The Island of Dr. Moreau - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Island of Dr. Moreau Reviews

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October 16, 2016
Wow! What a f**ked up film! The original director fired half way through, he managed to sneak back on set as an extra and is seen in background!
Marlon Brando didn't give af and still gives a crazy performance that mesmerizes(especially with his 'mini me' beside him!)
Crappy cgi and a hostile Val Kilmer don't help this mess much.
September 4, 2016
not too bad. didn't see the previous versions. The mutants reminded me of the first ninja turtles movies.
½ February 19, 2016
Panned as a product of abhorrent filmmaking, The Island of Dr. Moreau sounded like a potentially entertaining terrible film.

Based on a screenplay penned by Richard Stanley and Ron Hutchinson, The Island of Dr. Moreau originally had the former on board as the director. But like the many actors who left the production shortly before filming began and Rob Morrow who left after a day, Richard Stanley ultimately departed his duties having disappeared to cope with a mental breakdown. He left a week into principal photography due to the self-obsessive on-set antics of Val Kilmer who made the production hell for everybody. So The Island of Dr. Moreau was doomed before it began, a broken production left for John Frankenheimer to piece together. It doesn't take long before viewers can conclude that he was no saviour, largely because the production is beyond rescue.
There isn't much of a great mystery behind the titular Dr. Moreau. It's mentioned in passing that he disappeared and was presumed dead, but the actors seem hardly interested in this. The characters aren't that interesting in the first place as characterization takes a back seat to spectacle, and so the script is left to be oversimplified with rare references to any profound themes of intellect.The concept of a mad scientists attempting to convert animals into people has good potential for science fiction and thrills with even ethical concepts paving the way for potential drama. Instead, The Island of Dr. Moreau takes its concept and churns out a half-assed drama about general life on the island and the way it is run without any insight into profound themes. There is no telling what Richard Stanley might have done with the story, but John Frankenheimer has proven on many occasions that he is a visual artists first and a storyteller second. Bringing him in last-minute to a hellish production with faulty special effects puts his testicles straight into a bear trap, and the limitations imposed on him results in meandering elements of visual grace and a story with no social commentary whatsoever.
Visually, the scenery in The Island of Dr. Moreau is marvellous. With Richaerd Stanley's keen eye for imagery, the cinematography works to capture the beauty of the Australian scenery with gracefully moving wide-screen cinematography. There is a lot of colourful life the surrounds the story in The Island of Dr. Moreau. Alas, the grace of the locations is blunted by the creatures that inhabit them. The creatures in The Island of Dr. Moreau are supposedly human-animal hybrids, but they instead look like burn victims with pubic hair taped to their face. Seemingly an inspiration for the incredibly awkward design of the Psychlos from the catastrophic science fiction box office bomb Battlefield Earth (2000), there is nothing impressive about the makeup work in The Island of Dr. Moreau. I am reminded of a scene in the action-comedy satire Team America: World Police (2004) where a facial reconstruction of one of the puppets is undertaken with the result being little more than paint and hair being stuck on his face as part of the joke. As if Academy Award-winning makeup artist Stan Winston is playing a joke on audiences, the creatures from The Island of Dr. Moreau are of little more convincement than the actors in gorilla suits from Congo (1995) the previous year. The makeup effects in the low-budget horror film The Howling (1981) were superior, even though that film preceded The Island of Dr. Moreau by 15 years and cost a meagre $1.5 million. Viewers will get so caught up in the incomprehensible ugliness of the creatures in The Island of Dr. Moreau that they may forget about the overtly shallow nature of the story, but it drags the credibility of the production out the door and leaves it with no chance of achieving an intense mood that it may desire. Frankly, the greatest mark The Island of Dr. Moreau made on history was inspiring the creation of the South Park (1997-present) characters Dr. Alphonse Mephesto and Kevin.
The one aspect I will give consistent credit to is the musical score. Though the film has no hope of achieving intensity, the work of Gary Chang manages to combine elements of the jungle setting and simple thriller elements. It's not transcendent, but amid the countless flaws in The Island of Dr. Moreau it is the one thing I would call good. When considering the music and the sound effects, I would almost conclude that The Island of Dr. Moreau is better on the ears than the eyes if not for the weak dialogue and lacklustre cast responsible for delivering it.
Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer battle for the Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actor in The Island of Dr. Moreau. Both deliver poor performances, but it ultimately goes home with the more deserved of the two, Marlon Brando. The films made by Marlon Brando during his post-The Godfather (1972) proved mostly to be glorified cameos and supporting roles intended to bring him more money than credibility. The Island of Dr. Moreau is of course no exception to this since he doesn't bear his face until 30 minutes into the film. Returning to the role of an insane Jungle man after playing such a part to iconic results in Apocalypse Now (1979), the two roles beg for comparisons. Yet while Colonel Walter E. Kurtz was a psychotic genius buried beneath shadow, Dr. Moreau is an overweight bumbling fool with more of a pretentious nature than an insane one. When he goes into his monologue about his passion for animal experimentation, all I could hear was the voice of Ian McDiarmid telling me the tragedy of Darth Plagueis the Wise as he did in Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith (2005). The two-time Academy Award winner is little more than an overweight bumbling fool in The Island of Dr. Moreau, a role that could be called the absolute worst of his career. Anyone looking at this film without a knowledge of Marlon Brando's prior history would never have guessed that he is considered a screen legend.
Val Kilmer's casting in The Island of Dr. Moreau was as a last-minute replacement for James Woods. While the character Dr. Montgomery is hardly interesting in the first place, the intrinsic nature of James Woods could have been enough of a gimmick to add mild entertainment to The Island of Dr. Moreau. Val Kilmer has none of that, he is simply a decent actor in the right role. However, Dr. Montgomery is not the right role. Val Kilmer has few iconic traits about him, and in The Island of Dr. Moreau he has to rely on them to carry the lifeless role that he made the entire production hell in an effort to play. It's odd that nobody saw fit to fire the man when his behaviour was so outlandish or even when his performance was so poor, but I guess the entire production was in too deep by this point. The fact is that Val Kilmer has no feeling of dramatic charisma or psychosis in The Island of Dr. Moreau and gave Richard Stanley a mental breakdown for nothing.
David Thewlis also fails to make an impact. Though he is the protagonist, Edward Douglas is reduced to being a forgettable supporting character who spends the entirety of the film looking at the surrounding world with the same confusion as viewers. In that sense he is the most sympathetic character of the film, but he is still generic. David Thewlis has little to say so there is nothing pretentious or potentially dislikeable about him, he is simply a shell of a character pushed through a series of meaningless plot dynamics so that the film can pretend it has a protagonist. It's simple a waste of his time.
The first thing Fairuza Balk is seen doing in The Island of Dr. Moreau is dancing around awkwardly to repetitive music in an attempt to capture some kind of mystique, but there is nothing there. She seems as confused by everything as David Thewlis, and though she has her own dramatic subplot it is never truly realized. There are moments of meandering flair where you can see she is trying, but everything around her works to destroy her talents. It is a true shame since she was a talented star of the 90's decade having played such roles as the gothic antagonist Nancy Downs in The Craft (1996) during the same year. She's the one cast member who is really any good.
Lastly, The fact that Ron Perlman is one of the many actors beneath the pathetic makeup is incredibly insulting to the man's credit as an actor. Having played the role of Vincent the titular Beast on Beauty and the Beast (1987-1990) and winning a Golden Globe in the process, the man his revealed his natural talents for acting as an anthropomorphic creature beneath good makeup effects. Since The Island of Dr. Moreau has none of those but still puts him in such a role, he is condemned to be one of the many poorly designed creatures and cannot push his charisma beyond it. He isn't given much time to try anyway, and the script doesn't care enough to help him.

The Island of Dr. Moreau has an interesting idea at heart and some nice scenery, but with the production of the film being a ticking time bomb, it explodes into a lifelessly slow collection of meaningless incomprehensible drama, poor prosthetics and a distinct lack of thrills
January 19, 2016
Well, Moreau wasn't as bad as it could've been. But it was clear Frankenheimer had no idea how to make the script work... Or how to shoot around two bozos... Or even how to make Lupin and Dorothy Gale's love story work. I hate to say it, but Brando really is the best part of the movie. He's sweet (despite having lines read to him) and with that wee little man, he's memorable. But Stanley's version of Aissa's death was way better, darker, and cynical. Knowing that really makes the rewritten fate of the character just absolutely horrid... And ineffective.
October 28, 2015
This movie was awful in so many ways. CGI use before CGI should have been used. The attempt to reduce the devil who is a very real and very sentient spiritual being who truly does operate in this world, into a selection of genes that make people and animals evil... foolishness. It's no wonder the cast and crew had seances on the island while filming and went quite crazy. Also, the whole premise of the movie being about the law meaning nothing without the 'Father' etc, likely trying to cause so many of us watching to feel liberated towards debauchery, but the movie misses the part where Dr. moreau didn't actually have any real authority whatsoever. God however does.
½ August 27, 2015
As dark and edgy as an episode of Thundercats, and let it be a lesson, never have a "carry on" movie marathon before undertaking the role of Dr Moreau. What the hell was Brando thinking?
August 23, 2015
Having watched Lost Soul, I can't help but be fascinated by the movie. And surprisingly, for all it's flaws, none are damning.
May 16, 2015
All to often do we say "watch the original" when it comes to remakes. This is a great example of that.
May 1, 2015
Anarchist would love this film because of the mob rule madness that gets created but movie goers will be befuddled by this unfocused effort.
April 1, 2015
The concept is intriguing in a Jurassic Park sort of way where "playing God" turns out to be a disaster for the delusional mad scientist who believes that he's serving a higher purpose for the greater good of society. The main problem I had is that it doesn't flow in an organic sort of way and even though Val Kilmer did well enough pulling off a really bizarre impersonation of the "father" his descent into madness is like whiplash. One moment he's a law enforcement officer of sorts and the next he's all crazy pants with no real explanation. I also don't understand the "old and wise" goat man character. I'm assuming he must be a parody of preachers testifying about the Lord and the "father" is his God but he's just too out of place among the other characters and is overly contrived to get a point across when he's not necessary in the story at all. The other characters get the point across just fine without him. Despite all of that and more I didn't mention this movie is still somehow fascinating and has a haunting quality to it that gets under the skin. I think part of it comes from the concept of the "perfect creature" being a cat woman. She is indirectly portrayed as a black cat woman (no explanation of that needed) mixed with the Stones "Under my Thumb". I can't be the first person to point that out.
November 3, 2014
one of my childhood faves
August 28, 2014
I don't get why people hate this movie
½ August 8, 2014
Hilariously insane. The entire film is just a series of random things happening for no reason. Each of the leads is wonderful to watch. Marlon Brandeau gets to ham it up as a crazy person and give grand dramatic speeches that are mostly just random words strung together. And oh, that hat. David Thewlis shows us every possible variation of stunned surprise. And Val Kilmer alternates between playing Brando and just being a laid back stoner. I have no idea why any of the plot happened but it was fun to watch them react.
July 18, 2014
How does this stuff make it to film?
June 1, 2014
The plot was a muddled up mess and I truely feel sorry for the actors.
½ May 25, 2014
Altough it have a good premise and a story to explode, the direction didn't tried to give a better approach. The only acceptable performance was Brandon's, the rest was overplayed or irrealistic. A good flick to try a modern remake.
½ April 29, 2014
The poor man's Planet of the Apes.
April 28, 2014
Oh man! I wish Rotten Tomatoes would let you add negative stars!!

It is breath-taking how horrible this movie was. I can't even tell you to watch to gain some laughs at how truly terrible a film can be ---- that it is so bad it becomes worth watching...

This thing is just too painful to watch. My goodness, look at the talent that was involved!!! This makes old, dirt-cheap B-movies look like Citizen Kane!!!

You should, however, read the behind the scenes story to get an idea about how truly off its rocker the filming of this turd was at the time...
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