Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Film Cemetery

Case Study #15

Where we explore the more 
obscure movies that bombed
Absolutely fantastic stunts!
Umm...I don't have anything else

As I stated with Peter Berg's The Kingdom in Film Cemetery #14, this release from Michael Bay was not bad at all...but The Island suffers from the same problem as Berg's film. 

It is - in a nutshell - two separate movies.

I have explained that I believe movie studio execs want to see a film earn back its budget domestically, so any overseas cash that comes in can be considered pure profit. 

The summer 2005 popcorn-muncher The Island had a budget of 126 million, and earned 35 million here in the states. Warner and DreamWorks rate Bay's flick as a bomb, but it did bring the major bucks in from Europe.

The main premise of The Island starts out simply enough. A group of nuclear holocaust survivors are living underground in a state-of-the-art facility designed to take care of their every need.

Hmm. Could be worse.

The focus of the film begins with Ewan McGregor, playing Lincoln Six Echo, one of the inhabitants of the underground facility. His love interest is played by Scarlett Johansson - Jordan Two Delta. 

Sounds kind of Logan's Run-ish to you? Don't worry, things change quickly for McGregor and Johansson. 

I am going to stop and tell you about three actors that all make a brief appearance in The Island. I greatly admire all three, and each adds their own flavor in how the film is laid out for the viewer.

Sean Bean plays Dr. Merrick - who at first glance seems to be McGregor's therapist. 

Michael Clark Duncan plays a facility inhabitant and medical patient who really does not want to be operated on. 

And finally, there's Steve Buscemi - a maintenance worker that introduces McGregor to a way out of the underground building.

Of course, here is where we find out that there has been no war. 

The underground facility is a converted missile silo, and the inhabitants are clones of very rich people that may need an organ or limb at some point in their life.

I was a little put off by the seemingly low clone price, which is 5 million bucks. I mean, to make a clone, feed, take care of and hide that person from the world? That's worth more than a measly 5 mil, ain't it?

McGregor and Johansson escape, and Bean (evil clone scientist, it turns out) orders Dijomon Hounsou - a military contractor - to track them down. 

You handsome man, you

Moving on.....

As summer movies go, there really isn't anything wrong with The Island. It's very entertaining, and has a decent premise. A lot of critics liked the movie, but felt the advertising campaign dropped the ball entirely.

And I'm not here to argue about that. Indeed, there are some extremely interesting, as well as thorny, human issues at the heart of this film....but then the action takes over.

Yes, that's right. Michael Bay decided against exploring the weighty issues that were raised with the first half hour of The Island - and said; "Fuck it. Let's blow some shit up."

Hence, the two separate films. On the one hand, you got a human interest story - and on the other, you got Bay and his stunt crew. 

Close call on set with a Hummer

The car stunts are the best I've seen. Period. They are so good, in fact, that Bay reused footage from this movie in Transformers 3.

One of the best gags in the flick are the dumbbells. 

This 'dumbbell gag' takes place on a semi flatbed loaded with train axle wheels. (the crew called them dumbbells)

Bay stated that he'd seen such a load of train wheels in real life, and couldn't imagine anything more dangerous. 

McGregor and Johansson are trying to get away from the baddies and hitch a ride on the flatbed, crawling under the train wheel load. The bad guys are in Dodge Magnums, a Hummer, and an armored truck.

McGregor gets the bright idea to undo the tie-downs on the train wheels....and all holy hell breaks loose.

If you watch closely, you still can't figure 
out how the stuntman survived this gag

In reality, Bay and his crew filmed this using a stunt camera car that was basically a frame with nerf padding attached. 

The stunt cars are flipped using air cannons, or driven at high speed right into a piece of scrap iron. The armored truck was flipped end-over-end by remote control. 

But the ingenious part?

Those heavy-ass train wheel axles dropping to ground along with a great soundtrack are foam rubber. Completely harmless, but holy shit do they look real on screen.

Another fantastic stunt is the 'dropping R'. At least, that's what I call it. 

McGregor and Johansson are hiding out in the letter R in a logo on top of a skyscraper. 

If you want to know how they got there, watch the movie, because it's a little silly.

A real 'R' was dropped into a construction worker safety netting on set - along with foam rubber bits of building and a real jet engine of a helicopter that was destroyed by the falling 'R'. What a awesome gag, and if you watch closely, the same cab is crunched by the jet engine over and over.

The Island should be watched for the stunts, if nothing else. 

I make fun of Michael Bat a lot...but when it comes to elaborate, well-executed stunts that look great on screen...the man really knows his onions.

The jetbike is impressive...and during filming 
one of them destroyed a $600,000 camera

Put up your feet tonight and sit down with a DVD of The Island. Be ready to rewind, though, because the stunts really are that good.

The rest of the movie?

Well, just remember who made it.

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