A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the movie features explosions, fights, and vehicle chases. Characters drink, smoke, fight, and kill one another. Several scenes show clones in various unfinished states (incubating in sacks and on tables); others show organs harvested (surgery) and a baby harvested (the mother is killed after giving birth). While the protagonists' social naiveté and first grade reading skills make them seem childish, they are definitely adult in their sexual interests and fighting abilities. Characters and background images make frequent references to commercial products (including MSN, Puma, XBox, Aquafina, Cadillac, Ben & Jerry's).
- Parents say
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What's the story?
It's 2019, and Lincoln Six Echo (Ewan McGregor) is disturbed by nightmares that run counter to his conditioned belief that the "island" is a paradise, the last unscathed location in a post-apocalyptic world. He and his friend Jordan Two Delta (Scarlett Johansson) live at a facility run by Dr. Merrick (Sean Bean), until they are "chosen" to leave for the island. Lincoln learns his dreams are "genetic memories," and that he and his community are all clones, paid for by wealthy people who plan to use the clones' organs, genes, and wombs in order to prolong or enhance their own, "original" lives. Helped by engineering, non-clone friend McCord (Steve Buscemi), Lincoln and Jordan learn the world has not been destroyed, escape the facility, and flee to Los Angeles. Merrick hires a mercenary crew to hunt them down, led by former Special Forces soldier Albert Laurent (Djimon Hounsou), who has a particular, historically motivated understanding of breeding people for money.
Is it any good?
Loud, fast, and fulsome, this action movie actually spends a few minutes pondering ethical questions. But just a few. For the most part, The Island is simplistic science fiction, pitting very athletic, very attractive heroes on the run against plainly despicable corporate villains.
Besides Hounsou's character, the other visible black man is a football star (Michael Clarke Duncan), or rather, his clone, whose vigorous resistance to harvesting surgery initially reveals the truth to an understandably horrified Lincoln. Most of the film, however, is given over to the pretty white clones' multi-faceted education -- in running, spending money, driving, and soft-focus kissing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the film's important ethical and philosophical questions concerning clones and organ harvesting: When do clones become individuals? Who can afford to purchase clones or organs, and how does this create a hierarchy of health, longevity, and cultural power? Does the fact that technology exists justify or compel its use? Families might also talk about how the film reduces resolutions for such dilemmas by broadly outlining villains and heroes, stereotypical relationships, and high-powered, plainly expensive action sequences.
- In theaters: July 22, 2005
- On DVD or streaming: December 13, 2005
- Cast: Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Sean Bean
- Director: Michael Bay
- Studio: DreamWorks
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 127 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action, some sexuality and language
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