TV Review – The I-Land

TL;DR – This is really a slow burn but then it grabs you as all the different parts start to merge together and you discover what is behind The Island and the number 39.

Score – 3.5 out of 5 stars

The I-Land. Image Credit: Netflix.

Review

One of my great joys is watching the TV Show Survivor where they throw a bunch of random people on an island and subject them to the elements and every puzzle under the Sun. It is such an interesting scenario, that I am surprised that we don’t see more people take advantage of it narratively. Well, today we get to look at a show that does just that, exploring a world where you can trust nothing and no one, not even what you can see with your own two eyes.  

So to set the scene, one morning you wake up, but you are not at home in your bed, you are on a beach lying in the sand with waves crashing into you. To add to this you cannot remember how you got there, or even who you are. As Chase (Natalie Martinez) tries to get her bearings she stumbles across KC (Kate Bosworth) and discovers that she is not alone. There are ten of them and no one can remember anything bar waking up on the beach. As they try to find something of their past lives, the reality of their situation dawns and soon the power politics show their heads and worse. Now from here, we will be looking at the season as a whole so there will be [SPOILERS] ahead.

The I-Land. Image Credit: Netflix.
What starts as a simple story quickly escalates. Image Credit: Netflix.

One of the things that really sets this apart is how the multifaceted the acting is as the world starts to fall apart. When they first arrived on the beach, all of the ten had no memories of their past, but there was something of their pasts there. That is such a difficult balance to pull off. Add to this they also play their former selves in flashbacks, and then also a composite of all of those characters as the memories start to come back. To keep that all working and have it be compelling and also consistent took a lot of talent form both the actors but also the writers.

Natalie Martinez as Chase has to do a lot of the heavy lifting in the show as the through-line between the real and virtual worlds. Someone who is trying to do the right thing, even though she is being played by forces outside of her control. We get to see that arc from nothingness, to revelation, to revolution, and more. The show starts that arc for some of the other characters but it does not quite finish as for many of them the island is their final resting place. Also, if the show nails one thing more than anything else, it is the pissing contest that different academics get into on committee meetings.  

The I-Land. Image Credit: Netflix.
Chase is what links the real and digital worlds together. The I-Land. Image Credit: Netflix.

The production in the show is really good, making the most of its setting and world. A large percentage of the show is filmed out on location, which gives everything more impact, and gives the world a sense of possible danger even if that is just manufactured. To add to this all the worldbuilding was really quite interesting when we get to see snapshots of it. I did never seen an actual date but you can tell it is some time in the future. Throughout the show there were also some really well-framed action scenes, which made really good use of the environment to reinforce the choreography. There were a couple of times where the TV budget limitations did sneak through, but you can kind of let that slide when there are tiger sharks involved.  

An area where the tone becomes inconsistent and slips from trying to say something to being problematic is its depiction of abuse. Men abusing women is a consistent theme in the show, indeed the first episode goes from normal to not, real quick. One of the things the show explores is how awful that men can be, it reinforces this over and over again. But the question is, did they need to show the multiple examples of abuse in sometimes explicit detail. Well I am not sure that they did.

The I-Land. Image Credit: Netflix.
It can get very blunt with its themes at times. Image Credit: Netflix.

They are also not very subtle with their themes. For example, the Warden (Bruce McGill) is the embodiment of a certain type of American law enforcement, like a disgraced former sheriff from Arizona. Someone who is happy to use his position of power to inflict pain on others, because they are ‘all guilty of something’. Everything about him is a stereotypical Texan as possible and he was one ye-haw from making it complete. It is not the only place where the themes are presented very bluntly, even if there is resolution for them in the end.

In the end, do we recommend The I-Land? Yes, yes I think we would. As a concept, I was not sure if it had the strength to progress further than its start. However, as it continued to evolve it took risks that really paid off making it deeply compelling and a story I want to see how it ended. Sure there are some rough edges here and there, and some story beats that I think could have been thought through a bit more. However, the main concept was sound and they brought it to an interesting conclusion that I don’t think we have seen the end of, which is fine by me.             

By Brian MacNamara: You can follow Brian on Twitter Here, when he’s not chatting about Movies and TV, he’ll be talking about International Relations, or the Solar System.

Have you seen The I-Land yet ?, let us know what you thought in the comments below, feel free to share this review on any of the social medias and you can follow us Here. Check out all our past reviews and articles Here, and have a happy day.    


Credits –
All images were created by the cast, crew, and production companies of The I-Land
Directed by
– Neil LaBute, Darnell Martin & Jonathan Scarfe  
Written by – Neil LaBute, Lucy Teitler,  
Created by – Anthony Salter
Production/Distribution Companies – Nomadic Pictures Entertainment & Netflix
Starring – Natalie Martinez, Kate Bosworth, Ronald Peet, Kyle Schmid, Gilles Geary, Sibylla Deen, Anthony Lee Medina, Kota Eberhardt, Michelle Veintimilla & Alex Pettyfer with Keilyn Durrel Jones, Clara Wong, Keilyn Durrel Jones, Bruce McGill, María Conchita Alonso, Dalia Davi, Caroline Hewitt, John Earl Jelks, Victor Slezak, Taylor Handley, Ryan Dorsey,                
Episodes Covered – Brave New World, The Gorgeous Palaces, The Insubstantial Pageant, Many Goodly Creatures, The Cloud Capp’d Towers, The Great Globe Itself & The Dark Backward     

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