We don’t run scoop reviews of upcoming films for fear of liars, people assuming it’s the opinion of CHUD.com, and because we don’t have a readership that does that kind of stuff. Actually, we do, but they usally just email it to Harry Knowles and treat us like the chopped liver we are.
That said, there are exceptions. Today, for example.
A guy we know "in the real world" saw Michael Bay’s The Island the other day and after getting tired of all the Bay bashing, decided to take matters into his own hands. I’d prefer to use his real name, but since he’s in the business, I’ll just call him Dan. He’s very tall. Here’s his comments on The Island:
"Saw Michael Bay’s new film, THE ISLAND, last night.
Here’s two words I never thought I’d say in the same breath: Michael Bay & thought-provoking. Now, personally, I don’t believe that every movie HAS to stimulate thinking after you’ve seen it. That’s a novelty that some great films have. It’s also something that a lot of people strive to inject into pictures that don’t need it. For instance, the pretentious move of getting Ang Lee to direct THE HULK only resulted in killing what could have been one of the biggest franchises in town. Blockbusters are powered by general audiences in the red states mainly comprised of teenagers and young adults aged 13-30 who go to the local multiplex on a week-end to be entertained.
Michael Bay has always made movies for these people.
I know a lot of people who frequent your site are not his fans. Maybe they’re just jealous because they themselves are failed, or fledgling film-makers who haven’t had a taste of the success Michael has. Maybe they can’t stand the fact the he doesn’t look like Kevin Smith. Maybe they cringe at the kind of partying he gets to do, the cars he drives, the women he screws… I don’t know what to tell you.
I am a Michael Bay fan. BAD BOYS, THE ROCK, and ARMAGEDDON all kicked serious ass. But I guess when you’re a billion dollar director at the ripe old age of 33, you start to crave more. You want to be taken seriously by your peers. Spielberg just had SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. Cameron just had TITANIC. So Disney suggested to Michael Bay the possibility of doing a love story set against the back-drop of PEARL HARBOR.
There in lies the first problem that haunted that film.
Spielberg wanted to tell a story about a group of men risking their lives to save one (reversing the the idea that the lives of the many outweigh the lives of the few, or the one) set against the backdrop of D-Day, where he really showed how war is hell. For all it’s B.O. success powered by it’s romance, Cameron was at first seduced by the true story of TITANIC because of it’s tragic irony with regard to pitting man against the machine (a theme that his consistently shown up in his work). PEARL HARBOR was conceptualized to be a blockbuster, to be an awards magnet, to be a classic. Ultimately, it is a good, but not great film; a movie that I liked, but did not love. It’s a picture with flaws mired in it’s own ambition.
After that, Bay did perhaps the first, and only film thus far in his career, that he was not passionate about: BAD BOYS 2. Under pressure from Sony, Jerry Bruckheimer, his agents, and a now super-star Will Smith, he caved in. Not because a great draft for the sequel had been turned in. But because there was availability in both Smith and Lawrence’s schedule to reunite them. Because Sony needed another big gun for their summer. And because Bay was convinced to do the film to solidify a franchise for himself.
Now, some directors loose their passion when they’re making films that they’re not into. Yan De Bont worked his ass off on SPEED 2 and THE HAUNTING; they both failed. When I saw Tomb Raider 2, there would be no way to tell that it was helmed by the same man who directed SPEED and TWISTER. But when Michael Bay’s on a set, he’s incapable of just coasting. BAD BOYS 2 features some of the greatest action in any film I’ve ever scene. The script may have been cut and pasted together from umpteenth drafts from numerous writers with varied takes. Had he made a great film, it would’ve tripled the originals gross. Instead BAD BOYS 2 just about more than doubled it. I heard Bruckheimer wanted it to be shorter. I heard Will Smith was taken back by how violent it was. In many ways, the films run time, rating, budget, and script is a big fuck you by Michael Bay to everyone who pressured him into making it.
Meanwhile, he was off producing hit horror remakes of films like TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACCRE and AMITYVILLE HORROR through his platinum dunes shingle, which has run circles around Silver & Zemckis’ Dark Castle and is giving Sam Raimi’s Ghost House a run for its money.
And somewhere along the way, Steven Spielberg read a script that made him wish he hadn’t done MINORITY REPORT. So if he wasn’t going to direct it, who would he get to do it for him. M. Night Shyamalan can take that issue of newsweek with him on the cover being called the next Spielberg, roll it up, and shove it up his ass. What’s more, outside of a film he’s directed, Spielberg has never been more involved in shepherding a project at Dreamworks than next year’s TRANSFORMERS. And now whose directing that? One Michael Bay. Seems like someone has found his heir apparent.
THE ISLAND will garner the best reviews, and most critical acclaim, of any film Michael Bay has ever made. It will convert detractors of his into fans.
It is a topical film; in a day and age where stem cell research is a controversial issue it scrutinizes the virtues of cloning and for-tells a dangerous morality tale. People on both sides of the debate will be able to point to this movie to try and make their case.
In a summer full of remakes, updates of TV shows, sequels, comic book adaptations, etc… THE ISLAND is a piece of original material that will stand on its own. It’s not a brand-name pre-existing property with a built-in fan base that will open to 100 million. Instead sci-fi fans, action aficionados seeking a summer ride from the director of THE ROCK and ARMAGEDDON, and people who find Scarlett Johannson sexy and and are comfortable with Ewan McGregor from TRAINSPOTTING, STAR WARS films, and MOULIN ROGUE making a star tun, will power THE ISLAND’s opening week-end to high 20s/low 30s. And then word-of-mouth will get it easily over 100.
Never the less, we are in a world, where Peter Jackson is doing KING KONG. Sam Raimi, SPIDER-MAN. Bryan Singer, moving from X-MEN to SUPERMAN, Chris Nolan, BATMAN. Even that hack Brett Ratner has tried to get on everything from SUPERMAN to MISSION IMPOSSIBLE 3 to the next X-MEN. But this is the film Michael Bay had to make before he could do TRANSFORMERS. So that next summer, before a room full of geeks at the San Diego Comic Con, on a panel for TRANSFORMERS, he’ll have earned more than their respect, but their anticipation for his movie. So that in every interview he does on the press junket for THE ISLAND, he will recount the story of how Spielberg approached him for the project and now they’re working on TRANSFORMERS together.
The film owes it’s first act to sci-fi fare like LOGANS RUN (and makes a remake of that film pointless) and even Lucas’ THX 1138. We’re in a clean, spacious, locked-down society that is based on control. Alleged survivors of a world-wide contamination that has rendered much of the earth uninhabitable must stay healthy (eat right, exercise) while they await a chance to win a lottery that admits them to go THE ISLAND, the last haven left on the planet; their providence.
But in reality, unbeknownst to them, they are in-fact clones of the rich, famous, and powerful in the outside world. To win the lottery means that your counterpart needs something from you: your heart, your liver, or some other organ. Ewan McGregor is Lincoln Six, who yearns to know more about the outside world.
His curiosity gets the better of him, and he stumbles on to the truth. But before escaping, he has to save Scarlett’s Jordan Two, who thinks she’s going to THE ISLAND, when in actuality, her counter-part on the outside is in a coma after a car crash and needs organs; hence she’s won the "rigged" lottery.
But once the two escape, the rabbit hole goes deeper.
It seems people on the outside world who’ve had clones made are simply told that their copies are in vegetative states. They don’t know about this Utopian society and the system of control otherwise known as the hope of going to THE ISLAND. So now it’s up to Lincoln and Jordan to expose this conspiracy to the world and free the others clones. But it won’t be easy. Sean Bean’s character, a scientist with a god complex, who runs the facility has hired former French Legionnaire Dijimon Hounsou and his team of mercenaries (military cut outs recruited from Spec-Ops such as Navy Seals and Delta Force) to contain the matter.
From here on, we’re thrust into the most grounded, realistic, vision of the future I’ve ever seen on screen. And one that’s chock-full of Michael Bay action: Car chases, shoot-outs, and explosions. There’s a speeder bike chase better than the one in RETURN OF THE JEDI set against a Phillip K. Dick like setting. Lincoln confronts his counter-part in the real world only to be betrayed by him and there’s a face-off between them that John Woo couldn’t have done better when he was at the top of his game. And don’t forget the comic relief provided by Steve Buscemi with funny lines like, "You know when you want something really bad and close your eyes at night and wish for it — God’s the one who ignores you."
I don’t want to give too much away. I wasn’t going to write a review. But I read one on AICN that was only mildly positive (everyone is entitled to their
opinion) but was also a blatant lie by an obvious film snob.
There was not a POLITE applause at the end of the film. In fact, there was a rousing one. Actually, throughout the film, people were clapping at key scenes. The reviewer mentioned how he walked up to Michael Bay to ask about TRANSFORMERS and also brought up seeing Katzenberg, Parkes, etc… so obviously we’re dealing with a disgruntled fledgling film-maker who talks the talk. The kind of jerk who went to film school for four years and got brainwashed by a bunch of professors who epitomize the saying that those who can’t, teach. The type of degenrates who instruct their students to revere Peter Biskinds "Easy Rider, Raging Bulls" like it’s some kind of bible."
So there you have it.