The I-Land

Now Streaming: The I-Land

Ever since Lost went off the air, a lot of TV shows have come and gone trying to be the next Lost. I can’t think of any quite so shameless about it as Netflix’s The I-Land.

The first episode even opens with a close-up shot of a character’s eye opening. I’d almost be inclined to think that this could be some sort of intentional meta-commentary on the similarities between the two shows, but that would definitely be giving the writers of this schlock way too much credit.

The plot: A group of strangers wake up on the beach of a seemingly-uninhabited tropical island. None of them knows where they are, how they got there, or even who they are. Coincidentally, all of them have total amnesia. Yet they’re all dressed in identical white shirts, which conveniently have name tags in the collars that they’re left to assume must be their names. Chase (Natalie Martinez from Under the Dome and last year’s Lost clone The Crossing) quickly takes a leadership position as the group’s “Jack.” However, she’s immediately met with animosity from ice-cold K.C. (Kate Bosworth), who distrusts and despises her right off the bat for no apparent reason.

Other members of the group are mostly a bunch of idiots and assholes. Beefy hunk Brody (one-time failed teen heartthrob Alex Pettyfer) seems to be on Chase’s side, but that relationship sours when he tries to rape her and then lies to everyone else about what happened, making them doubt Chase’s sanity.

In addition to the name tags, Chase discovers a series of clues hidden around the island, almost as if planted there for her to find. The group then split into smaller factions, some of whom want to stay on the beach and wait for rescue while others want to move inland for shelter. As they explore the island, its many mysteries deepen, leading to the inevitable conclusion that all the members of this group were chosen for a reason and the powers behind the island have plans for them.

Verdict / Grade: C

To be fair to The I-Land, the show isn’t just a Lost knockoff. It’s also a blatant knockoff of another very famous sci-fi franchise. That plot twist gets dropped in Episode 3 and I’d feel a little bad about spoiling it, even if Netflix’s own trailers pretty much give it away.

I wouldn’t be surprised if the majority of viewers gave up before getting that far. The first two episodes of the show are embarrassingly bad. The characters are all unlikeable, the dialogue is terrible, and some of the acting feels like it belongs in a porno. And that’s all on top of the heavy-handed Lost copycatting.

Things start to turn around in Episode 3. The big twist is kind of an eye-roller and the show still doesn’t have a single original idea in its head, but the plot becomes marginally more interesting and some of the characters (especially Bosworth’s) are less annoying once their backstories are doled out in flashbacks. Episode 5 also ends with a legitimately hilarious zinger.

Asking audiences to sit through two terrible episodes to get to the better ones is a big ask, and even the improvements in the second half of the season barely raise the show from “awful” to “mediocre.” The ending also fizzles out, leaving a lot of plot threads unresolved, but in such a way that I don’t expect a second season to follow.

Nevertheless, I stuck it out. If you’re inclined to do the same, the good news is that, despite initial impressions, the short eight-episode binge is not totally unbearable. A few moments here and there are entertaining, and most episodes are only 40-50 minutes long, so they’re practically over before you can get too irritated with them.

Is that a recommendation? Hardly. But I’ve hate-watched shows a lot worse than this one. Take that for what it’s worth.


    • Josh Zyber

      I saw a couple episodes of that. I don’t recall it being about a group of strangers trapped on a tropical island, where they encounter strange clues (including mysterious numbers, and hidden buildings, and a hostile group of Others!) to a possibly supernatural puzzle box mystery.

      Because that’s exactly what this is, beat for beat.

      It isn’t just trying to be *like* Lost. It’s trying to BE Lost.

      • Ice

        actually yeah, should have clarified…it gave me the same vibes that watching Lost did…without being a copy and paste of it…

        if you did liked Lost, I’d give Leftovers another go…there is a mystery, and flashbacks and stuff like that, but they don’t really try to go about explaining it and the sci-fi aspect of it the way Lost did…the theme song for Season 2 is even called ‘let the mystery be’

        • Josh Zyber

          I get what you’re saying. In the context of this review, though, The I-Land really is a copy/paste of Lost, which is the point I wanted to get across.

          The first couple episodes of The Leftovers didn’t do much for me. Too much misery and moping. I’m told that it gets better, but I haven’t found the time to revisit the show.

          • Ice

            yeah…I always find it crazy how some movies/shows can be a blatant rip off of another…

            The first few episodes of the Leftovers are depressing…I only started watching after it was finished, and after read a lot of good things about it…if it weren’t for that, I probably would have stopped after the first few episodes as well…

  1. njscorpio

    Ooooh, I really, really hated the first episode of this. Character behavior made little sense, I hated everyone, the dialog was terrible…and the worst part was you have all these folks who are like “I don’t know who I am, I don’t remember anything”, yet nobody says “hey, most of us have tattoos, perhaps these are clues to who we are…like the portrait tattoos on the hunky rapist.” I can’t emphisize enough, how much I hated watching this first episode.

    But…..someone in my household wants to watch the rest of it, and knowing it gets marginally better by the third episode, I guess I will just give up and watch it with them.

    • Josh Zyber

      I had the same thought about the tattoos. How did not a single character on the show notice them? I assume that was something originally written to be an important plot point, but the writers ultimately forgot about it and dropped it.

      If nothing else, the later episodes will at least confirm that Kate Bosworth hasn’t completely forgotten how to act.

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