Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The Island: A review

Last night I dragged my husband to the movies to see a show that I wanted to see but that he had no interest in seeing. Invariably, this ends badly. However, last night it wasn’t so bad. He didn’t like it overly, but then again, neither did I.

I remember my college film and cinema professor saying that the sci-fi films of the 1950s and ‘60s mirrored the public’s fears. Think The Blob and The Thing From Another Planet and fears of the atomic bomb, radiation and nuclear fallout; Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the faceless masses of the communist proletariat. The Island, the film we saw last night, follows in the grand tradition of it’s sci-fi forefathers, extrapolating the effects of human cloning to the point into the distant future where there exists a huge underground clone farm under the Arizona dessert. The elite of society can elect to have a clone of themselves developed, hatched and raised in this underground facility and then later, can “harvest” the parts they need such as a new kidney or heart…or their “policy,” as the clones are called, can bear a child for them.

Among the community of unknowing clones are Ewan MacGregor and Scarlett Johansen, portraying Lincoln Six Echo and Jordan Two Delta, respectively. The community, a seeming utopia sheltering its occupants from “the contamination” has no idea that they are merely awaiting harvest. Instead, they wait eagerly for their names to be drawn in a lottery to win a prized place on “The Island,” the last place on earth free from “the contamination.”

The Island blends the more successful and disturbing elements of Shirley Jackson’s The Lottery and Lois Lowry’s The Giver in with the hallmarks of modern science fiction and action films. Because of its PG-13 rating, the film is happily free of gore and gratuitous sex but it is still somewhat violent. The plot is farfetched and (I’m sad to admit) neither actor made a stellar performance. In fact, I was very disappointed to notice MacGregor’s loveable Scottish accent conspicuously missing for most of the film (it’s a plot tool, but still…I was bummed).

I give this film an overall rating of 2 ½ stars out of 4. It wasn’t bad. But it wasn’t good either.

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