A/V Room









The Island - US reaction

Compiled by: Jack Foley

MICHAEL Bay's latest big action blockbuster, The Island, failed to top the US Box Office over the July 22-25 weekend (2005), having been beaten by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

The futuristic action thriller, starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson, only debuted at number four in the US box office, taking in roughly $12.1 million and being beaten by current releases, Wedding Crashers and Fantastic Four.

The word from US critics was also lukewarm, with many slating it for being another dumb piece of cinema from Bay.

Variety, for instance, wrote that 'in his latest exercise in sensory overkill, producer-helmer Michael Bay takes on the weighty moral conundrums of human cloning, resolving them in a storm of bullets, car chases and more explosions than you can shake a syringe at'.

While Newsday opined: "The Island, which belabors itself for about 45 minutes before you have any idea what's afoot, is a clone itself - of Coma, a '70s medical thriller that once seemed so far-fetched it had to be sci-fi."

The Chicago Tribune, meanwhile, felt that it was 'classic Bay, except it's missing the crass director's fine-tuned rhythm, his feel for adrenaline, his breakneck edits and sense of humor'.

And the Washington Post warned: "If you find yourself at The Island I have only three words of advice: Vote yourself off."

There were some positives, however. Hollywood Reporter wrote that it 'starts off an aggressively derivative sci-fi thriller, then morphs into an above-average chase melodrama'.

And the San Francisco Chronicle felt that 'on its own terms, The Island is just fine'.

The New York Daily News felt that 'theaters showing Michael Bay's futuristic thriller The Island won't be offering any money-back guarantees. They just need to be sure they have enough popcorn on hand'.

While the Chicago Sun-Times wrote that 'the first half of Michael Bay's new film is a spare, creepy science fiction parable, and then it shifts into a high-tech action picture. Both halves work. Whether they work together is a good question'.

The New York Times was also a fan, writing 'this lavish, exhaustingly kinetic film is smarter than you might expect, and at the same time dumber than it could be'.

But Entertainment Weekly felt that 'The Island begins with a whimper of interest as a cool-hued, cautionary exploration of the ethics of cloning, and ends, in a hail of product placement, with a dumb bang'.

And the Philadelphia Inquirer lamented that 'The Island could be read as a metaphor for societal ills if it weren't so shamelessly dumb'.

But the final word goes to the Houston Chronicle, which concludes this overview with the comment: "Its tale was more tame and thoughtful when Steven Spielberg, having done the related Artificial Intelligence, pitched it to Bay. But Bay, being Bay, punched it up, hiring script doctors to mainline some action."

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