Some spoilers included here. But since The Island is Michael Bay's latest Big Dumb Action Movie, am I really spoiling much?
I don't see how I could possibly run a blog called "low brow culture" and not like Michael Bay movies. Sure, he's got all the subtlety of a jackhammer. And sure, his movies are based around explosive set-pieces, but you know what? I don't care. He packs more visceral flourishes into two hours than most directors have managed in their entire careers. And since this is exactly what he's going for, I say fair balls to him.
So, the Island.
I wanted to see this since I first read about it a few months ago. I mean, what's not to love? It's directly lifting pieces from a shedload of movies I love. Logan's Run, THX-1138, the Matrix... Surely, with a bunch of explosions and car chases, The Island would be better than the sum of its parts.
It is. Barely. But what struck me more than anything else was the unrelenting stream of product placement in this movie. Now, I'll be the first to admit I'm not the brightest spark in the fire, and product placement typically whizzes over my head like a jet plane. So, the fact that I'm dedicating an entire blog entry to this just makes me think: Jesus, Michael. Couldn't you have toned it down just a little?
These are all in roughly chronological order. If you spot any more, let me know and I'll add them up here.
Barely three minutes into the movie, we're greeted with an entire tray of Puma footwear. Lincoln Three-Echo appears to be missing a shoe. Now, this begs a couple of questions.
- In a perfect society, where they can detect two people touching, how does a shoe go missing?
- In a hermetically sealed world, why bother with branding at all?
Oh, how very droll. But this just brings up the issue of Question 2 again.
Now, this is just baffling.
The movie is set in 2017 (or so). And yet they use the old Xbox logo. The one that got retired in 2004, and is being replaced by the new Xbox 360 one.
Within the story - Sean Bean proclaims how he keeps the products docile and without emotion. What possible purpose could there be for a game room that encourages fighting between fully 3D holographic representations of the characters? Don't they know videogames are bad for you?
The nerd in me just wants to snort at the idea of MSN Search powering a city's telephone system.
For me, this makes the least sense. If you look carefully, you can probably make out the Microsoft logo on the building in the background. I'm not sure if this building exists or not (I'm doubting it does), but either way, this is most certainly a deliberate inclusion. But it only appears on the screen for a fraction of a second - whizzing by far too fast for most people to notice.
Except those poring over every frame, looking for product placement, of course.
This is either the most galling of the lot: having an actual ad play within the movie, or a really nifty post-modern idea using an actual Scarlett Johansson in a movie where she plays her clone. I'll give the filmmakers the benefit of the doubt and say it's the latter.
Michelob recently launched "Michelob Light in an Aluminium Bottle." Here it is. In the movie, it looks even more like a straight-out advertisment. The bottle provides the only colour in the scenes it's featured in, as the camera reverentially zooms and pans its way around the bottle.