Netflix's The I-Land Season 1 Review

Netflix's Another Lost

by Casimir Harlow

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Netflix's answer to Lost feels more like it was made by the people behind their terrible Another Life series, starring the cast rejects from that show too.

Although Lost's final resolution proved almost as controversial as the ending to Game of Thrones, there's no denying that it was - for the most part - compelling event TV, back in the day when shows like this and 24 were breaking the mould by telling season-long arcs rather than merely mystery-of-the-week episodes. The idea of Netflix bringing us their own variation on Lost doesn't feel immediately surprising, and much like Another Life 'borrowed' from countless other better sci-fi stories across its first season, The I-Land pools loose ideas from other 'strangers dropped into a mysterious puzzle' tales, expanding Lost's premise at half-speed to hint at themes of manipulation and oversight in the vein of Cube or The Maze Runner, and maybe even Westworld.

A bunch of seemingly complete strangers wake up scattered around a deserted island, with little memory of themselves let alone each other - and their names stitched on their clothes. As they try to do the basics - find water, food and start a fire - it's not long before tempers rise and factions emerge. Figuring there's some kind of mathematical reason for why they were placed equal distances apart on the island, and finding clues and warnings along the way, they soon realise that there's something nefarious at play here.

The I-Land is almost remarkable just for managing to combine a trifecta of terrible dialogue, terrible acting and a terrible premise

The I-Land is almost remarkable just for managing to combine a trifecta of terrible dialogue, terrible acting and a terrible premise, which falls off a cliff when you get to the end of the second episode and realise that nothing has happened. It tosses around attempted rape as a baton for the #MeToo movement, but forces such utterly contrived situations and unnatural responses that you can't help but be pulled right out of the story.

It's a 7-part Limited Series, and there's no way it should be taking its time making you sit through two whole episodes of nothingness before at least dipping into the mystery behind the curtain. Sure, come episode three, answers-of-sort are given, and the whole thing makes a seismic shift towards sci-fi, but the build-up was slow. Too slow.
The I-Land
Natalie Martinez (Death Race) leads the cast, playing a tough and resourceful protagonist but is just as constrained as the others by an appalling script. She tries to remain committed, and on-point, but her post-attempted-rape actions nearly derail even that effort. The show is infinitely better when we reach a point where she remains almost the sole focus, but two episodes of Love Island gone wrong will probably ensure that the majority of viewers have jumped off by that point.

The other islanders include Kate Bosworth (Superman Return's Lois Lane) whose abrasive antagonist is just painful to watch (sure, come episode 4 or 5 you might get some glimpse as to the reasons, but who cares by that point?) and Alex Pettyfer's would-be rapist, whilst latter-stage appearances from more familiar faces like Bruce McGill (Last Boy Scout, Exit Wounds) and Maria Conchita Alonso (Predator 2, The Running Man) attempt to salvage this mess. The cast mostly feel like Another Life rejects though, ridiculously prettified and woefully idiotic souls (again, perhaps you can sense an explanation coming, although there was no such luck with Another Life, but it's a thin excuse for basically casting a bunch of box-ticking twenty-somethings who would look good half-naked on an island, but can't act if it would literally save their lives).

Watch it whilst cooking, working on your laptop, and doing about five other things - in other words, give it the attention it deserves

Perhaps a 5 episode run, editing the first two episodes into one, skipping some of the random 'chats' in the third episode combining that with the fourth to get right back on the road, may have helped at least keep viewers invested, but this is really very banal programming. Even Another Life at least had some galaxy-hopping sci-fi allure about it even if it was utterly derivative and almost as painful to watch. If Netflix's new mantra is to start to prize quality over quantity, then this is definitely one that slipped under the radar.

Watch it whilst cooking, working on your laptop, and doing about five other things - in other words, give it the attention it deserves - and maybe you'll find it just about tolerable as elevator music, but this one does not come recommended. And to make matters worse, the Dolby Vision enhancement might be great but the supposed Dolby Atmos soundtrack - and in fact all the audio options - are horribly flawed by an abundance of what appears to be either ADR, or bad background effects, with the perpetual sound of crashing waves interfering with the quality of the dialogue. That's kind of a problem with a show set on an island... Not that you'll care, with any luck you won't be listening to anything they are saying.

Scores

Verdict

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4
4
AVForumsSCORE
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