Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

It is 2157 in the year of our Lord in this movie ĎThe Inhabited Islandí as we ride in a single person spaceship of Moscow based homeboy Maxim Kammerer, played by actor Vasily Stepanov, who could very well be the unholy bastard love child of Paul Walker and Hayden Christensen, that is if such a thing were biologically possible but it is the future so who knows? Even though itís the future, kids will be kids no matter what the time frame and Maxim is arguing with granny back on earth who wants him to finish his studies, but Maxim would much rather hitchhike across the universe and see what the galaxy has to offer. Then he hits a meteor shower, crashes on some planet, watches his ship explode, gets taken prisoner by some weird looking dude with terrible teeth and now Maximís adventure in this planets totalitarian world is about to begin.

Now allow me to work through some things here because this is really one confusing ass movie. So this planet is ruled by a consortium of bureaucrats led by some dude who they call Papa (Maksim Sukhanov). Working directly under Papa making things happen are Strider (Aleksei Serebryakov) and Prosecutor (the films director Fyodor Bondarchuk) who are at constant odds with each other. Both have gotten wind of the presence of our hero Maxim and both want him to examine him because Maximís unique physiology holds some valuable secrets that both men want to use to their advantage.

Meanwhile Maxim has managed to free himself from his captors, become fast friends with the soldier Guy Gaal (Pyotr Fyodorov) whose life he saved during an attack and has fallen in love Guyís incredibly physically blessed sister Rada (Yuliya Snigir). Resigned to the fact that it looks like heís stuck on this planet, this unfortunate situation lessened considerably by the fact he gets to cozy up to hottest woman on this entire planet, Maxim attempts to make the best of his situation and even joins the

defense force with his best buddy. We should also mention that in addition to Maxim having the blondest hair and the bluest eyes he also possesses Jet Liís fighting skills and can heal himself like Wolverine. Apparently during this particular time period on the planet Earth, there is nothing all that special or unique about these abilities. But on this planet it almost makes Maxim like a god. Regardless soon everything that Maxim once thought about his new home is about to change. Except his feelings towards his crazy hot girlfriend.

So as we have already observed totalitarianism reigns supreme on this planet and you canít have a totalitarian government without a resistance now can you? This resistance faction would be those the government has termed The Degenerates, and these Degenerates are hard to miss since every day at ten a siren goes out and anyone who happens to be a degenerate suffers through violent convulsions and foams at the mouth which usually gets them stoned or thrown in jail for their trouble. Maxim soon learns that these Degenerates arenít so degenerate after all, and after he refuses to do something quite unconscionable he ends up aligning himself with them to bring down this oppressive regime. Can one incredibly happy good looking blonde kid overthrow the government of an entire planet? I think itís fair to tell you that youíre going to have to wait for the sequel to find out that information.

Based on a popular Russian novel by the Strugatsky Brothers it is said that Fyodor Bondarchukís film is quite faithful to its source material. So much so that so there is another two hour movie floating around out there to conclude this rather long and extremely convoluted epic story. I believe this film illustrates a bit why filmmakers are generally forced to take some drastic creative liberties when adapting films from popular novels because novels tend to be dense, intricate and complicated whereas films are generally shallow visual exercises and thus these novels need to be thinned out a bit. The visuals were certainly there in ĎThe Inhabited Islandí as you might expect from a movie purported to be the most expensive Russian movie ever, but the story was very difficult to follow. Part of this is probably due to the complexity of the source material but another culprit is the fact that the films editing took this story all over the place. One minute we were here the next minute we were there and far too often we didnít know how we got from here to there which left me confused one time too many.

The performances by the actors were adequate enough though Vasily Stepanovís character of Maxim sure was happy and joyful throughout most of the movie, and no matter how dire the situation you could count on my man to have an amused look of joy on his face. The rest of the cast did a decent job of selling us on the environment and the atmosphere.

ĎThe Inhabited Islandí was scattershot, at times incoherent and often confusing but Bondarchuk didnít let his story get completely out of control and was able to get this rather vast unwieldy story back on track to at least keep us informed on the basics that were happening before us. Despite the confusion it was still very imaginative and very visual and if youíre a fan of these types of Sci-Fi flicks, you will find it difficult to pull yourself away from it. And when Part II makes it stateside I will be there watching hoping like hell to see something a little more focused.

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