The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996) is an American science fiction, thriller horror movie that is the third major movie adaptation of the novel, The Island of Doctor Moreau by the author, H. G. Wells. Director John Frankenheimer (Ronin (1998), The Manchurian Candidate (1962), Reindeer Games (2000)) did a poor job executing the screenplay about a scientist that tries to convert animals into people. The execution from the director was poor, but I still enjoyed the movie for what it is and felt that it had a lot of potential if it was executed properly. The movie contains thrills, suspense, adventure as promised, gore, horror, birth that might be frightening/terrifying for the younger audience, one f-word and more violence in the director’s cut and a great experience.
This film passed through many rough times and almost was not even completed. New Line Cinema managed to get Frankenheimer to complete the film even though the entire movie production was a mess. If you are interested in watching the documentary on the making of The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), you can watch Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley‘s Island of Dr. Moreau (2014). With all the woes in production, it is amazing that we even got a watchable film.
The Island of Dr. Moreau starts by showing how Edward and Montgomery meet in the year 2010. Edward Douglas (David Thewlis - Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004), Seven Years in Tibet (1997), The Theory of Everything (2014), Kingdom of Heaven (2005)) was a United Nations negotiator. Edwards’ plane crashed in the Java Sea and a boat that was passing by rescued him. Montgomery (Val Kilmer - Heat (1995), Batman Forever (1995), Top Gun (1986), The Prince of Egypt (1998)) was on that boat and told Douglas to go home with him so that he can use the radio to call for help. Montgomery warns Edward to refrain from wandering around his mansion on Moreau’s Island. Edward escapes his room after Montgomery locked him in and stumbled upon a human-animal hybrid giving birth to a mutant baby in a laboratory. Montgomery’s daughter Aissa (Fairuza Balk - American History X (1998), Almost Famous (2000), The Waterboy (1998), The Craft (1996)) aids Edward in escaping from the mansion. Edwards arrives in a village with mutant hybrids of different kinds. The mutants refer to Dr. Moreau (Marlon Brando - The Godfather (1972), Apocalypse Now (1979), Superman (1978), On the Waterfront (1954)) as “The Father." He controls the villagers/mutants by implanting something under their skin that allows him to use a remote control to inflict pain on them. Douglas eventually was handed over to Moreau and sat down with Moreau to have a peaceful conversation. They informed him how they put human DNA into animals to obtain species that is incapable of harm. There are no radios that work, no boats because they are overrun by rat-like creatures and no other way to leave the village. I did not see the outcome of the movie and thought it was a nice end to the movie.
Overall, I gave the movie a five because it was interesting to see all the different types of mutants and the movie kept my interest for the most of it. I found flaws in the acting, directorial skills, sets, cinematography and found a lot of goofs and plot holes. With all said, I still enjoy the movie, and a remake will be nice to watch. There was a continuation of suspense throughout the movie, and I felt as though I was on an adventure trying to solve the puzzle.
About The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
Starring: Ron Perlman, Frank Welker, David Thewlis, William Hootkins, Val Kilmer, Richard Stanley, Fairuza Balk, Temuera Morrison, Marlon Brando, Clare Grant, Peter Elliott, Marco Hofschneider, Neil Young, Mark Dacascos, Miguel López, Lou Horvath, Daniel Rigney, Nelson de la Rosa, David Hudson, Kitty Silver, Fiona Mahl, Agoes Widjaya Soedjarwo, Ron Vreeken
Director: Richard Stanley, John Frankenheimer
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