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For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.

photo caption:
IT FEELS LIKE I'VE GOT SOMETHING IN MY EYE: In the future, clones are fitted with tracking devices so their movements can be followed. Here a clone is getting sensors placed in his body through his eyeballs. end caption.

The Island: Michael Bay Shifts Gears in Sophisticated Science Fiction Adventure

Movie Review by Kam Williams

The name Michael Bay conjures up images of action filled summer spectaculars, with mammoth detonations in outer space, panoramic battle sequences, or chase scenes with cars careening off cliffs. The director's resume is filled with special effects extravaganzas such as Armageddon, The Rock, Bad Boys 1 & 2, and Pearl Harbor.

The Island is a departure for Bay, because the film places as great an emphasis on the plotline as it does on pyrotechnics. The picture is based on a short story by Caspian Tredwell-Owen originally set in the late 21st century, however, the screen version takes place in the future about 15 or 20 years from now.

The tale opens in a self-contained, sterile complex, inhabited by hundreds of child-like, identically dressed adults who wait patiently to learn whether they've won the latest lottery. The "winners" of this contest are relocated to the world's only pathogen-free zone capable of supporting human life after an event occurred which almost wiped out the Earth's population.

According to the explanation circulated by their benefactors, an ecological disaster killed everyone on Earth except those in this antiseptic environment and those lucky enough to be sent to a safe oasis referred to as "The Island." So, other than praying to be picked to participate in the repopulation of the planet, there's not much left to do but heed the Orwellian advice pumped in soothing tones over the public address system spouting mind control truisms like, "A healthy person is a happy person," "You are very special," and "You want to go to The Island."

Amongst this obedient herd of zombies, Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) and Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson) somehow find each other, despite receiving repeated warnings to "Watch your proximity," since males and females are forbidden to have any tactile contact. The pair forge an emotional bond anyway, and Lincoln's curiosity leads to a shocking discovery which alters their reality irreversibly.

WARNING: Spoilers follow, although the information below is readily discernible from the theatrical trailers and television commercials.

Lincoln has learned that no island exists, and that he, Jordan, and the other internees are all "pod" people, hatched clones whose organs will be harvested. This well-concealed plot development is divulged about 45 minutes or so into the movie. At this juncture, what had been a brain teaser turns into a typical Michael Bay production.

Lincoln and Jordan escape from the compound only to find themselves in the middle of nowhere, lost in a dusty, godforsaken desert outside of Tucson, Arizona. They make their way to a local bar where they see a familiar face (Steve Buscemi) nursing a beer. The guilt-ridden guard reveals details about the hoax and offers to help, warning them that they are in grave danger and must flee for their lives.

A posse led by Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) is dispatched to bring them both back, dead or alive, and these bounty hunters are not averse to blowing-up, setting afire, or otherwise decimating anyone or anything that gets in their way. Once The Island gets in high gear, the pace of this roller coaster ride becomes too furious to remember that it all started out as an adventure addressing some pertinent ethical issues about the pitfalls of stem cell research, cloning, and bio-genetics.

When it's all over, you wonder what happened to the film you started out watching. Supporting cast includes Michael Clarke Duncan who has a cameo role as the black guy who is always the first person to die in a scary science fiction movie.

Excellent (3 and 1/2 stars). Rating: PG-13 for profanity, intense action sequences, and sexuality. Running time: 127 minutes. Studio: Dreamworks Pictures.

For more movie summaries, see Kam's Kapsules.


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