starring Ewan McGregor, Scarlett Johansson, Djimon Hounsou, Sean Bean
screenplay by Caspian Tredwell-Owen and Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci
directed by Michael Bay
by Walter Chaw What films often get wrong in depicting Satan is that Satan is beautiful. He tells intoxicating lies, was--at least according to Milton--the most stunning of the angels, and, if modern hackery is to be honoured, directs action movies that are kinetic and exciting. The problem of a guy like Michael Bay is that for as close to vermin as the man may be (and stories of his on-set behaviour, especially his treatment of women, are legion and ugly), his films are, at least on the surface, sleek, pulpy, thrill-ride fun. He's defined almost by himself a new way of seeing that has infected lesser technical talents with those same quick scissor-fingers and the attention spans of mayflies. Would that that were all, but this influence has secondary victims in a generation of young male moviegoers, bludgeoned with Bay's rubber mallet into a tacit acceptance of/complicity with Bay's opinion of women (strippers or bimbos or bimbo strippers), race, and how best to feed a movie into a Cuisinart. Still, his latest film, The Island, came with reasons to be hopeful: writers from sometimes-smart (as in not-always-stupid) show "Alias"; stars in Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson; and no Jerry Bruckheimer in sight. But the result isn't good so much as more of the same except without any excitement or novelty. His mask is slipping, and The Island is awkward, dated, and so fuddy-duddy (like in its retarded Logan's Run finale, shot on Bay's trademark Lazy Susan) that I actually caught myself feeling, just for an eye-blink, embarrassed for the guy. That Satan, he's a slippery puck, ain't he.