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"Michael Bay gets ripped on a lot, but he knows how to put together an action movie... Is it deep and life changing?  No.  But it's good fun."










The Island
The Masked Reviewer

The Masked Reviewer doesn't give spoilers in his reviews.  If you want to know whether this is a movie worth seeing without having the whole darned thing spoiled, you've come to the right place.  Unfortunately, Warner Brothers and Dreamworks decided that it would help drive people to the theater by completely ruining the "big surprise" of the movie in each and every trailer that they run. 

It's a good thing those folks didn't do the trailer for Citizen Kane -- they would've shown Rosebud in the first few seconds. 

So, in the interests of not spoiling for those lucky few of you who managed to miss the trailers, ads, and previews, there won't be too much to say about the story.  Suffice it to say, it's sci-fi and it's Michael Bay, so you shouldn't be expecting anything that's groundbreaking in terms of originality.  It's really standard sci-fi fare in terms of fact, this film draws very heavily from a certain other film, but mentioning that might give it away too.  Let's just say it's sci-fi.  You know whether or not you like sci-fi.

The film stars Ewan McGregor (who you may remember as Obi Wan from the most recent Star Wars films) and Scarlett Johansson (who you may remember as being a hot young actress).  She was also in Girl with the Pearl Earring (not to be confused with Girl with the Pearl Necklace, that was something completely different) and she was the voice of Mindy in the Spongebob Squarepants Movie.  Also, she was in The Perfect Score, Eight Legged Freaks, and Ghostworld.  Most notably, she was in Lost in Translation, notable because it was so boring.  But it wasn't her fault.

The two of them share an interesting type of chemistry.  They don't really seem to match up particularly well, but individually they're compelling to watch.  They both give performances that are better than should be expected in a Michael Bay movie.

You know director Michael Bay, right?  He does BIG MOVIES.  He likes special effects.  If your studio needs a summer blockbuster, you call Michael Bay.  He's got good hair.  He's the director who brought us The Rock, Bad Boys (1 & 2), and Armageddon.  Unfortunately, he also brought us Pearl Harbor, but in his defense, Ben Affleck was in that. 

Michael Bay gets ripped on a lot, but he knows how to put together an action movie.  That is to say, a BIG action movie.  You want a popcorn movie, go see one of his.  He has a great understanding of how to do cool stunts and blow things up in an impressive way.  He manages to get good performances out of actors in fairly ridiculous situations.  Is it deep and life changing?  No.  But it's good fun.

The film also stars Sean Bean (no relation to Mr. Bean), Djimon Hounsou (no relation to either Pokemon or Djion mustard), and Steve Buscemi.  If you don't know who Steve Buscemi is, you should go look him up and rent every one of his films.  They're not all good, but it seems like you should know his complete body of work, just in case you ever wind up on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."  (If you DO wind up on "Who Wants to Be a Millionare" and the final question IS about Steve Buscemi, you should send some money to the Masked's only right.)

Acting is good across the board, although Djimon Hounsou seems to sweat an awful lot.  Every scene he's in, his forehead is dripping, but everyone else is dry.  Did he not have a make-up guy?  No A/C in his trailer?  What's up with that? 

One thing that Michael Bay nailed was the production design.  It's sci-fi, so the film is filled with future technology.  It's in the "not-too-distant future", and there were a lot of cool gizmos that seemed like we could have them very soon.  That's always nice, if you're a geek. 

Of course, he did fall back on that "trick" that's popular nowadays in sci-fi films.  You take the hottest, newest car, just released this year, and you make it look all beat up and dirty.  See, that's how you show it's the future.  They did that with the new Beetle, that did that with the new Mini, and they did that in this film with the Chevy SSR.  Good marketing.

In fact, a number of products (er, future versions of current products) were marketed in the film.  It's been done before (even as far back as Stanley Kubrick's 2001) but it's always funny.

Some of the coolest stunts did wind up being a little too familiar -- in particular, the film's big car stunts, while impressive, were very similar to those found in Bad Boys 2.  You know, it's too bad they didn't call it Badder Boys, because then the third film could have been called Worst Boys.  And then, Even Worse Boys.  And, after they're both really old and can't find any other jobs, they could call it Bad Men.  That's a franchise that's loaded with clever movie title naming possibilities.

What else?  That's about it.  It's a fine summer flick; Michael Bay fans will be quite happy.  Fans of any of the stars will get more than they might expect from the acting.  Special effects are solid, the story is good ol' sci-fi classic material. 


Expectation from the Title: When Gilligan finds the Skipper in bed (hammock?) with Mary-Anne and Ginger, he kills everyone leaving him alone on the beach...with his madness.  A romantic comedy.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  It's amazing how good some people can look after jumping out of an exploding car.

The Pros: Fine stunts, decent sci-fi, cool production design, great cinematography.

The Cons: Very familiar story elements for sci-fi fans, almost seems like it's being preachy at times, but not really.

Ewen McGregor, Ewan MacGreggor, Scarlet Johansen, Michael Bey, Steve Bushemi, Shawn Bean, all right here!

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