Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Dialogue, product placement sink ‘The Island’

The latest thriller from Michael Bay (“Armageddon,” “Pearl Harbor”), “The Island” is GQ on celluloid — a glossy, expensive, sleek star vehicle, full of overbearing product placement and occasional misogyny.

Set in 2019, the first half of “The Island” introduces us to Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson), two members of an enormous underground society. They live in constant hope that they’ll win a trip to the title locale, reportedly the only place left on earth untouched by lethal contamination. Lincoln and Jordan soon discover that the world is actually not contaminated and, more importantly, that they’ve been bred as “parts-suppliers” to rich people in the real world. The duo proceed to get pissed off about their Orwellian situation, break out of their prison in the middle of the Arizona desert and head to futuristic Los Angeles to blow some stuff up and eventually have sex. Did you expect anything less from Bay?

Bay is known for his bloated-budget commercial garbage, and “The Island” delivers on these counts. See the movie for the crazy stunts, deafening explosions and wild chase scenes, not for nuanced cinematography or character development. Poor direction aside, both McGregor and Johansson manage to deliver somewhat believable performances — an impressive feat in a Bay films, normally full of clunky wooden characters and no chemistry.

“The Island” rips off several legendary science fiction films (“Blade Runner,” “The Matrix”) and still manages to suck. Part of its problem lies in the awful script by newcomer Caspian Tredwell-Owen, whose cliche dialogue lends itself to well-deserved eye-rolling. A new low is reached when Jordan whispers to Lincoln, post-coitus, “There really is an island — it’s us!” Blech.

And in addition to having awful dialogue and liberal “idea-borrowing”, the film managed to offend my inner feminist as well. Johansson consistently plays sidekick to McGregor’s hero, taking care of smaller problems and wishing him good luck before he goes off to do something bad-ass and important. While she is arguably the more talented actor, Johansson plays a secondary and often over-sexualized role in the film.

If you can get past the terrible script, the not-so-subtle advertising blitz, the ripped-off narrative and a slightly offensive attitude toward women, “The Island” is a fun movie.

— Nick Anderman

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881
Dialogue, product placement sink ‘The Island’