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The Island of Dr. Moreau

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Island of Dr. Moreau

Starring: Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer
Director: John Frankenheimer
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 96 Minutes
Release Date: August 1996
Genres: Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy

*Also starring: David Thewlis, Fairuza Balk, Temuera Morrison, Ron Perlman, Marco Hofschneider, William Hootkins, Daniel Rigney, Nelson de la Rosa

Review by Dragan Antulov
½ star out of 4

Some movies have misfortune of being made before their time. In case of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU, 1996 science fiction adventure directed by John Frankenheimer, that time was only few months in the future. Considering the film's subject matter, the movie could have gained much more publicity if its release have coincided with the news about sheep Dolly. However, that wasn't the film's only misfortune.

The plot, based on the classic science fiction novel by H.G. Wells, starts in 2015. Edward Douglas (played by David Thewlis), member of UN peace mission, is the only survivor of the plane crash. His life raft, that drifts across Java Sea, is rescued by Montgomery (played by Val Kilmer), a neurosurgeon who works in the island compound ran by famous geneticist Dr. Moreau (played by Marlon Brando). Once on the island, Douglas is cautioned never to leave his premises and he soon finds out why. It turns out that Dr. Moreau, in the attempt to make a better human being, spliced the human and animal genes. The island is populated by results of such experiments - half-human half-animal "hybrids" burdened by identity crisis. Dr. Moreau uses sophisticated electronic equipment and drugs in order to keep "hybrids" under control, but mysterious absenc of Montgomery would gradually create chaos.

Shooting of THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU was burdened with enormous problems - Val Kilmer acting like primadona, endless re- writes of the screenplay, director Robert Stanley being fired over "creative differences" and few actors literally trying to escape from the set, being traumatised by harsh conditions in Australian locations. All that was hardly recipe for success and John Frankenheimer, hired to finish the shooting, could do very little to save this film from its fate. The plot is disorganised mess and even the presence of Stan Winston couldn't prevent "hybrids" from looking like real people under bad make-up. The message about man's inability to play with nature is buried somewhere beneath all this nonsense. There are few interesting and unintentionally funny moments in the film - Fairuza Balk doing a little bit of belly-dancing, Marlon Brando's character trying to stop mutants by playing "Rhapsody in Blue" on piano and Val Kilmer doing superb Marlon Brando impersonation. But fans of H.G. Wells and genre films in general would do themselves a service if they skip this one.

Copyright 2003 Dragan Antulov

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