Hurricane Michael

Director Michael Bay lays waste to The Island, blows massive budget

RUN, RUN AWAY <br>High-speed near misses abound as Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson run through Michael Bay’s hundred-million-dollar maze.

High-speed near misses abound as Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson run through Michael Bay’s hundred-million-dollar maze.

The Island Starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson. Directed by Michael Bay. Rated PG-13.
Rated 2.0

Michael Bay recently crowed in an interview that he had never dropped a bomb (box office-wise) on the cineplexes. Well, $122 million later and after an opening weekend take of an anemic $14 million dollars, I think I hear a speakerphone somewhere in the bowels of Hollywood:

“Hello. … Hubris Phone for Mr. Bay. It’s a collect call…”

I rarely fully indulge in schadenfreude, but here it is long overdue—and in this case well deserved. Appropriately enough, Bay’s movie about harvesting clones for organs indulges in the cinematic equivalent of same, as the premises of Coma, Logan’s Run, THX-1138 and even the low-budgeter The Clonus Horror get vivisected here (you know you’ve got problems when your hacks are ripping off a flick that has the dubious distinction of being deconstructed by the crew of Mystery Science Theatre 3000).

Ewan MacGregor is a clone in a dystopian environment where polyester is still seen as futuristic. Discovering that he lives in essentially an organ farm, he grabs her of the bee-stung lips, Scarlett Johansson, and makes a break for the outside world. Car crashes and explosions soon follow. Absurdist narrow escapes reign supreme. Socio-political themes are brought up and then left unattended to cool on the slab.

Most heinous of all, while allegedly in the pursuit of verisimilitude, Ms. Johansson reportedly offered to go topless in one scene … and Mr. Bay shut her down. Die, bastard, die! You deserve your eventual fate of helming movie-of-the-week entries for The Lifetime Channel (one could only hope).

While the lackluster B.O. could be attributed to the strong holdover appeal of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Wedding Crashers and Fantastic Four, you can add to that the burn of tepid-to-poor word of mouth. The Island is a clunky affair with creaky dialogue, lazy internal logic and overly familiar tropes. MacGregor and Johansson lack chemistry, and things start blowing up far too late in the proceedings. I was tempted to swap theaters and watch War of the Worlds again, and I didn’t particularly like that one either.

Oddly enough, with Rob Zombie’s follow-up to House of a 1000 Corpses, both of this week’s debuts indulged heavily in ‘70s grave robbing, but The Devil’s Rejects did it as homage, while The Island did it in the hopes that its target audience was too young to remember the films it stole from. It may seem fresh to the target audience (the same audience targeted by the upcoming remake of Logan’s Run—yes, you can gag now—wherein the age for accepting a ride on The Carousel has been lowered down to 21), but for anyone born before 1970 this is reheated hash. Feeling old yet?