The Island of Dr. Moreau

Critics Consensus

The Island of Dr. Moreau takes a reasonably entertaining pass at adapting its classic source material, although key scenes are let down by struggles with special effects.



Reviews Counted: 23

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Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,508


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Reviews Count: 0
Fresh: 0
Rotten: 0


Average Rating: 3/5

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Movie Info

In The Island of Dr. Moreau, which is based on a novella by H.G. Wells, Braddock (Michael York) is a decent young Englishman who has unaccountably been saved from being thrown overboard from a ship sailing in a remote area of the Pacific by the mysterious Dr. Montgomery (Nigel Davenport). Dr. Montgomery is accompanying a cargo of animals destined for a tropical island. At first an "honored guest" (prisoner) on that island, he is finds his contacts with the natives increasingly disturbing, for they are not like any men he has ever seen. Eventually it transpires that these "men" are experimental reconstructions from wild animals made by a particularly sinister scientist, Dr. Moreau (Burt Lancaster). He feels that he is in danger from the animal/men and from Dr. Moreau himself and does not know where to turn. This story was also filmed in 1933 as The Island of Lost Souls, starring Charles Laughton as the monomaniacal Dr. Moreau and was remade yet again in 1996 with Marlon Brando in the title role.

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Critic Reviews for The Island of Dr. Moreau

All Critics (23) | Top Critics (3)

  • Lancaster, despite his ungodly ideas, is given some resonance as a man who thinks his demented work is for the betterment of the human race. York gives one of his best performances, and Barbara Carrera's enigmatic beauty is evocatively treated.

    Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Top Critic
  • Only Michael York's metamorphosis into a beast has any impact, and the film predictably fails to follow through even on that.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    David Pirie

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The performers display a kind of disciplined intelligence that keeps them from bursting through the style of the film into comic limbo.

    May 9, 2005 | Full Review…
  • A couple of unnecessary narrative additions aside, The Island of Doctor Moreau is a well-made adaptation of an important sci-fi novel.

    Sep 26, 2018 | Full Review…
  • There are some really strong performances here and an amazing setting; I think what lets this version down is the element of transformation that has proven troublesome for all the film versions of The Island of Dr. Moreau.

    Sep 26, 2018 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Miscast Lancaster fails to be a compelling figure - either tragic or malevolent - and the entire film collapses around him.

    Sep 26, 2018 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Island of Dr. Moreau

This movie does have some good creepiness, but overall, the story and acting aren't very good, and the movie is pretty bad. I recommend seeing the 30s version instead.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

Enjoyable but dated with that distinctive 70's aura. Michael York seems perfectly cast as a shipwreck survivor who stumbles upon Dr. Moreau (Burt Lancaster) and his little island of horrors.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


I struggled with this and varous other remakes. I was never sure of the overall message it was trying to put out. I might have missed it but there you go.

Barry Lappin
Barry Lappin

Super Reviewer


Being of my generation, I first saw Michael York as Austin Powers' boss. Seems in the 70s he was quite the adventure/scifi hunk, as Logan's Run is still fresh in my mind. Here in this movie, he is touch and go with his acting, and the critical transformation scene(s) were noticeably underwhelming and amateurish. I can't compare this to the book or the 1996 film as I haven't read/seen them in a while, and I can't contrast it to Island of Lost Souls as I haven't seen that version yet. I love the Dr. Moreau story, and it would seem a simple translation to film in terms of choosing story elements, but the plotting of this feels very forced and as unnatural as the doctor's animal-people. The story is one that addresses many philosophical issues in an astute manner, but this movie's dialogue and plot elements do not reflect these issues, as the movie is devoid of subtext. The most wasted role is that of Maria, as her character's interesting development (which is a plot whopper in the book) is completely left out. The makeup is amazing with the exception of the halfish job done on York. I think the creatures' eyes could have been somehow modified to be better, as I've found some of the most terrifying images in my subconscious are that of frenzied animalistic eyes with a distinctly human awareness in it, and it's the only reason I've been scared by the occasional werewolf or vampire costume design. There is pretty minimal blood in this, but a lot of questionable animal handling practices and loud growls. Many peg this movie as horror, but it is distinctly adventure scifi, and if it scares, that is because the underlying premise of the Dr. Moreau story is a looking glass. It is a fun adventure scifi, and if you like the story, you must see this. If you are new to the Moreau story, I'd suggest starting with the book.

_kelly .King
_kelly .King

Super Reviewer

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