Monday, February 13, 2006

Losing the lottery

Imagine a world where, in order to keep you docile and obedient, The Powers That Be create a fantastic tale of a paradise you will go to when you leave behind all of your friends and loved ones with the hope that one day your friends and loved ones would join you in this paradise someday.

Now imagine that instead of going on to this wonderful paradise, you instead merely cease to be.

This is the fantastic science fictional world posited in The Island, the latest Michael Bay action extravaganza and first financial failure.

Structuring an anti-religious parable around a popular Straw Man argument of the religious right, the raising of clones for organ harvest, is something in the neighborhood of brilliant, and quite a refreshing change from the Hollywood movies, such as the abominable Matrix series, that blindly assume religion is inherent good.

Unfortunately, the problems with Bay films are all here. The plot is torn from other works, notably The Clonus Horror (I've also heard the novel Spares by Michael Marshall Smith mentioned). The broadly saturated light and hypercorrected colors are in overabundance. The editing seems more restrained than many of his earlier works, but not be nearly enough.

The actors are all game, however. Although, interestingly, Ewan McGregor is noticably better at playing innocent and "fifteen" than Scarlett Johansson, although honestly I thought she was quite charming.

The story is interesting. The energy level is high. And it really feels like Bay is genuinely trying to be more than he has be, which is pretty admirable in itself. Unfortunately, it being considered such a failure may keep Bay from reaching so far in the future, not an especially good sign for Transformers.

But, what I'm left with more than anything is the wonderful cynicism. As Steve Buscemi's McCord says "God's the one that ignores you."

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