The Island - Press Archive - Dark Horizons Set Visit
Set Report: "The Island"
Posted: Friday February 18th, 2005 11:17pm
Location: Downey, CA
Author: Brad Miska
Good friend 'Brad Miska' went to Downey yesterday and sent in this
report from the next Michael Bay action spectacular currently in production:
"The biggest set I've ever experienced and I even got to leave having
seen the entire movie! You wonder how now.
Day 78 of an 86 day shoot. Michael Bay and his insanely large crew
are back in the comfort of California after venturing through Death
Valley, Nevada, Detroit, Michigan and various other places shooting
his next action-drama The Island for Dreamworks Pictures. The
buzz is that Michael Bay's story for The Island might be guilty
by association- but the only thing the movie is truly guilty of is...
it's a Michael Bay movie - you know, cool cars, big chase scenes,
shoot-outs and lots of explosions.
The Island takes place 20-25 years in the future as we follow
Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor) as he tries to unravel the mystery
of who he is and what he is meant for. The movie opens in a self-
contained facility with 3,000 humans who live their daily lives there.
They believe that their world is devastated and that they are the
sole survivors being protected so they can repopulate the world.
Every so often a lottery is held and a lucky individual will get to
leave the facility for "The Island" where they will live a happy life
Lincoln, along with the others, think one of their fellow members
Starkweather (Michael Clarke Duncan) had won the lottery and is
on his way to "The Island," only Lincoln stumbles onto the truth
as Starkweather wakes up during some sort of "operation" and
is screaming through the halls begging for help. What the hell is
going on? Lincoln finds out that he is a clone - or as Michael Bay
calls them "Agnates" - and Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson)
and him attempt to escape to reveal to the world what is really
going on in the middle of the desert.
Why do I know so much about the movie? You'll never believe
just how much I know. After our interview with Michael Bay, he's
like, "I've got some clips to show you," so I'm ecstatic and yell,
"Cool!" In a typical '80s montage fashion, the clip was actually
the ENTIRE movie from start to finish! After the clip I'm exclaimed,
"Thanks Michael, now I don't have to see it!" He's replies,
"NO NO NO this is the movie without any of the COOL sh-t!"
The clip (or short movie) was loaded with sweet car chases, stand-offs,
gun fights, explosions and one of the funniest things I've seen in a
long time - an homage to the great John Woo. During one shot we
see pigeons fluttering all over during a big shoot out, a la doves
in a Woo film- hilarious stuff! In addition there is the classic
"who's the real Lincoln?" scene. "I'm the real one, No I am...." I
t's ridiculous and cliché as hell, but we don't watch Michael Bay
movies for the drama do we? Hell no, we watch them for the explosions!
Enough about the clips, you want to know how the set looked don't you?
When you start doing set visits on a regular basis the excitement fades
a little, especially after your last visit was to Spielberg's War of the
Worlds set. But rest assured this was the absolute most insane set
I've ever been on. All War had was millions of people standing around,
a rain machine (and Tom Cruise) - The Island on the other hand had
room after room after room of giant eccentric sets.
Flashback to my entrance, the Downey Studios (30 miles South of
Hollywood) caught me by surprise. The lot was the size of five - maybe
six Super Wal-Marts, one could get lost walking around and never
make it out alive. When we finally headed inside the first thing we
got to see was where Lincoln works. It was a small all white
laboratory with 8-10 desks set up all equipped with (you guessed it)
Apple computers. Across the desks are giant tubes or wires that
look eerily similar to DNA strands. What Lincoln and his co-workers
think they're doing is making nutrients and vitamins, but what
they're actually doing is pumping everything into the incubated
Agnate bodies. To the right of the work area are small rooms with
dozens of test tubes and flasks all illuminated by blacklights.
Purple lights are cool in the future, I swear!
Build right next to the work area is a long grey cement hallway to the
different corridors of the giant complex, which is supposed to look
as if it's 60 stories tall. While walking through the hallway to the
next section of the set I ran my fingers across the wall to feel the
cool cement only to discover that the walls were made of wood!
It was unbelievable how real these walls looked; a kung fu expert
wouldn't try and punch a hole through these walls!
Then we arrived to the most illustriously portion of our tour,
"Centerville," which is the center atrium designed in the middle
of three other atriums (they'll be CG'd in later). We stood right
in the middle (the core greeting area) of three "practical" levels
of the 60 story complex. We were told that ILM would be
enhancing various portions of this giant chamber. Third floor
and center is a room behind glass that is probably an operations
center of some kind. We were told there will be all sorts of
holographic images projects around there, specifically on the glass.
Back on our floor, which is designed orbicular, there are various places
for the Agnates to relax. There's an exercising room with dozens of
bicycles, a room for aerobics that was very '70's looking, a bar for
getting plastered, a pool and places around the area were various
elevators. This entire complex was made of the same wood that
was painted to look like cement, which still to this moment blows
my friggin mind. On the lower level were more rooms and a set
up for the Agnates to get their lunch cafeteria style. There's
nothing like feeling like you're back in school.
While checking out the various levels of the atrium, we were
told that a large portion of the film takes place in LA where
here will be monorails and check this- a flying jet pack chase
sequence! Forget Superman. The Agnates are stored very similar
to The Matrix humans. They are in an egg shell chamber with purple
goo all around them, their skin is white, they're bald and have
hundreds of wires plugged into their bodies. Too bad we didn't get
to see this, but I got to check out a sweet image from the film.
There was also a shot of Lincoln with his eye pried open and little
nano bugs are going to be CG'd to crawl in.
After all the fun and excitement we headed to the stage were Michael
Bay was hard at work shooting a scene on an elevator where Michael
Clarke Duncan's character is telling everyone how lucky he was to be
a winner of the lottery in a projection on the wall. Knowing it's all a
farce the propaganda is sickening to the viewer, but damn funny at
the same time.
Michael screams, "Woo! I'm going to the island!!!" The group of slaves
on the elevator are all wearing white jumpsuits with a black stripe on
the back that resembles a exclamation point. Behind the shooting area
for the elevator sequence, where we were sitting, was the operation
table where the Agnates parts are removed to their donors. It was a
circular table hanging by a large arm from the ceilings with wires
everywhere. Another very Matrixstique display.
There was just so much, almost too much. My brain hurts just trying
to remember all this and digest it all at the same time. But just
how big was this experience? On our way out my buddy Joe touched
a Cadillac that was used in the movie, which we were told cost $7
million to make. He exclaimed, "I always wanted to touch $7 million
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