Ewan McGregor’s Weird Sci-Fi Box Office Bomb Is Streaming For Free 

You can catch Ewan McGregor's film, The Island, for free on Pluto right now.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

ewan mcgregor the island

Thanks to the prequel trilogy and the later Obi-Wan Kenobi television series, fans tend to associate Ewan McGregor with Star Wars. While that’s certainly understandable, you might be surprised by how often you can say “hello there” to this actor appearing in other science fiction projects. And one of the best projects was Michael Bay’s dystopian science fiction film The Island, which you can now stream for free on Pluto.

If you like classic sci-fi stories, then the general premise of The Island will be like catnip. Ewan McGregor plays a character who lives in an isolated dystopia that holds many sinister secrets, including shocking truths surrounding subjects such as organ harvesting. When he tries to escape and warn the world about the horrible things he has learned, he finds himself cut off from the rest of the world and in a race against time to escape the island home that now serves as his prison.

Should the premise not be enough to get you to watch this film, you should know that it’s worth streaming if only to spot all of the big names that joined Ewan McGregor in this ambitious film. Many of the names are now primarily associated with genre entertainment, including Scarlett Johansson (best known for playing Black Widow in the MCU) and Sean Bean (arguably best known for playing Ed Stark in Game of Thrones). And they are joined by killer character actors including Steve Buscemi and Michael Clarke Duncan.

When the movie first came out, critics and audiences alike were not that impressed by The Island. While the performances of Ewan McGregor and the rest of the cast are generally praised, the movie currently has a 39 percent critical score on Rotten Tomatoes, with professional critics noting that the interesting story is bogged down by the typical action scenes and explosions you’d expect from a Michael Bay film. To this day, Bay is best known for the bombast of the Transformers movies, and many critics thought he was ill-suited to bring this nuanced science fiction story to life.

However, it should be noted that The Island has a much higher Rotten Tomatoes audience score of 63 percent. This helps show that outside of elite film critic circles, the general public happens to like it when directors mash cool science fiction concepts together with awesome action scenes and set pieces. If nothing else, the insane success of Ewan McGregor’s Star Wars prequels in the face of similar criticism is proof of that.

Over time, this movie has become something of a cult classic for many reasons, including the fact that the story from this film is what you’d get if you threw several popular science fiction films into a blender. For example, it was directly influenced by films like THX 1138 (the student film George Lucas made before he got into the money printing business) and Logan’s Run (a film in which the price of utopia is hunting and killing people once they turn 30).

It also has so much influence from the Ray Bradbury novel Fahrenheit 451 that even the kid who flunked out of your senior English class in high school could recognize it when he watches this Ewan McGregor movie.

All of this helps to explain why this movie is experiencing something of a renaissance on streaming: in a world where algorithms often dictate what new films we check out, this movie ticks a lot of different boxes for a lot of different people. If you liked the criminally underwatched Marvel show Legion, you’ll dig The Island, but you’ll also like this film if you’re a big fan of Michael Bay’s The Rock.

It resonates with fans of surreal sci-fi like Chappie (the kind of droid Ewan McGregor’s Obi-Wan Kenobi never had to deal with), but it’s also a favorite film among fans of John Carpenter’s Escape From New York.  

In short, there are plenty of reasons you should stream The Island, and not just because you want to see actors like Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson in their prime. This film is a compelling exploration of what both greed and technology can do to society, but it couples all of its potential social messages in a healthy veneer of action scenes that keep your pulse racing. Finally, you can stream this movie for free on Pluto, which is a great alternative to using the Jedi mind trick and telling other streaming platforms this is not the debit card they are looking for.