A ship-wrecked man floats ashore on an island in the Pacific Ocean. The island is inhabited by a scientist, Dr. Moreau, who in an experiment has turned beasts into human beings. Written by
Excellent first halve compensates for weaker and more formulaic second.
Especially if you don't know what this movie is about before you're going to watch it, you'll be gripped by its mysterious and tense build up.
To be frank, this movie has one of the best and most tense story build ups I have seen in a long time. For a long time it remains unclear what exactly is going on and what the movie will be about. As the movie progresses the movie does loose some of its power and tension, when it falls into some obvious clichés and formulaic genre elements, plus some just plain odd and poorly done sequences. But all is forgiven. All in all this version of the H.G. Wells remains a well done one, with plenty of enough tense and mysterious moments in it, which absolutely makes this movie distinct itself from other genre movies. In a way the movie and its build up and atmosphere really reminded me of "Planet of the Apes (1968)"
The build up and atmosphere is amazing in the first halve. It doesn't use any fancy tricks but leaves lots of things up to the viewers own imagination. The second halve is however quite different and in fact is nothing more than a typical genre piece from the '70's. Everything gets explained but at the same time everything also is far from believable. The horror/monster elements are hardly refreshing or new and in a way degrade the story- and the movie in general. It definitely makes the second halve of the movie not as good as the first but the first halve builds up so many things in a great way, that the second halve can't really ruin it that much. "The Island of Dr. Moreau" at all times remains a perfectly good watchable movie that is unique and a standout in its genre.
Burt Lancaster does a good job at keeping his role simple and mysterious. Michael York works out way better as the main hero than you at first would expect.
The settings are nice and so is the rest of the visual look. The make-up effects might look perhaps a bit outdated in todays perspective but they're actually quite above par. Also the musical score from Laurence Rosenthal is surprising great and works effective in the movie.
Just forget the '96 version. This movie is in my opinion surprisingly a real must-see!
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