Richard reviews The Island

TheIsland1.jpgThe Island, supplied by LOVEFiLM DVD Rental, was nominated on The Movie Blog Readers Awards 2005 in the category of Worst Execution of the Best Plot, and for good reason too. The film may sound like a superb concept, but the realisation is pitifully poor and this DVD does nothing to help it along, neither do the ample talents of Ewan McGregor or Scarlett Johansson.

The film starts of really strongly, and promises much from its well crafted plot. The style is slightly removed from Michael Bay‘s typical blockbuster as we are treated to slower progression of characters and the questioning of McGregor as Lincoln Six-Echo against his reality.

Then, typically, things turn into a big Bay action fest with formulaic plot changes that you can see a mile off. Let me say that I have nothing against those movies because I actually really like The Rock and Armageddon, they’re great fun. Yet when you have such a great futuristic plot filled with excellent possibilities, turning it into standard action fare seems quite a sad and easy path to take.

You see half way through the movie it turns into set pieces which are badly thought through and harshly edited. For instance, take the highway scene where Echo pushes train wheels off the back of a flatbed truck. Those would be train wheels for the magnetic trains that run without wheels that we saw a few times at the beginning of the movie or the fast car used in a high speed chase later in the movie is racing along one second and then the immediate scene after which is tracking the car shows the door wide open, raised in the air, as these doors do. What just happened there? Then there’s the jet bike sequence, and we seen these bikes for well on half their screen time before you can actually see that there’s a second person on the bike, mounted at the rear.

Typically the close cropped camera work, far too fast cuts, and harsh editing make these action sequences difficult to follow. Sure it’s not as bad as some of the Bourne sequences, but this is tough to follow in places.

There’s similar issues all the way through that make you think there have either been some serious continuity errors, someone hasn’t been thinking of the universe in which the movie is set and checking all the story changes, there’s been some harsh editing, or indeed all of the above.

There are some saving graces though, and I’m not talking McGregor’s American accent, although the moment when he confronts his real self and he has a Scottish accent which he mimics is very amusing. No, Johannson fares very well here, as does Djimon Hounsou, let’s just say they do the best with what they have. I mean how can you deal with lines such as “I like it with your tongue” in the middle of a romantic kissing scene? I get that they haven’t kissed before, but it sounds corny as hell and comic.

Presented: 2.35:1 Anamorphic
The picture was sharp, although the colours were slightly drained and the contrast harsh throughout.

Presented: Dolby Digital 5.1
A good audio track, some great LFE during the action sequences, but a DTS on such an action film could have been better, that and some subtlety!

Presented: TV Making of Featurette, DVD-ROM Extras
I actually just thought that there was a single featurette on here which was extremely poor, so after a quick look I sent it back. However I’m now led to believe that there is a full audio commentary from Michael Bay hidden away on the PC DVD-Rom section.

Well I never saw it and it’s not because I didn’t try. I put the DVD into my PC and it attempted a straight install of its own player. Since I already have my own free player I cancelled it and attempted to access anything new on the disc – nothing was visible. Nowhere did I see the mention of the audio commentary now being enabled, perhaps I missed it, but if you’re going to offer it only on the PC side don’t force an install of your own software and make the features plainly visible.

A very poor movie with a botched up DVD offering. Hidden audio commentary, forcing install of it’s own DVD software, is just not on. Poorly put together and a not very enjoyable movie at all.

This DVD was one of my choices from the LOVEFiLM DVD Rental service, it was a shame that I hadn’t yet built up my choices for the excellent recommended service they use for that might have just suggested another movie and not this one!

IMDB UK movie details
My voting history on UK IMDB

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10 thoughts on “Richard reviews The Island

  1. boy i’m getting sick of all the complaining. i found absolutely nothing wrong with this movie, in fact, it’s the best movie i’ve seen in a while. i don’t know if some of you criticize and point out every flaw in great movies like this because you want to make yourself seem more inteligent or because you have nothing better to do or what, but it’s really annoying. you watch movies for entertainment, for fun, if you can’t understand the concept, than do us a favor and stop watching them. you think you can make the movie better? than do it. i would love to see you try.

  2. Another movie i really wanted to like and even though i enjoyed it in parts. most of the film was pure beginner movie making or rushed like hell to get into production

  3. Well we all have our opinions, don’t we.

    And I personally never found The Bourne movies to be cut to a too fast of a pace or something. But if some of you found it that way, well that’s what happened, no harm done. We can’t all have a same taste for things, now can we?

    But the thing we do share is a liking to movies and that’s not a bad habit, is it?


  4. Agree with Richard and the others, fast editing in fight sequences is just a film technique, to either hide the actors inability to do real fight moves or hide the fact that a stuntman or woman is fighting on there behalf.

    At the film school I attend everyone has to do quick cuts in their fight scenes because no one is a real fighter or can pull off the moves realistically in one long shot.

    Take Ong-Bak fro example, I cant think of many scenes in that movie that are anywhere near as edited as some of the action scenes in The Island. And this is because Tony Jaa is a real martial artist and his stunt crew know how to react.

    As to the realism excuse its total BS, the only reason for fast editing is to hide something.

  5. The only time fast cutting worked in an action movie was Batman Begins, it really worked in the short sequences where he would take out the mooks.

    As to the whole “it’s realistic” excuse, I’m surprised you can watch any movie with all the other non-realistic elements. Granted there are a few exceptions to these rules, usually for plot purposes.

    Car chases which don’t have massive police presence, where no gets run over and cars don’t get hit except for one massive pileup.

    Everyone has perfect hearing even in crowded, noisy areas.

    People don’t have telemarketers ring them up or Mormons knocking at the door.

    People not going to the bathroom.

    Mobile phones have great reception.

    Trains and buses are never on strike.

    Fat people are always eating. If they ate as much as they do in the movies they would all be dead.

    Foreign people can never say “Yes” in English, it must be in their native tongue, except if their Russian, then they also can’t say “No”, only “Nyet”.

    Add your own, there are hundreds more examples.

    Excuse the sarcasm, but to claim people have “neurological impairments” because they dislike bad editing, deserves a response.

  6. Good that you got it :)

    Well i guess i could say to that: This is what happens in a real fight situation also. You don’t get a wide frame option for fighting the opponent off. So even in that sense it’s pretty realistic. And also to my knowledge Matt Damon did some pretty extensive training for these roles too (, so not even that would necessiate the need for a “cover up” shooting.

    So I would say that the style chosen is purely for the sake of realism and therefor makes for a believable, enjoyable and good cinema. Which is much more then anyone can hope to look for in a modern multiplex theater.

  7. The train wheels looked old to me. I assumed they were from decommissioned “old-fashioned” trains and were headed to be melted down or something. That doesn’t really save a Michael Bay film from being a Michael Bay film, but that was my guess about the wheels. I just hope he never gets the funding to make the 9/11 film he keeps talking about making. I’m sure it will be a sweeping story of forbidden love between a currency broker and the tour guide whose party become trapped on the observation deck after the first plane hits.

  8. Took a little while to get your meaning here but I got it.

    No, I have no neurological problems, in fact many of my friends share the same viewpoint.

    If you watch a proper martial arts movie you don’t tend to see these close cropped, fast cut fights, mainly because the actual actor is in the scene. Yet it doesn’t take an Asian movie to make it work.

    Take a look at Transporter and, to a lesser degree, Transporter 2, where you will see wide framed action with the camera pulled back to reveal the actual fight with the people involved. Watch as the punch is thrown, the fist lands and the actor\stuntman reacts.

    However watch one of these Hollywood scenes and you’ll see actor 1’s face, actor 2’s face, actor’s 1’s hand, actor’s 1’s face, actor 2’s face from over actor’s 1’s shoulder, stuntman 1’s fist on stuntman 2’s face, stuntman 2 reacting, actor 2’s face, actor 1’s stance and face…all in the time taken in the other scene with one wide shot.

    It’s hard to follow what’s going on other than seeing two people rolling around and doing things, which you tend to know as fighting because of the preceeding set-ups.

  9. I must say that i’ve read in this blog a few times before about complaints on the bourne series, about fast editing on the fight sequenses. And i must say that i find critisizing the fight sequenses a bit odd. First of all they look magnifizent and further more are extremely accurately portrait in comparison to real life situations. This from my point of view and also other practising marshall artists.

    Have u guys ever considered that maybe u have something (neurological impairments) that cause u to not react well to these fast cut scenes?

    Thanks for otherwise great blog!

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