a little east of reality

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

movie review: the island

##the part without any spoilers##

Monday I won tickets to see a preview session of The Island...that night. A super fast phone call to Little Drummer Girl (who lately prefers Gangsta Girl) got me a taker of the other ticket, and we raced into the city after work (school) to check it out.

When interviewed about The Island, Scarlett Johansson said that best of all she liked the simple love story...and the explosions. ^_^ This is a pretty good sum-up of the surface details of the movie. A little innocent love, a little mystery to solve, a few absolutely 'not for the squeamish' injuries (think: nail gun), and a damn fine car chase (except in this case the cars are a Mack truck and a jet-powered motorbike). The casting is great, including the support cast, featuring Steve Buscemi, who always plays a surly wise-cracker with style and Michael Clarke Duncan, who appears briefly but tears your heart out (ironically) with his gut-wrenching performance.

And did I mention explosions?

The beauty of the movie though, is that there is so much to think about. Though I'd rather go into more detail in the spoiler section below, I love the fact that you can go watch this film as an action flick (with added romance) and then come out and spend the next two (five, ten) hours talking about really deep and interesting moral and ethical dilemmas involving power, science, authority, and about the value and meaning of life (in both the literal and figurative sense). To me this takes the movie up a level or two and makes it one I'll probably own one day.

4 stars: enjoy it at face value, but plan a coffee shop visit afterwards for all the ideas that'll be spinning through your mind.

##the part WITH SPOILERS##

Movies like this have been done before: the world is not as we perceive it to be (Dark City, The Matrix, 13th Floor, Existenz)...and you know something is up the moment you realise that everyone's name is an alpha-numeric code (Lincoln Six-Echo, Jordan Two-Delta). But this movie is not really about the creation of an artificial existence, except in the (Gattica-like) details. It's really about a myriad of issues concerning the value of human life and what consitutes a human life. Is a cloned human really human? If so, is its life worth the same amount as a non-manufactured human's life? What would we do if our life, or our youth, or our beauty, could be bought with another person's life? No self-defence claims here - just a simple equation: you can have this, if you allow another to die...and it's legal (kind of...at least you won't be held accountable for it). What do you do?

It's even about what we do with power over other sentient beings. If something is deemed non-human, what are our responsibilities toward it, if any? What to we owe to things we create? What is it about power over others that brings out the worst in people? And there are plenty more questions where they came from. Enjoy.