I just watched 'The Island' and I must say that this is probably Michael Bay's most all around entertaining film. 'The Rock' is a pretty loathesome film that gets incredible mileage from Sean Connery and Nicolas Cage, two very charismatic actors who pull a mild coup in seizing control of the film and provide just as much drive to the narrative as Michael Bay's fascist approach to Death Knell cinema. 'The Rock' was a fluke but an entertaining one in a way that his 'Bad Boys' movies and 'Armageddon' and 'Pearl Harbor' and even 'Transformers' could not: it made you forget how completely ludicrous the entire spectacle of the thing really is. Almost.
'The Island' does not replicate that success exactly in that I was always aware of how completely stupid the entire film really is, but in a way this is the first Michael Bay movie where that doesn't matter. More so than any of his previous films, this is destruction/disregard-for-human-life taken to such extremes, I was astonished it got made. If a more sensible craftsmanship like McTeirnan, Donner, or Reynolds helmed the thing, it might be a very good film. But in that Michael Bay can command any budgetary excess up front, it feels like a giant playground that he gets to manuever around in. He's nowhere adept enough a thinker to really mine this material for all that it's worth, but it has the most striking visuals of any Michael Bay movie to date. I would argue that this feature, absurd as it is, is the most accomplished film of his ouevre.
I say this because whether he knows this or not, 'The Island' is riddled with undercurrents of morality beneath the destruction. These two clones once divested from their compound wreck havoc throughout America unabated. The damage that they manage to do is somewhere between cartoonish and genuinely appalling until I just started laughing. I think 'The Island' is at least consciously aware of their quest for freedom. People die in 'The Island'. Not with any real gravity, but certainly not in a Ants Killed Off-Screen fashion that we've come too accustomed to in films.
I would also say that this is the first Michael Bay movie to make good use of his obnoxious boner for the military compound. They are the unseeing, uncaring enemy and until the painfully oblivious ending, they make for a fairly exemplary enemy, in a way indicting the Bay films before and after.
I recall Sonic talking about how 'The Day After Tomorrow' is something fun you can turn your brain off to. Like all of Michael Bay's crimes against sensory awareness, I couldn't entirely do this but this was the first time I didn't entirely mind what I was watching, for its purity and and fairly amazing stuntwork. It's a Frankenstein movie of two very different parts, the latter which is far less enjoyable than the previous; neither one are too terribly well done, but they exhibit enough striking visuals and marginal competence to entertain me. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are miscast and not terribly interesting, though the former fares much better in the second half.
The ending is complete bullshit and I got the feeling that they just couldn't be bothered to find something plausible and redeeming, so they just made something genuinely dire and half-formed seem redemptive.
A good time. I can't believe I'm saying this.
"If you are marching with white nationalists, you are by definition not a very nice person. If Malala Yousafzai had taken part in that rally, you'd have to say 'Okay, I guess Malala sucks now.'" ~ John Oliver