What gets me is that these two escapees, who have never seen any real high tech stuff, driven a car or motorcycle, who probably wouldn’t know a handgun if they saw one, once outside are able to use these devices as if they’ve had them all their lives. We see it all the time in these movies. The amateurs with no training and no experience are able to defeat those with years of training and experience at every turn… the guys with machine guns are unable to hit the hero, but he or she never misses a shot with a handgun.

While the chase scenes are spectacular, they really have no place in the movie other than to fill up minutes with great special effects. They actually crash through the upper floors of a building, slide out the other side and nearly… nearly, plummet to their deaths. I’m not sure how far the fall, but one catches the other in a fit of strength that would impress Superman. The plot slips off the rails as we learn (spoiler again) that our heroes are clones of those on the outside raised illegally to provide body parts for the superrich on the outside as the need arises… didn’t we all see that coming?

But here’s the bottom line on this. I liked the movie. I got caught up in it and overlooked some of the blatant holes in the plot… until the whole film falls apart at the end. How could you run this underground city for years without the government finding it or one of those employees selling out the secret? How do they advertise their service of providing body parts without someone who isn’t supposed to know the secret learning of it? How can they create this super underground parts factory with super science and then not invest in a lock or two that actually works to keep those inside who are supposed to be inside?

Anyway, this was a nice little diversion and I’ve watched it a couple of times. I wouldn’t really call it science fiction… more action-adventure with an overtone of science fiction. If you haven’t seen it and the spoilers haven’t, well, spoiled it, take a look. It’s certainly better than some of the nonsense coming out today.

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