The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

Island_of_dr_moreau_ver2

Genre: Sci-Fi, Horror

Cast: Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, David Thewlis

Synopsis: After surviving a plane crash into the Java Sea, a UN negotiator winds up onto the private island of the crazed Dr. Moreau who has created a bunch of human-animal hybrids…presumably because he had nothing better to do with his time.

If there was ever a movie that went through “production hell” then it was this one. According to Hollywood gossip (and Wikipedia of course), everybody involved in this movie hated everybody else. Val Kilmer was going through a divorce during filming and was apparently very unprofessional on set, Marlon Brando couldn’t be bothered to learn his lines because they kept changing and had to have them read to him through an ear-piece, and the original director was fired after three days because he couldn’t keep control of the set and was eventually replaced by John Frankenheimer. The producers should have taken all this misfortune as a sign from God that this movie should not be made. Unfortunately, they didn’t listen.

Because I had heard so much bad press about this movie, I was expecting it to be terrible but I mean a M. Night Shymalan kind of terrible. I wouldn’t say that this movie was that awful but it wasn’t particularly good either. However, the movie did contain a number of WTF surprises I was not prepared for. For instance, I had no clue that Marlon Brando would show up as some sort of fruity, sarong-wearing pope. Similarly, I wasn’t expecting the piano interlude with the midget…or the scene in which the midget is naked…or the scene where Val Kilmer gets all the hybrids high and has some sort of weird Shakespearean orgy. For a lot of the movie, I just stared at the screen with my mouth agape.

For all the weirdness and occasional hilarity, it’s still difficult to hide the fact that this movie is like the low-budget/meth addicted brother of Jurassic Park. The two movies largely deal with the same issues but there was finesse, subtlety and style in Jurassic Park whereas in The Island of Dr. Moreau you have a shot of Val Kilmer crossing his legs like Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct. I think I saw some balls. In this film, the whole ‘line between humanity and animality’ (not the Mortal Kombat kind) theme is just so bloody obvious and I don’t like obviousness in my sci-fi films. The monologue at the end just made me want to punch myself in the face. The themes in this movie are interesting and I often like to ruminate on ideas of humanity, evolution, and what separates us from other animals but this film approached those themes in such a ham-fisted way.

I am thankful, however, that this movie made me think of Jurassic Park because now I have a craving to watch that. At least in Jurassic Park I won’t see any naked midgets and John Hammond isn’t the crazy gay pope with an allergy to sunshine.

High-lights:

  • The bit where Marlon Brando starts to play Rhapsody in Blue was pretty cool…although I imagine it wasn’t him.
  • The fact that the crazy one from The Craft is in it and does this “sexy” towel dance.
  • Who the fuck is Val Kilmer in this movie and why did he decide to introduce vice to the hybrids??? It’s not like he’s earning money from that.
  • I never thought I would see Marlon Brando be savaged by a hyena-pig-man.

Downers:

  • The dialogue and acting is too hammy.
  • Naked midget.
  • The hybrid birth-scene was just completely unnecessary.
  • The human-rat hybrids are just…facepalm.
  • None of the character’s motivations are explored. Why the fuck did the doctor decide to create these animals and what is he accomplishing by splicing human genes with animal genes? Also, why is Val Kilmer even in this movie and why does he act like a psycho?

Summary:

If someone came up to me and said: “You know, I think I might watch the Island of Dr. Moreau” I’d just hand them a copy of Jurassic Park. If you’re on your own and looking for something enjoyable to watch then I wouldn’t recommend this movie. If you’re with friends and want to take the piss out of something then this movie could provide some laughs. This movie is like playing with fire. I just hope you know what you’re getting into if you watch this.

4/10

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3 Comments

Filed under Crap, Horror, Sci-Fi

3 responses to “The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)

  1. I feel like a fan of the movie would say, “Well, you should’ve read HG Wells’ novel to know the motivations and stuff!” That’s always a bad argument because a book-to-movie adaptation should ALWAYS be able to stand on its own two feet without relying on source material as a crutch.

  2. “Naked Midget” Haha! Oh yeah that was indeed a downer. I saw this movie in the theaters and I was quite inebriated when I did and even in that condition I still walked out. Ugh what a mess. Great review! I like how you split up the pros and cons of the movies. Very cool.

  3. Pingback: The Ghost and the Darkness (1996) | bakedmoviereviews

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