Love him or hate him. That seems to be the way it is with Michael Bay and his mega-action movies. Before the 'Transformers' movie series, Bay directed 'The Island' which was a much different film than we were accustomed to seeing from the original proponent of Blu-ray.
'The Island' is the story of a clone named Lincoln (Ewan McGregor), who, unbeknownst to him, lives in a futuristic cloning facility. The clones there all believe the same shared lie, that a massive infection wiped out a large percentage of life on earth, and they are the only uninfected survivors, waiting for their turn to go live on "the island," the last unspoiled piece of nature where they can rebuild the human race. Lincoln is different from all others in that he actually questions his surroundings, wondering things like "Where the heck do all the new survivors keep arriving from?!" and "Yo, does this friggin' island even exist?" Through a twist of events, Lincoln eventually learns what is really going on: He and his friends are all waiting to be killed and have their organs harvested for their genetic twins on the outside. When Lincoln's friend Jordan (Scarlett Johansson) wins the lottery and is selected to go "live on the island," Lincoln tells her the truth about their existence, and the two of them escape to the outside world, hoping to find freedom. They end up in a race against hired mercenary Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou) who is hired to silence Lincoln and Jordan and preserve the secret of the facility.
I've always felt 'The Island' was a pleasant surprise from Mr. Bay. He really showed a different side to his directing style. Sure, 'The Island' is full of some explosive action sequences, but the big difference with this film is that there's also a compelling story leading up to and driving the action, rather than the usual Bay style of "blow things up and let things fall into place." 'The Island' can really be looked at as two different movies, the first taking place in the facility when something seems wrong but we don't know exactly what it is. The second takes place in the outside world where Lincoln and Jordan are soon fighting for their lives. The direction feels very different for the two halves as well. Known for his quick cutting sequences, fast camera movement, and frequent close-up shots, Bay takes a much different approach in the first part. Shots are a bit more drawn out, movement is slower. Story is clearly the star here, and Bay does a great job not getting in the way of that. Then we get to the second half on the outside and Bay returns to his signature style of filming. But again, this feels very natural to the progression of the story, the start of the film builds up to the action.
Worth noting is the cast. McGregor provides a great performance as Lincoln and the real world version of Lincoln on the outside world. He is subtly very funny but is also able to provide a serious performance. The supporting cast is also very strong featuring the talents of Sean Bean, Steve Buscemi, Michael Clark Duncan, and Djimon Hounsou.
Overall, 'The Island' is an entertaining movie, with a great story. Bay shows that he has a bit more to his direction style than just blowing things up. McGregor and Johansson make a fun onscreen duo, and the supporting cast is just as entertaining. If you haven't already seen 'The Island,' give it a watch, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised. If nothing else, the action sequences are worth the price of admission.
'The Island' makes it's domestic debut on Blu-ray with a stunning 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 transfer framed at 2.40:1.
The strength of this release is the bright array of color. We start off in the cloning facility featuring many whites and grays and then end up on the outside with bright colors in everything from the desert landscape to the colorful futuristic city. Blacks are mostly inky and the blue in the sky and water appears deep. Detail is also very strong in facial features and textures.
Fitting in with the established visual style of Michael Bay 'The Island' also features a thin layer of grain throughout. My only complaint is that a few close-ups seemed to be a bit digitally washed out. Aside from that, the transfer is mostly free of any digital artifacts and really holds true to the intended visual viewing style of the movie.
This is a top rate transfer, one that fans of the film will be very pleased with.
Keeping on pace with the excellent video transfer, Paramount has also provided 'The Island' with an outstanding DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track.
Boy, does this track deliver the goods in the heavy action sequences. Bass effects are frequently featured as well as heavy surround effects in everything from cars crashing all around you to bullets flying all over the place. Dialogue is also clear and centered.
At times things may seem a tad bit shaky on the low end, but overall this a demo worthy disc and exactly what you would expect from a Michael Bay soundtrack.
'The Island' arrives on Blu-ray with a fairly small amount of extras for fans. All are recycled from the previous DVD release and all are presented in standard definition.
Overall, 'The Island' is a strong release from Paramount. The video and audio are near demo worthy and leave the old DVD release in the dust. Aside from the audio visual presentation, we also a get the same extras from the DVD release, plus a decent audio commentary track from Mr. Michael Bay. As far as Bay movies go, I would put 'The Island' towards the top of his list, it shows us he can direct an action movie driven by a good story, and the result is very entertaining. Fans should be very happy with this Blu-ray. This release comes with an easy recommendation.