DVD Review: The Island
Release Date: December 13, 2005
· Michael Bay
· Ewan McGregor
· Scarlett Johansson
· Sean Bean
· Djimon Hounsou
· Michael Clarke Duncan
· Official Site
· Cinema Spider
by Scott Juba
Published: December 22, 2005
On the DVD’s action sequences featurette, Michael Bay says he told the writers, “Don’t waste time with the action. Just put ‘action’ and I’ll fill it in.” The problem with some of Bay’s past films, however, is that the writers didn’t waste time creating a compelling narrative either. Thankfully, with talented screenwriters Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Caspian Tredwell-Owen responsible for the script of “The Island,” it features an intelligent, well-plotted story that serves as the perfect complement to Bay’s high-octane action.
“The Island” tells the story of Lincoln (McGregor) and Jordan (Johansson), two residents of a high security compound that houses the survivors of a supposed contamination that destroyed most of the world’s population. Every night, compound officials hold a lottery, the winner of which gets to live on the only island that was not affected by the contamination.
Lincoln becomes suspicious of the compound’s officials and discovers they have hidden motives that threaten the compound’s residents. Together, he and Jordan embark on a journey to discover their true identities and save the lives of the others.
From there, the story progresses at a rapid pace, intertwining plot twists with breathtaking action sequences. At times, Bay becomes over-indulgent with the action scenes, which forces the running time to be twenty minutes too long. The charisma of McGregor and Johansson helps to mask this flaw, and Sean Bean’s cunning portrayal of a greedy villain makes a nice addition to the cast.
Aside from the film itself, the DVD’s bonus material is unfortunately slim. The disc’s lone featurette details how the filmmakers brought the action sequences to life. With a running time of approximately 15 minutes, the featurette gives a step-by-step breakdown of how the highway chase scene and the scene in which the massive “R” crashes off the building were created. To Bay’s credit, he relied on very few CGI effects to produce these stunning scenes.
In addition to offering comments from Bay and his stunt and visual effects teams, the featurette also gives an actor’s perspective on filming action scenes. Djimon Hounsou and Michael Clarke Duncan each provide their views, but surprisingly, McGregor and Johansson are left out.
Michael Bay’s audio commentary is the only other bonus material on the disc. He makes some interesting comments about the actors, calling Johansson a “daring” actress and mentioning a quote by Steven Spielberg that compares McGregor to a “young Harrison Ford.” Bay also comments that he likes how the story utilizes a “slow reveal,” a storytelling technique that none of his previous films employed.
On the whole, “The Island” is one of the best action films of 2005. While the DVD would have benefited from more bonus material, it is still well worth purchasing.