A Conscientious Objection to The Island
My friend R.'s lengthy-yet-wonderful review of The Island as emailed to me. Well played, R. Well played.
I wasn't expecting it to be good. I knew Michael Bay produced it, so I was ready for some big plot holes and lots of explosions. Which, there were, in spades. For clarity, I have divided my issues with this movie into three areas:Would you judge me if I said I still wanted to see it?
Problem Area #1: The anti-science propaganda machine.
To be fair, this section is not about me being nitpicky because I'm going to be a scientist, saying "They used sodium perchoride when they should have used sodium perchlorate! Imbeciles!" No, no, I care not about such things. I also don't mind that the movie take an anti-cloning stance, even though I disagree. What bothered me is that instead of letting the basis of the movie speak for itself, every over-the-top nightmare cloning scenario was used to beat into your head that cloning is bad! Bad, I say!
For example, Clone A is created as a surrogate mother for her "sponsor" and believes that when she gives birth, she gets a free pass to the "Island". Ewan McGregor gets a peek at her giving birth, due to a series of totally unlikely events that involve him climbing a ladder that inexplicably leads him out of a tile in the middle of a laboratory hallway. After the baby is born, you would think that the smart thing to do, for both the sponsor and the cloning business, is to keep the clone alive, in case she is needed later. Well, you would be wrong. They decide to kill her immediately with some sort of evil green viscous goo that when injected IV, causes her to have a seizure and die a fairly violent and unnecessary death.
Michael Clark Duncan also wins a pass to the Island. He undergoes open heart surgery using a mean-looking bone saw and, what's this? The anesthesia wears off midway during the surgery! Fueled by the adrenaline rush of waking up in the middle of having your chest ripped open, MCD jumps off the table and runs down the hall, trailing all sorts of wires and tubes, with an open chest cavity. Ok, the adrenaline thing is possible. What gets me is that instead of getting him back with high tech tranq darts, they shoot him with some sort of weird grappling hooks that attach under his skin and pull him backward, and as he claws the tile floor screams, "I want to live! I don't want to die!!! Aarghhh!" Oh, come on. Grappling hooks?? This is apparently what happens when you clone people. Go figure.
Problem Area #2: The clones, who have zero knowledge of the outside world, have more common sense then everyone else in the movie put together.
This is where I really started to have serious problems with the movie. Ewan and Scarlett have lived in what is essentially an underground cave their whole lives, yet can elude a team of elite Marines for days. The owner of the cloning company has enough advanced technology that he can analyze Ewan's urine for nutrient imbalances as it hits the toilet, but never thinks that some sort of implanted tracking devices might be a good idea.
The leader of the aforementioned elite Marines is the worst possible person for the job of tracking the clones. The main requirement for this job is subtlety, which he presumably doesn't know the meaning of. He kills civilians in train stations, blows up buildings, sends armed helicopters after trucks on the highway...the list goes on. There is no media coverage of this rampage, and no one seems interested as to why this could be going on.
Merrick, the owner of the cloning company, also succumbs to this crazy over-reaction syndrome. Another clone besides Ewan starts asking questions, but instead of trying to manipulate him and win him over (seemingly a fairly easy task, as the clones are bred to be docile and trusting...Ewan was an anomaly), he decides to attack him with a giant syringe and throw $5 million down the drain. (the price of each clone). Not the best businessman, that Merrick.
Problem Area #3: Events occur that are simply beyond any rational person's ability to suspend their disbelief.
This is sort of a catch-all category, as it includes random tidbits like:
1. Scarlett and Ewan drive a motorcycle through a building, then proceed to fall 70 stories (this is specifically mentioned) and are both fine. No, wait, I take that back...Ewan suffers a sexy cut to his forehead. I believe this was one of the times I actually laughed out loud in the theater.
2. Scarlett and Ewan are hiding on the back of a truck which is hauling giant pipes of some sort. The Marine Team of Incompetence is after them with armed helicopters and ground vehicles. Ewan unclips one strap, and the several ton pipes start flying off the truck and taking out the Marines. Even stranger, the truck driver DOES NOT STOP DRIVING OR EVEN SLOW DOWN.
I could go on, but I'll spare you. Only watch this movie if you are feeling particularly masochistic or are at least sort of drunk.