Sunday, December 18, 2005

Island Style

After The Polar Express, I saw another supersized film, The Island, in which rich people and guys with British accents screw up everything, then let nothing stand in their way to remain in a position to continue screwing up everything. Yes, I know: It's called Capitalism; but I'm not sure how much we can learn about its perils from Michael (Bad Boys/Pearl Harbor/Armageddon/The Rock) Bay. I didn't know much about this movie beforehand, except that it was a big-budget SF affair with A Secret. So I thought it might be fun, and avoided trailers and articles and TV Guide Channel featurettes and so on. I wanted to be surprised.

Be careful what you wish for. While the idea of clones for spare parts has been done a few times--many times in print SF, and occasionally on film, as with the whiz-bang of The Sixth Day (2000)--which proved that two Arnolds equals two times the Arnold acting power, which is more than one time the acting power, but less than three times. Ahem; where was I? Oh yeah: clones as spare parts. The idea has real potential for drama and dread, if only because I'll betcha a nickel it'll happen by mid-century. If it can be done it will be done, and all that. Unfortunately, The Island only proves that such an idea will have glitches, goofs n gaffes--but no moral nausea will be suffered, just a kind of one-upsmanship as the clones supplant the originals, as ready to live it up on yachts and dispatch their enemies as the evil accented millionaires who made them. This is a Bay movie all the way (once again validating the auteur theory), in that it substitutes the survival imperative for the moral one. Of course Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson shouldn't be killed. But dozens of innocent bystanders are, to insure that My Pretty Clonies live to flash brighter-than-white smiles another day.

The above seems a bit snippy, but the longer this long movie ran, the less I sided with the clones. Not that the quasi-cannibalistic capitalists were any better. It's just that nobody paused to mull over anything; they simply zipped around in impossibly engineered sports cars until the original capitalists were impaled and the new ones ensconced on the sundrenched deck of a yacht. Somewhere along the way the Theme of Freedom glances along the surface of the movie, like a fleeting finger on one's cheek. But it is freedom without anything worthwhile to do with it, and no earned victories. Just fortunate explosions.

By the way ...

1. I am, for better or worse, stuck with a ghost image of Leonardo DiCaprio whenever I think of this movie. That's right, because Leo starred in The Beach (2000). Mongo like movies.

2. Here's a picture of Michael Bay. Just thought you should know.

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