Movie Marketing Madness: The Island

Oh my God, Michael Bay is back. We tried exiling him to the island of Elba after Armageddon. We tried spinning three times, throwing a shaker of salt over our shoulder and hoping he’d go away after Pearl Harbor. Unfortunately, like Michael Myers (or, for that matter, Mike Myers) he keeps coming back to prove just what a big pain in the ass he actually is.
“The Island” looks like some sort of mash-up of “Soylent Green,” THX-1138 and “Parts: The Clonus Horror.” Ewan MacGregor and Scarlett Johannson play drone-types living in a utilitarian society whose residents long to be chosen to live on The Island, billed as Earth’s last remaining pristine environment. These two, though, are destined to find out the truth and, in true Michael Bay fashion, dodge lots of shit that’s blowing up.

The Posters

Initially there were two teaser posters released. Why they were treated as teasers is beyond me since they didn’t really tease anything. One featured McGregor running away from something and a picture of an island, the other was the same background only it had Johannson fleeing. My point is that by showing the stars, including taglines that hinted at the ominous nature of the island and showing the thing there really wasn’t a whole lot left to the imagination.

The theatrical one reinforces that this is going to be a very glossy movie with two beautiful people running for their lives. Johannson gets more of a full facial shot while McGregor is relegated to profile. It’s better than the teasers but not by much.

The Trailers

There are three trailers and a teaser which, like the poster, doesn’t really tease. They contain about 75% similar footage so we see the same big CGI sign fall off a building, we keep seeing Michael Clarke Duncan be hauled off against his will and we keep seeing Boromir act shady. It occurred to me that Scarlett Johannson looks more objectively hot in this than she has in her previous movies, where she’s played the pretty girl who doesn’t think she’s pretty. Here she’s got the straighter hair and raccoon eyes thing going meaning her agent now thinks it’s time she got more adult roles.

The Website

What I found interesting on the site is that, right after it loads, you’re greeted by the option to read some glowing reviews of the movie. Prominent display of gushing qulurbs (quote blurbs) brings to mind images of Lady Macbeth and someone protesting too much. “Really! Look at how great these people think our movie is! Has Harry Knowles ever been wrong?” The audience is savvier than that, folks.

While the site is very pretty to look at there’s not a whole helluva lot there. Also on the main page are links to enter two contests. First is the chance to win a private screening of the movie, which immediately brings to mind scenes from “A Clockwork Orange.” Next is the chance to win a PC painted by members of the cast. I think it would be cool to surf the internet for pictures of Scarlett Johannson naked on a computer painted by Johannson herself. Anyone else?

“Media” contains all four iterations of the trailer as well as an international version that wasn’t any more inspired than the others. There’s also an Exclusive Clip from the movie, begging the question of what constitutes an “exclusive”? I mean this is an official site so it’s not like providing an exclusive represents any sort of journalistic coup on their part. Maybe I’m being nit-picky but I’ve about had it with breathless hype over nothing at all.

You can learn all about the film (or at least those parts the publicists want you to know) in “About the Film”. There you’ll find a Story synopsis which gives away most of the movie, an Image Gallery consisting of about 12 pics and something called Perspectives. That last one is actually kind of interesting in that it provides some character background in the form of intercepted email communication or magazine coverage from the world the characters inhabit. It’s an interesting concept but not executed fully, like they had a good idea but couldn’t quite make it work. And a 12 picture photo gallery for a visual-intensive movie is just sad and shows a lack of commitment.

“Behind the Scenes” contains a lot of footage showing Michael Bay giving blowjobs to studio executives as they hang his future career over his head. I mean a lot.

Finally there’s a commercial for Merrick Biotech, the company behind the sinister goings-on in the movie that seems pretty cool.

Overall

Look, we all know Michael Bay movies aren’t good for us. Occasionally something like “The Rock” is alright but that was made before Bay really hit his stride as a talentless hack. Even that has more to do with Nicholas Cage’s performance than anything Bay might have done.

“The Island” is marketed as thinking-man’s summer escapism, but probably won’t live up to those expectations. Instead of being a philosophical exploration of genetics tampering, it is a showcase for visual effects artists to show off the latest in CGI fireballs and for Ewan McGregor to afford going back to making non-studio movies.