My Rating: 7/10
Rotten Tomatometer: 40% (a little harsh)

PLOT: A man (Ewan McGregor) living in a futuristic colony in the wake of a global contamination begins to question his sterile existence when his friend is chosen to go to the Island, the last uncontaminated place on Earth.

FULL DISCLOSURE: “The Island” is cobbled together with plot elements from a number of previous films: The Matrix, Logan’s Run, Total Recall, Blade Runner, The Truman Show, and, in its vision of near-future technology, Minority Report. There are gaping plot holes, too numerous to detail here, but which mostly occur to you AFTER the movie’s over, not during. The characters, while complicated, are not complex, if you get my meaning. Their actions and thought processes turn on a dime according to the whims of the screenplay, not logic. So far, these are all hallmarks of your typical Michael Bay film.

But there’s something about “The Island” that saves it from being trash. It’s undeniably junk food, but it’s the good stuff…name brand, not generic. The story, for me, was unexpectedly poignant, as these poor souls try to figure out what (if anything) is wrong with their protected existence. The screenplay, while putting the characters through a preposterous wringer, is still more interesting than anything Bay has directed before or since. And, if I’m being honest, the action scenes are LOADS of fun to watch, especially a late freeway chase that, believe it or not, is easy to follow (as compared to the jittery, choppy chase scenes of earlier Bay films).

So, full disclosure: “The Island” is not a masterpiece. But it’s probably the best science fiction film Michael Bay has ever done, retaining his hyperactive style, but slightly restrained…call it “Bay Lite.” The fact that it tanked at the box office is telling: he tried something a little different, and moviegoers condemned him for it. Alas.

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