Tag Archives: Michael Clarke Duncan

The Island (2005) Review

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The Island

Time: 136 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Ewan McGregor as Tom Lincoln/Lincoln Six-Echo
Scarlett Johansson as Sarah Jordan/Jordan Two-Delta
Djimon Hounsou as Albert Laurent
Sean Bean as Dr. Merrick
Michael Clarke Duncan as Jamal Starkweather/Starkweather Two-Delta
Steve Buscemi as James “Mac” McCord
Director: Michael Bay

Futuristic thriller about a contained, seemingly utopian facility in the mid-21st century. The residents hope to be chosen to go to the Island – the last uncontaminated place on Earth, but when one inhabitant discovers that there are sinister forces at work, he and a female friend make a daring escape.

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I had some recollection of The Island, having first watched it many years ago. I remember it starring Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, and being one of the better Michael Bay movies. I decided to revisit it and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

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The Island has an interesting setup and premise, and I found the story to be interesting. I won’t say what the plot is about as I think it’s best going into it not knowing the reveals beforehand. It does have some interesting ideas, and occasionally it attempts to raise some interesting ethical scientific questions about its subject matter. Some of the topics can even be thought provoking. The premise has an interesting sci-fi concept that could’ve been explored and made into something special. Unfortunately by the end, the film is an overblown action movie. The film would’ve been better if it had a stronger focus on the heavier ideas it had. The plot itself seems to be divided into two very different halves. The first half is an intriguing look into a particular facility of people, where the lead characters played by McGregor and Johannsson try to figure out the truth about where they are. There were cool concepts introduced and solid worldbuilding here, in fact the movie takes a surprising amount of time to establish its world and characters. The second half of the movie takes place after most of the major reveals have been given, and turns into a fugitive action flick, with not much story or character development. This is where the film really stumbles, it’s just the two main characters on the run with intense chase scenes and doesn’t do much with the dystopian aspect. The two halves don’t really fit together that well. Second half aside, there are still some other issues with the film. Despite the interesting ideas, The Island doesn’t bring anything new to the table in terms of the genre, and still has a formulaic plot. There are some plot conveniences and some of the dialogue is a little rough. It also lacks in character development, even with the lead characters. It does feel a little too long at around 2 hours and 15 minutes, not helped by the inconsistent pacing. However it does keep you entertained throughout the runtime.

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On the whole, the cast play their roles really well. Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson are pretty good as the lead characters despite the lack of character depth and development given to them. McGregor particularly gets to do more in the second half of the movie (without getting into spoilers here). The supporting cast are solid too, Steve Buscemi is entertaining in a supporting role, Sean Bean delivers in the main villain role, and Djimon Hounsou makes for a threatening supporting antagonist as a mercenary sent after the main characters.

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Michael Bay directs this movie, and you can recognise this almost immediately. It contains many of his tropes and trademarks, from the style of cinematography, product placement, and more. However I still think this is probably one of his most restrained movies. The cinematography is slick and it has a near future look and feel to it, where the tech is sci-fi, but doesn’t feel entirely out of the realm of possibility. The action sequences are generally fun and creative, with the chase scenes particularly shining. There is definitely an overload of action by the end, but I don’t have a huge amount of complaints about the action itself. There is definitely quite a lot of shaky cam used and it was a bit much at points, but it does add some urgency to these scenes. Unsurprisingly, the movie also features a large and rousing score from Steve Jacoblonsky and works quite well for this film.

The Island

Despite its ideas and promising premise, The Island is nothing special as far as sci-fi movies go. However, I was still reasonably invested with the plot, the acting is good, the action is fun to watch, and I was entertained throughout. I’m aware that some people really don’t like Michael Bay’s movies, but for what it’s worth, I think it’s one of his best, and definitely worth checking out.

Daredevil Director’s Cut (2003) Review

Time: 133 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1]
Cast:
Ben Affleck as Matt Murdock/Daredevil
Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios
Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin
Colin Farrell as Bullseye
Jon Favreau as Franklin “Foggy” Nelson
Joe Pantoliano as Ben Urich
David Keith as Jack Murdock
Scott Terra as Young Matt Murdock
Director: Mark Steven Johnson

Attorney Matt Murdock (Ben Affleck) is blind, but his other four senses function with superhuman sharpness. By day, Murdock represents the downtrodden. At night, he is Daredevil, a masked vigilante, a relentless avenger of justice. When Wilson Fisk (Michael Clarke Duncan) hires Bullseye (Colin Farrell) to kill Daredevil, Murdock must rely on his own senses and search out the conspirators against justice — which may include his own girlfriend, Elektra (Jennifer Garner).

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I had heard many times before that the Daredevil movie wasn’t good, it’s been known as one of the worst comic book movies of all time. However, I had been meaning to check it out, even just out of curiosity. I watched the director’s cut and it’s by no means a particularly good movie, but I can’t deny that it was really entertaining, even if it’s not in the way it was intended. It’s really silly, and the movie playing it seriously only made it even more funny and enjoyable.

I’m not entirely certain with what the director’s cut added but from scanning over the list of reported changes, the director’s cut seems to be a vast improvement over the theatrical cut. A lot of the comedy was actually funny, though I have a feeling a lot of it wasn’t intentional. It does get a little too over the top at times though, mainly the now infamous playground scene where Matt Murdock (Affleck) and Elektra (Garner) fight. That scene particularly is astounding in how goofy and ridiculous it was, easily the worst scene of the movie, and that’s saying a lot. The plot is really nothing special and is actually rather drawn out. Really it takes half the movie for the plot to really start happening. You don’t really become emotionally invested in the story or characters at all, you’re basically just here to be entertained. It uses a lot of clichés and tropes present from plenty of comic book movies from the 2000s, this is by far the most 2000s of them all. The movie may be too dumb for some people and I can get that, but for me I had a blast watching what would happen next.

Ben Affleck is Matt Murdock/Daredevil and I think he was actually a good pick for the role, playing both sides of the character well. The material wasn’t great, but he did what he could with what he had. He’s also a little consistent as a character, in one scene early on Daredevil lets someone get killed, which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if they didn’t act like he is a vigilante who doesn’t cross the line to kill for the remainder of the movie. Wouldn’t necessarily mind a more brutal Daredevil so long as they stuck with it all the way through. Side note but Affleck is also really convincing as a blind man, though it probably helped that he had contact lenses at certain points. Jennifer Garner as Elektra Natchios wasn’t really used to her fullest potential but she was fine. She really only gets a couple scenes near the end to actually do things but that’s it. Thankfully she got her own movie after this but apparently it’s significantly worse than Daredevil. They share some good chemistry despite some incredibly bad writing for their scenes together. Jon Favreau is also good as Foggy Nelsen, Murdock’s lawyer partner and friend. The villains are endlessly entertaining. Michael Clarke Duncan as Wilson Fisk/Kingpin is perfect casting and chews up scenery whenever he’s on screen, unfortunately he’s not really given much to do and really wasn’t utilised as much as he could’ve been. Still he was fun to watch. The scene stealer however is Colin Farrell as Bullseye, completely and utterly silly and over the top. He’s not given any sort of backstory and was really just a silly comic book movie villain. Pretty much the reason that he’s particularly after Daredevil is that during an assassination, he made him miss one of his shots, and that’s a classic comic book villain motivation (even though I’m pretty sure that’s not Bullseye). Pretty much the only comic book accurate thing about this version of Bullseye is that he can catch and throw things pretty well. I probably wouldn’t call him good but he’s certainly entertaining, which at this point is the only thing that Daredevil unintentionally succeeds at.

The direction by Mark Steven Johnson wasn’t the best. The transitions between scenes are over the top with the camera zooming through the city and the like. The music choices are also so 2000s, it’s over the top and stuck with that, that it only made things so much more entertaining. The highlight was the use of Evanescence (there are two uses of them) when Elektra is practicing on some sandbags to ‘Bring me to Life’, peak 2000s comic book movie moment right there. With that said, I recall that there were some directing decisions that I liked. Some things are ripped from other comic book movies at the time, like when Matt gets hit by radioactive waste it shows what happens internally to him with effects similar to when Peter Parker gets bitten by a spider and gets powers in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man. I think the action was decent enough, again really over the top, but you can generally see what’s going on during them. The costumes are a mixed bag. The Daredevil suit is actually pretty decent, it’s actually on par with the red Daredevil suit for the Netflix show (way too much leather though). On the other hand I’m not sure what they were even thinking for the Bullseye costume, but it fitted the performance well, so I guess that’s a win.

Daredevil definitely isn’t a good movie, however it’s the cheese and over the top factor that makes it so fun to watch. Along with that there are some genuinely good things, like the actors despite the bad material do try, and some of them are decent here. I view this the way I view Suicide Squad, a really silly comic book movie that’s not particularly good, but has some entertaining parts to it. If you’re going to watch the movie, I do recommend the Director’s Cut, it seemed to have significantly improved the movie. However, if you want a legitimately good representation of Daredevil, it goes without saying but the Netflix series is definitely what you’re really looking for.