The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
Dir: John Frankenheimer, Richard Stanley
Star: David Thewlis, Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, Fairuza Balk, Ron Perlman
Cert / Year: 12 - PG13 / 1996
Format: Video

Edward Douglas (David Thewlis) is a UN negotiator whose plane crashes in the ocean. He survives only to be rescued by a supply ship heading to Moreau's island. The owner of the island is Dr. Moreau (Marlon Brando) a Nobel Prize winning geneticist who along with his assistant Montgomery (Val Kilmer) has been living there in exile after Moreau's experiments on animals were branded amoral. Douglas soon finds out the chilling truth that Moreau has been busy continuing his research. He has populated the island with half human half animal mutants in his belief that he can create the perfect creature, but his children are about to rebel.

This is the third film of the H.G. Wells book and without doubt the worst. A warning sign is that the stories that have been told about the making of this film are way more interesting than the film itself. This was a troubled production with awkward or incompetent stars, and a change in director. The end result is a tedious mess littered with unintentional comedy.

It is without doubt one of the main contributory factors to this films failure is the fact that the main cast are abysmal in their roles. It is rumored that Val Kilmer is not the easiest actor to work with and this would seem to be borne out when he allegedly got director Richard Stanley fired as he felt that he was working him to hard. In fact it is claimed that he was hired to play Edward Douglas but felt he preferred to play Montgomery so swapped with David Thewlis. Whether this is true are not it leads to two facts, the first is that Kilmerís laid back performance is lazy in the extreme, and secondly David Thewlis is a fine supporting actor but is out of his depth as a leading man. The other casting disaster is the inclusion of the bloated has been Marlon Brando as Moreau. It was said that he couldn't even remember his lines and had to receive them via an earpiece. Whatever the case the plain truth is he turns the character of Moreau into a giant monstrously camp joke.

With a cast seemingly hell bent on self destruction you might have felt pity for sacked director Richard Stanley (who after his sacking was said to infiltrated the set in disguise to keep an eye on the film), that is until you realise he was in part responsible for the script. Ok so it was reworked by John Frankenheimer (an experienced director that should have known better than churn out this rubbish) but there is no escaping the fact the story's pedestrian pace and ridiculously pretentious dialogue are a real setback. The film spends far too long on morals rather than concentrating on monsters which is were the excitement should be.

Well I say that, but the sad fact is that for once his illustrious career the Stan Winston creature effects are terrible. This isn't and island of monsters, but an island of blokes in silly furry suits. They are not convincing, they are not scary, and they are not very good.

The Island of Dr Moreau generates no excitement and no suspense. It is a showcase of bad acting, and it contains the least convincing creatures since the Banana Splits. Many of its scenes are hilariously bad, like the Doctor and his pet creature playing the pianos, or Kilmerís impression of Brando's Moreau. Watching the film is like watching a rather bland farce, a shining example of how a Jurassic Park style movie can go badly wrong. To add insult to injury there are two previous versions of the movie that are so much better, so in effect there should never be an excuse to watch this celluloid disaster ever again.


Through DNA experimentation Dr. Moreau has upset the balance of nature. By turning animals into humans, he's turned heaven into hell.


Dr. Moreau: I have seen the devil in my microscope, and I have chained him.

Sayer of the Law: To go on two legs is very hard. Perhaps four is better, anyway.

Hyena: There is no pain, there is no law!

Rating: 0 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home