The Island: Why it flopped

The Island poster

There’s an interesting article on Slate about why Scarlet and Ewan’s The Island flopped last summer. It has some interesting points to make, but there are a couple of things I take issue with.

Firstly, the author, Edward Jay Epstein, describes The Island as original. As good old Mark Kermode pointed out at length, it wasn’t; at the very least, it was very, very close to The Clonus Horror, but it certainly had echoes of Logan’s Run and several other movies in there as well.

Secondly, he also says “What really failed here was not the directing, acting, or story (which were all acceptable for a summer movie)”. While Ewan and Scarlet could certainly have phoned in worse performances and the directing was actually reasonably good at times, the second half of the story was astonishingly bad. The heroes fall off the side of a skyscraper, stuck to a giant logo, and all that happens is they get a couple of scratches!? How does that work?

While the first half was reasonably clever and interesting, the second half was just a neverending series of setpiece stunts. If that’s what’s now acceptable then it’s easy to see why 2005 lacked any rmust-see blockbusters. Blockbusters aren’t ever going to smash records with a Hamlet-like script, but audiences have to feel they’re not having their intelligences utterly insulted. If Hollywood wants to know where it’s going wrong, it should take a firm look at their writing processes to see how to get better quality into the scripts.