3 September 2001 | Eric-1226
Go rent it! WAY better than the negative reviews...
You will have to chalk me up as belonging to that camp of viewers who actually *wanted* to see a truly horrid film (as based on all the negative reviews) only to discover to our delight that there was a gem of a movie hiding there all along.
For me, watching the film was a *great* escapist experience. I felt exactly what the character played by David Thewlis would have felt, had I been in a similar "lost in the middle of the ocean, end up on a strange island" sort of predicament. The movie did a superb job of instantly whisking me away to a strange and beautiful and ominous place - the Island of Dr. Moreau - and I found myself staying with the fantasy the whole way through.
The cinematography was just beautiful, and if you have ever been in or near the tropics, the filming and the movie setting did an awesome job of conveying that hot, thick, humid, teeming-with-life feel that can only be found in the tropics.
I really enjoyed the eery background music, it really added to the overall creepiness of the whole weird "mad-science-gone-amok" theme of the story. Plus that scene where David Thewlis first encounters Faruiza Balk, and she starts to dance to that utterly hypnotic and awesome Balinese music, was just too spine-tingling for words. I only regret that I haven't been able to locate any soundtrack information yet on the movie, so I don't know who played that song, but the whole scene was absolutely and truly memorable. I'd watch it again just for that song and dance scene alone.
I noticed that many people didn't like the acting or the characterizations. I, on the other hand, felt that the four main characters (Brando, Kilmer, Thewlis, and Balk) were flawless in their depiction of a familiar tale. Brando was admittedly "weird" - but hey, give the guy his due, he was SUPPOSED to be a weird, crazed scientist. What were you expecting, the Maytag Repairman? Kilmer was deliciously evil, can't say enough good about Val Kilmer, he's always been one of my very favorite actors, and he DID NOT disappoint in this film, either. Balk, as mentioned above, was just awesome (and I REALLY liked the scene where she and "father" Brando had their moment of emotional bonding). Thewlis was right spot-on with his interpretation of an innocent "sane" observer who barely made it off this mad-house of an island without totally losing his own sanity. I think I would have done exactly as he had done, in his circumstances. Well Acted! Bravo!
One scene that didn't work for me was early on when the man-beasts were shown to be delivering a hideous-looking baby from a hideous-looking beast-woman. I don't know, but somehow I felt that it should have been Dr. Moreau and Montgomery (Brando and Kilmer) who should have been the doctors doing the delivery. Nevertheless, it was a truly creepy scene.
Finally, I thought the movie was well-stocked with thought-provoking comments on the morality of scientific experimentation. The scene at the dinner table, where Brando expounds on his personal views, comes to mind, as does the final parting comments, voiced by Thewlis. I had to watch the movie several times just to hear those words. They will REALLY make you think. I truly believe this movie should be seen and actively discussed by students at high school or college level - not just in science prep classes, but philosophy and social science courses as well. I don't care what the naysayers have to say, this was by no means an empty or shallow movie.
So, go take a trip to the Island of Dr. Moreau. You won't come back unchanged....