So when we last saw Maxim (Vasily Stepanov) as the first ĎInhabited Islandí was coming to a close, he was tussling on top of a tank with his homeboy Guy Gaal (Pyotr Fyodorov) to try to convince his buddy to help him overthrow the government that Guy is so damn loyal to. And thus this is where we pick up ĎThe Inhabited Island: The Final Battleí. The first movie I thought was confusing as hell and I was really, really hoping by the time this sequel got to me a lot of the confusion would be all ironed out. Alas, it was not to be as I was treated with more glorious visual excess but less of the actress Yulia Snigir and Iím thinking way less coherence.
The basics of this story are simple enough. Maxim wants to somehow destroy the mind controlling mental rays that are broadcast by the Elders or the Commission or whatever the ruling party is called, and set these people free. Kind of like Neo. As a matter of fact when I think about it Maxim even has a Neo / Architect like conversation with this freaky little mystical kid while they debate the true meaning of Ďfreedomí. Regardless, even though every single person that Maxim runs into tells the young man that he needs to let well enough alone, he grabs his number one and off they go back to the Emerald City to bring down Oz and their fake wizards.
Back at the Emerald City, just like in the first movie, arch enemies Strider (Aleksey Serebryakov) and The Prosecutor (the films director Fyodor Bondarchuk) want to possess Maxim for reasons over four hours worth movie I have yet to completely figure out. The Prosecutor has even snatched up Maximís crazy hot girlfriend Radja (Snigir) to hold for ransom or something to lure Maxim back to the Emerald City even though heís heading there anyway.
This journey back to the city will not be an easy one for Maxim and Guy, despite the fact some strange dude just lent them a flying battle cruiser, as the journey is fraught with danger and amazing revelations. Very few of which I completely understood. But
again I know the basics of Maximís plan. Destroy the towers and free the people. ButÖ and think I understood this as wellÖ just like the freaky little boy with the missing mouth postulated, is freedom truly the best course of action for these people?
So while this second movie didnít do much to make what I had seen in the first film any more clearer, I donít think, upon further review, that it muddled things up any more than they were already muddled. Some of things that confused me in this movie centered around a war that was going on between a couple of factions in this movie, mainly because I donít know if the enemy was ever clearly defined and I didnít understand why they were fighting in the first place, yet this ongoing war was critical to the narrative of this film. There was a scene where Maxim and Guy received some critical information on a sunken sub but again, I just didnít get why it was so critical and what it all meant though it was obvious that this plot event was major to the film. Then there was Striderís and The Prosecutorís interest in Maxim. As it turns out Strider has a secret but once this secret is reveled I still didnít know why he needed to silence or remove Maxim from whatever equation he was working on.
There are some interesting things presented in the story such as Maximís dogged pursuit of freeing these people from their mental bondage and the alternative views by some of the other characters which counter his relentless pursuit, which also kind of mixes up the whole antagonist / protagonist dynamic of this story. In addition Maximís character also improved from the short distance from the first film to the second film, almost giddily joyful in the first film to a more somber darker character in the second film. Part of Maximís darkness might be attributed to the fact the he was detached from Rada for almost the entire movie which did mean we were detached from Yulia Snigir throughout most of the movie. Girl almost got me fired after those Google Images of her popped up on my computer. Just donít do it.
The special effects and the atmosphere that Bondarchuk has created for this film are still top notch though this second film relied less on the visual effects and more on pushing the story through, itís just that this added emphasis didnít help me understand this story any better.
I canít say that I liked either of the ĎInhabited Islandí movies though I can see their value. These are true science fiction films and ambitious films that Iím told are faithful to the source material, though the source material I hear is more dialog heavy where as the film interpretation we experienced is slanted toward the visual, as movies tend to be. My wish is simply that the story elements, which are obviously very deep and complex, could have been fleshed a little better for this audience member to get a clearer handle on.