Reviewed by: Ken James
Starring: Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, David Thewlis, Fairuza Balk, Marco Hofschneider, Ron Perlman / Director: John Frankenheimer
Based on the novel written by H.G. Wells a century ago, “The Island of Dr. Moreau” mixes 1990’s technology with the age-old idea of man playing God.
As the only survivor of a plane crash over the Java Sea, Edward Douglas (David Thewlis) is rescued after a week of drifting in the seemingly endless waters. His rescuer, the young and promising scientist Montgomery (Val Kilmer) is the sole assistant to Nobel Prize winner Dr. Moreau (Marlon Brando). Montgomery takes Douglas to the island “paradise” on which he works and lives, the island of Dr. Moreau.
Though it appears harmless at first, within the depths of this land lay 17 years of secret genetic engineering, the results of attempts to create the perfect human race by merging animal and human genes. Moreau envisions a race where evil no longer exists and “the devil” (believed to be the embodiment of destruction and debasement present in humankind) no longer inhabits humans. When Douglas stumbles upon this secret, he must find a way to get off the island, and escape the plans of his rescuers.
Through a chain of events, this peaceful island erupts into a bloody game of survival-of-the-fittest. The spectacular creatures in this film are fascinating to observe, but only for a time. As the beasts rebel against the authority they have been kept under for so long, the movie turns into a predictable story of death and destruction. Various scenes of grotesque nudity of these mutants are embellished with both profanity and obscenity. References to judgment, quoted from the Bible, surface in light of the dangerous actions taking place while “playing God.”
This dark story possesses only two qualities which I could count as “redeeming”: the special effects, and the call to viewers to contemplate the consequences of genetic engineering.
The film overlooks the most important truth of all: God is the Creator and Redeemer of humanity. He did create us perfect, but mankind chose to disobey. Man can never be free from evil until the world is made new again, by God’s grace reserved for those who will live forever with Him!
Year of Release—1996