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91 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2004
I can't stress enough how important it is for anyone considering seeing this movie to ignore the heaps of negative reviews here. Most justify their opinions by calling this film strange, grotesque, or both. Both are fitting, but there's alot more to this film than that, and those two things in themselves are not necessarily reason to dislike a film. Quite the contrary, when Hollywood is so overrun with unchallenging, unoriginal fodder.
I could praise the movie on any number of levels. Every actor here carries his or her eccentric role with a perfectly tasteful care not to go over the top or become too cartoonish. The dialogue is free of fluff and carries quite an element of eloquence, which is fitting when considering the overall dramatic intent. On a more basic level, the creature effects used on the half human, half animal hybrid creations inhabiting Moreau's Island are handled by none other than Stan Winston and done very well, and the soundtrack is appropriately eerie, with tribal drumming used in parts to enhance the mood. And, of course, the themes explored here, despite their familiarity (the power of instnct, and the danger of playing God), are driven home with potent efficiency, probably thanks to the extreme and sometimes bizzare nature in which they're handled.
The fact that this movie carries such a human element with it is what I really like about it. It's easy to feel for the man-beasts, tragic abominations intelligent enough to know they're nothing but the waste products of a madman's search for genetic perfection. The protagonist, as well, benefits from the fact that he is very much an introvert and probably speaks less than Val Kilmer, who is less vital to the plot. His quiet observation helps add to the realism and mold a film which could have easily been a silly mess into a moving, artfully crafted piece of work.
If you choose to judge this movie as harshly as most have, then go ahead, but at least see it first with an open mind. I for one feel a movie this bold deserves every bit of respect.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 26, 2009
The third filmed version of H.G. Wells's story (after 1932's "Island Of Lost Souls" and 1977's "Island Of Dr. Moreau") is a highly under-rated movie, that succeeds both as a part of the 'playing God' genre that (as with 'Frankenstein' and numerous more recent books and movies) looks at the idea of man reshaping both nature and himself to suit his whims; and as a riveting, at times tragic, monster-horror movie.

A plane crash leaves a UN diplomat (played by David Thewlis) the only survivor, adrift in a lifeboat, to be rescued by a boat bound for a mysterious island off the waters of Indonesia. Rescued and treated by the assistant (actually more like hired gun, as we're to find out shortly, and played by Val Kilmer) of the island's reclusive scientist/de facto ruler Dr. Moreau (Marlon Brando), Thewlis is completely unprepared for what he finds upon coming ashore, where the doctor has created a multitude of part-human, part-animal (various species, and possibly sometimes a combination of quite a few) creatures. The general story of the Island Of Dr. Moreau has become universally well-known over the decades through various tellings and re-tellings, and few people watching this would be surprised at the idea that things are going to soon spiral out of control.

There's a lot going on that's not specifically spelled out, though, mainly: did the spiralling out of control have to happen? Thewlis's character may have been a catalyst in a way he never intended.

The creatures are used to life under Moreau, whose ultimate goal with his experiments is to be able to 'program out' all the human race's violence and other undesirable tendencies. Moreau considers himself the 'father' of all the hybrids, and considers himself a benevolent one at that, but it's obvious to everyone but Moreau himself that there are hypocrisies and injustices about. First of all, the more human a hybrid appears, the more Moreau favors him or her, and no one is more aware of this than the least human-looking of the hybrids. His personal favorite is his 'daughter', (Fairuza Balk), who indeed is a gentle and articulate being, but one has to wonder, would Moreau (and for that matter, Thewlis's character) have responded to her in the same way if she'd been, say, furry and hunchbacked (but with the same sweet personality) as opposed to the beautiful young human woman she appears to be, whose only tell-tale signs of difference are her unique eyes? Second, the hybrids, with the exception of a few favored ones who live in Moreau's mansion with him, have little control over their own lives - Moreau dominates them completely, and though he seems to want the best for them, isn't a benevolent dictator still a dictator? Moreau and Kilmer control any undesirable behavior in the hybrids by using remote control devices that activate intense pain in implants within their bodies. Since there are no external wounds, Moreau seems to think they should all forget about it, but still, some of the hybrids have suffered greatly because of these devices. Moreau would argue that they're necessary, as some of the hybrids, particularly those bred from the DNA of carnivorous animals, occasionally show signs of giving into their more feral nature. But still, the seeds of bitterness are planted. It's apparant that many of the hybrids have been struggling for a long time before the movie begins - for example, one of the rules of the island is that no one eats meat, but the hybrids with a lot of, say, wolf or tiger in them, long instinctively to hunt for their own food. They're told they're not supposed to, and are left fighting their instincts and wondering what's wrong with them to feel like this. Meanwhile, aside from Moreau, the authority on the island lies in the hands of Kilmer's character, who's a glorified mercenary and unlikely to have gone out of his way to make life easier for the hybrids.

Then Thewlis comes to the island, the first 'outside' human the hybrids have ever seen (although many of them know that large numbers of 'normal' humans exist off the island) and, although justifiably shocked, immediately reacts to the creatures as if they're freaks and abominations. Except for Balk, who he's immediately drawn to, not even realizing at first that she's one of 'them'. He later gains more respect for some of the creatures, but the damage may have already been done - one more reminder that the island's full-human masters, and now presumably normal humans everywhere, are always going to regard them as lesser. And this plays into a series of events that's already been escalating for some time, where more and more of the more feral hybrids are beginning to rebel. Added into this is that, without regular drug injections, All the hybrids, Balk included, will theoretically revert to a much more savage state.

Great special effects are a highlight of the movie, and swing into full force in the latter parts of the film, as carnage erupts and tremendous, horrifying, beast vs. beast and beast vs. human action engulfs the island with tragic results. Great characters - both good, bad, and sort of in-between -, the aforementioned effects, a jungle setting that's both beautiful and primal, and terrific action sequences all pump the movie up. Scary, thought-provoking, exciting and fascinating, this is highly recommended for fans of horror, action and science fiction, and for anyone interested in stories set in the increasingly relevant territory of the ethical dilemnas of genetic enmgineering and the like. Very underappreciated movie deserving of much more respect. Incidentally, director John Frankenheimer also directed another horror movie in this general vein, The Prophecy (1979), in which the monsters are spawned by the effects of rampant pollution rather than scientific engineering. That's another one I wholeheartedly recommend.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1998
While everyone goes on and on about Brando's overwrought performance they overlooked the rest of the cast. There's Val Kilmer, a good actor who is in a bad movie and seems to be loving every minute of it. Then there is the British actor David Thewlis, good actor who is in a bad movie and seems to want to duck behind a tree every time the camera is on him. This film is so overblown that it has earned a place as modern cult classic, and it deserves it. View with an open mind.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 7, 2005
An ocean plane wrecked diplomat (David Thewlis) is rescued and brought to an island inhabited by a Nobel winning now reclusive scientist (Marlon Brando) and his children; the animals he has been genetically manipulating with human DNA in an attempt to create his vision of a pure species.

When this film opened it was panned by the critics. I was never sure why. It opens strong, both visually and musically. The locale is beautifully claustrophobic, appropriate for a secluded tropical island. Stan Winston's creature make up is excellent. The body language of the "humanimals" is very interesting. The underlying commentaries on the savagery of society and the morality of biological scientific experimentation are intact. Performances are excellent (Brando makes a daring, and critics said poor, choice in his interpretation of Moreau in that he plays him like an effete, physically feeble, unbelievably polite British University English Professor, more eccentrically insane instead of the usual madly insane that most crazy scientist characters are portrayed as). This is a well done film.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on June 2, 2005
Ever wonder where Col. Kurtz would've ended up had he survived the end of "Apocalypse Now"? Well, now we know: He exiled himself to a deserted island to create humanimals -- the horror, the horror.

The 1996 version of "The Island of Dr. Moreau" was such a troubled production that articles, books and documentaries have been made about it, like the 2014 documentary "Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau." Stanley championed the project and wrote the screenplay, but was fired after a few days of filming due to conflicts with Val Kilmer, who wasn't in the best of moods due to being served divorce papers while on set. The production was so bad that Fairuza Balk (the cat-lady, Aissa) literally tried to escape the set, but was caught at the airport in the nick of time. Add to this Brando's well-known eccentricities - not helped by the recent suicide of his daughter, Cheyenne (!) - and constant rewrites and you have a formula for cinematic chaos!

In light of the horrible production and the ensuing bad press you would think this would be a lousy movie, but it's actually not that bad. I can see WHY some people don't like it because parts of the third act are pretty insane and don't flow very well, but if you're a sucker for lost-on-an-island type yarns and appreciate the mood & insanity of films like "Apocalypse Now" and the original "Planet of the Apes" ("It's a madhouse, a MADHOUSE!") you'll probably appreciate it. Don't get me wrong, it's nowhere near the caliber of either of those films, but comparisons are inevitable and it IS entertaining despite its flaws.

WHAT WORKS: The title sequence is kinetic and dazzling, perhaps one of the best in the history of cinema; the score by Gary Chang is varied and all-around phenomenal ('nuff said); the plot is intriguing; the humanimal make-up and actors are quite good with Daniel Rigney's 'Hyena-Swine' standing out (Rigney was dead a mere year after the film's release); the movie possesses an undeniable creative pizazz; Marlon Brando's 35 minute stint is as captivating as always; the inclusion of Dr. Moreau's "Mini-Me" is hilarious in hindsight of the Austin Powers trilogy; and there are definite flashes of greatness, like Edward's revelatory talk with Aissa in the third act.

WHAT DOESN'T WORK: The flow of the movie seems off and, as such, the story isn't that compelling, which is mostly apparent in the mounting craziness of the third act, which tempts the viewer to tune out. However, it's not THAT bad.

Marlon's Dr. Moreau is a variation of Kurtz (i.e. nutjob in the jungle), albeit twenty years later. For Brando fans it's enjoyable seeing him in his old age. This was one of his final films and it shows that he had his magnetic charm until the end.

Furthermore, there are some interesting themes if you look closely: The humanimals who get to live in Dr. Moreau's abode are more human-like in appearance than the animals living in the smelly humanimal 'village' in the forest; the most human-like one, Aissa, he even refers to as his daughter. Wouldn't this lead to tensions between the factions? While Moreau is a benevolent dictator he's still a dictator and dictator's are rarely good. When Hyena-Swine usurps the crown he immediately becomes a malevolent dictator.

The original version runs 96 minutes and the DC 99 minutes. The film was shot in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon March 8, 2015
NOTE: THIS IS A REVIEW OF THE 1996 FILM. I was recently reading an article about Richard Stanley who has a screenwriter credit for this movie. He was also the director until he was eventually fired (replaced by John Frankenheimer), essentially for not being able to corral a couple of his cast members (Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer) and who was forever dickering with the screenplay. From what I recall, Stanley went into seclusion and never really made another major film. I have a vague memory of seeing the film years ago and thought it might be fun taking another look.

The movie is based on H. G. Wells's 19th Century novel of the same name. This is actually the 3rd film taken from the book. The first is a brilliant adaptation called "The Island of Lost Souls" from 1932 starring Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi. The second reverts to the original title and was released in 1977 starring Burt Lancaster and Michael York. It's actually pretty good. This film is best known perhaps as the film featuring two ridiculous performances, those of Brando and Kilmer. The original novel and/or films may have been an inspiration for the punk/pop band Devo who use a line from the film ("Are we not men?") as their first album title, which included the second line, "we are Devo."

The story has to do with Dr. Moreau (Brando), a former Nobel Prize winner, who has moved to an obscure Pacific island to experiment with animal mutations. Essentially he has found some success in gene manipulation that gives animals, human-like abilities including communication and walking upright. His masterpiece is his "daughter," Aissa (Fairuza Balk) who is totally convincing as a woman. In order to keep his subjects in their "advanced" form, Moreau must give them a serum regularly, otherwise they will revert to their animal states. Killing is forbidden which becomes a plot point in the film.

Moreau's experiment begins to unravel when Montgomery (Kilmer) rescues an Englishman named Douglas (David Thewlis) who has survived a shipwreck and brings him back to Moreau's island. Douglas has a lot of questions and after a chance meeting with the sultry Aissa, gets his horny on. Thewlis is terribly miscast in this role. He's not the hunky, take-charge guy that the character requires. Still he does what he can with the crappy script. A bloated Brando finally shows up well into the film caked in white greasepaint and what appears to be a white tent with mosquito netting. OK, a slight exaggeration. He's very sensitive to the sun, doncha' know. Even inside however, he's a building of his own. His lines are nonsensical as they relate to the story. It's like he just makes up a monologue and spurts it out. In one scene, perhaps in his own tribute to Devo, Moreau dons a towering, flower-pot looking hat similar to the one Devo is known for. His aides put ice into the top to keep him cool. Hilarious.

Kilmer must have been watching this so once Moreau is out of the picture, Montgomery takes on the persona of Moreau, including Brando's take on the character. Kilmer provides and even better Brando than Brando. It is actually kind of funny to watch him imitate the lispy speech pattern and effete mannerisms. I'll give credit to Rick Baker for some excellent costume work on the animal-hybrids and to Ron Perlman as their leader. Still this is actually a very bad movie. I can't recommend it unless you want to see a couple of former film greats destroy their careers. And some unintentional laughs.

If you chose to watch the Blu ray version you will get a very good 1080p picture with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. It is very clear with excellent detail and great colors. This is a significant improvement over previous versions. The audio comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and is also very good. There is nothing really special in terms of the surrounds but dialog is clear and well placed. Extras include a short making of piece and a couple trailers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2014
This 1996 version of THE ISLAND OF DR MOREAU is a remake of the 1977 version of the same name
i do like both versions
but this is about the new Blu-ray version of the 1996 remake
which was released on DVD back in 1999 with both Theatrical version and UNRATED versions on 1 Disc
in a snap case packaging which was horrible packaging
this Blu-ray version is the best quality version to get with all new High Definition picture quality
and a new 5.1 Master audio mix
so it looks and sounds amazingly better than the old dvd release that's for sure
but this blu-ray release only has the UNRATED version which contains more blood and Gore in it
which i think is a much better version

there are no new special features on this blu-ray
just the same extras from the DVD release,
making of featurette mainly about the
special make up effects by Stan winston
and the Audio commentary by John Frankenheimer
it's time to throw out the old DVD release and upgrade to this new Blu-ray release for sure
much, much better picture quality than the dvd release
i gave it 5 stars
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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon April 11, 2010
The Island of Dr. Moreau was based on an H.G. Wells novel written exactly five score (100) years before this 1996 version, which was the third attempt at capturing the novel on film. 1932's Island of Lost Souls, the first version, was a haunting film. Though in Black & White and made with much cruder special effects and make up, it nevertheless was the most successful in creating its macabre mood. Charles Loughton played the mad doctor and none other than Bela Lugosi was the Sayer of the Law. With Lost Souls indelibly etched in my brain the 1977 version, also called The Island of Dr. Moreau, seemed rather mediocre in comparison, in spite of featuring Burt Lancaster, Michael York, and Richard Basehart. It would be interesting to compare '77 instead with this version made less than one score years later, which easily made the list of The 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson's book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE.

Richard Stanley, the original director, was fired by the studio after only a few days. Val Kilmer announced that he wanted nothing to do with the project, but was forced to fulfill his contractual obligations. He was supposed to play the lead, but took the role of Dr. Montgomery instead. David Thewlis was cast, and strangely, he had been the original choice for the part from fired director Richard Stanley. Among other mishaps, Thewlis broke his leg during the shoot when he fell off a horse. David Thewlis had such a horrible time that he refused to attend the premiere, and vowed he would never watch the film.

Dr. Moreau: I have almost achieved perfection you see, of a divine creature that is pure, harmonious, absolutely incapable of any malice. And if in my tinkering I have fallen short of the human form by the snout, claw or hoof, it really is of no great importance. I am closer than you could possibly imagine, sir.

The cast embarked on their doomed journey with high hopes. Val Kilmer vacationed with Brando in Ireland just prior to filming. Ron Perlman signed on mainly for a chance to work with the great Marlon Brando. But Brando gave such a silly and sissified performance that it made his controversially prissy Mr. Christian in Mutiny On The Bounty seem butch.

To be fair, Brando was dealing with his daughter's recent suicide, and the French had just conducted an underwater nuclear detonation near Tahiti and one of the atolls that Brando owned; but could even that excuse a performance this bad from the master thespian, who not only "coulda been a contender" but had been the holder of the heavy weight acting crown?

The role of Dr. Moreau did call for a brilliant but eccentric man who isolated himself on an island, with servants and underlings who catered to his every whim, and that would seem to be right up Brando's atoll, but the affect was comical, not tragic or dramatic, or, as befits a horror film, horrifying. The only thing frightening about his performance was how bad it was. Perhaps Marlon was going for White Plantation Owner, or, Would-Be Pope, playing God, but the resultant mixed metaphors had Brando being carted around in a throne; face painted white with sunscreen, an umbrella on his head, clutching a remote control/rosary that dished out the pain to stray members of his manimal flock. What should have been a climactic scene where he confronts Hyena-Swine and the others who have removed their pain inflicting implants was in danger of seeming more like a routine fight over the TV's remote. Another scene where Dr. Moreau plays the grand piano while a similarly attired Majai (the diminutive Nelson de la Rosa) plays atop the grand on a baby grand of his own was no doubt the inspiration for Dr. Evil's Mini-Me in Mike Myers' Austin Powers films.

Edward Douglas: Are you a doctor?
Montgomery: Well, I'm more of a vet.

Val Kilmer was dealing with demons of his own. Though he was initially enthusiastic about working with Brando he became disillusioned when he saw that his idol had feet of clay. He learned that his then wife, Johanna Whalley, was divorcing him when he saw it on TV. Being served with divorce papers, and dissatisfied with the direction the project was taking, he wanted out desperately. With his recent success playing Batman he was too valuable a commodity for the studio to release him completely, so he switched to the lesser role of Dr. Montgomery. Perhaps he felt a certain kinship with the brilliant neurosurgeon reduced to the role of shepherd for Dr. Moreau's flock of misbegotten manimals? Whatever his mood, he seemed to be either deliberately sabotaging the film, having a laugh at a private joke, or more likely, he just did not care. He plays a drug freak-out scene that is so Oliver Stoned that it would be laughed OUT of a Cheech and Chong movie, let alone The Doors (which was, in my opinion, a great film with a great performance by Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison, even if the surviving members of The Doors disliked it). This scene culminates in Dr. Montgomery seeming to have caught Dr. Moreau's contagious insanity, but it seems more like Kilmer is cruelly mocking Brando, biting the hand that fed him.

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

When Director Richard Stanley was summarily fired after only a few days, it is fitting that John Frankenheimer was tapped to direct this Frankenstein monster of a movie. In the early 60's he directed The Manchurian Candidate, The Birdman of Alcatraz, All Fall Down, and The Young Savages; but by 1987, however, he had directed Riviera, a made-for-television movie that turned out so bad that it was attributed to Alan Smithee, the appellation affixed to films to escape blame when the director wants nothing further to do with it. Perhaps he should have blamed The Island of Dr. Moreau on Alan Smithee, too?

From the start he was at odds with Brando, Kilmer, and the studio executives. The original shooting script by Richard Stanley was tossed, barely two words survived; but due to WGA (Writer's Guild of America) rules, Richard Stanley retained co-writer credit. Walon Green was a bit luckier and avoided any blame when he provided uncredited contributions to Hutchinson's draft. Ron Hutchinson's rewrites incorporated changes ordered by Frankenheimer, Brando, Kilmer and the studio. Frankenheimer wanted to alter the basic tone of the film and attempted to merge Brando's vision of Moreau with his version. Big mistake. Brando, though a great actor, needs a strong director to rein him in. Or at the very least someone who knows how to use his unique stage presence--like Francis Ford Copolla did in The Godfather or Apocalypse Now. Or Bernardo Bertolucci's in Ultimo tango a Parigi. 'Island' turned out as bad as the disaster that was 1961's One-Eyed Jacks, where Brando fired Director Stanley Kubrick and directed it himself.

Hyena-Swine: Fine man... please... tell them... that I am God.
Edward Douglas: You all killed the Father. You all ate his flesh. So who is the new Father? Who is God Number One? Who should they obey?
[indicating other rebellious Beast People]
Edward Douglas: Him? Him. You see, there must be a God Number One.
[Hyena-Swine roars and shoots at his compatriots]

Perhaps the strangest story associated with this production was that fired director Richard Stanley sneaked back onto the set in a dog mask and performed as an extra. Though uncredited, he is seen as a melting bulldog. He kept up the charade until the wrap party. Hearing this, one can only wonder, what might have been had his directorial services been retained? He obviously had an interest in the outcome of the project, and it would seem to be a perfect fit for his talents. The South African from the town of Fishhook had made two films previously that overcame many obstacles to become cult films, namely Hardware and Dust Devil. "I do not feel that at any time it was ever my decision to make any of the movies I made," said Richard Stanley, "although I don't regret them."

Sayer of the Law: It is a hard way, the way of being a man. Sooner or later we all want a thing that is bad. To walk on all fours. To suck up drink from a stream. To jabber, instead of saying the words. To go snuffling at the earth, and to claw on the bark of trees. To eat flesh, or fish. To make love to more than one, every which way. These are all bad things. These are not the things that men do. But we are men, are we not? We are men because the Father has made us men!

Though I have already spent the bulk of this review deriding the 3-car chain collision of Frankenheimer, Kilmer, and Brando, I have to say that in spite of it all, the manimals were often very good. Stan Winston is a man whose name often comes up in regards to creating creatures and special effects, and off the top of my head, I've noticed he's also done great work on AI: Artificial Intelligence and the recent 3D remake of Clash of The Titans. With Winston's help the actors under the heavy make up emoted in most cases much better than the ostensible stars. Daniel Rigney as Hyena-Swine was surprisingly poignant, bewildered to be caught between man's reason and animal's instinct, expressing his inchoate rage with words interspersed with yowls, yips, growls, and hyena laughs. Mark Dacascos as tiger-man Lo-Mai was as frightening and enigmatic as the Beast in poet Jean Cocteau's La belle et la bête. Ron Perlman was fully committed to his role, and went as far as having discs placed over his eyes since The Sayer of The Law was blind. The dénouement with the inevitable manimal rebellion went much better than would be expected, given the mess that preceded it. The falcon cannot hear the falconer; things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned. In an earlier scene in Dr. Moreau's mansion there was something fitting in (Marco Hofschneider) M'ling's choice and reading of The Second Coming, by William Butler Yeats:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
~William Butler Yeats from The Second Coming

Island of Lost Souls [VHS] (1932) This version starred Charles Loughton and Bela Lugosi
One-Eyed Jacks (1961) Directed by and starring Marlon Brando as Rio
Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) Marlon Brando was 1st Lt. Fletcher Christian
The Manchurian Candidate (Special Edition) (1962) Directed by John Frankenheimer
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977) This version starred Burt Lancaster, Michael York, and Richard Basehart
The Big Lebowski (1998) David Thewlis was Knox Harrington
Wonderland (2003) Val Kilmer was John Holmes
Masked and Anonymous (2003) Val Kilmer was Animal Wrangler
Hellboy (2004) Ron Perlman was Hellboy
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) Val Kilmer was Stevie Pruit and Fairuza Balk was Heidi

Hyena-Swine: Tell me, why you make the pain, if we are your children?
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on March 17, 1999
When shipwrecked explorer David Thewlis lands on an island and welcomed by Val Kilmer he probably didn't expect anything like what was waiting for him in this unpredictable horro action. This movie is chock-a-block full of action, plot, scientific experiments and wierd half man half animal like creatures. At first Thewlis (our hero) plays the role in exploring the island and trying to blend in to the rest of the freaky community, but he is very suprised by the treatment of Moreau (brando) to the animals, as well as the rules, the laws and the oneness of man and animal. But when certain members rebel against their leader all hell breaks loose. The hyenas take over, Thewlis tries his best to escape, a wise old man tries to calm every one down, a funny little 1ft man ( bred with a worm) wanders around aimlessly and Kilmer goes beyond the boundaries of crazy. Alot goes on in this great film, it really is a must see, so if I were you go out and hire it right now.
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2001
I wonder how a film can arouse so much negative reaction. Why are most people really angry about it not just ignoring it? From reading all the reviews I could find, I think the explanation is: It is too different from the mainstream formula. People think they get Stallone/Schwarzenegger/Willis mindless action when they get Kubrick-like intelligence.
If the film DIDN'T have big names like Frankenheimer, Brando and Kilmer, people would not have a standard Hollywood cliche to expect. It confuses them.
I came across a few quotes that sums up the anger against the film: "it's weird and too many people die which leaves you depressed" and "it kills the sympathy the audience should feel for such tormented and abused beings".
I have the opposite opinion. It's EXACTLY what makes this film unique. I don't need another Hollywood soap but most people are comfortable with the cliches they have seen in 99% other Hollywood films. They MUST have the superchic, the "moral dilemma", the black judge and the happy end. They can't cope with a story that unfolds in a more "documentary", bizarre way. For me the whole excitement comes from the sense of realism. The "heroes" dies when logic requires it. As a matter of fact! You watch things happen because it's inevitable from a biological sense NOT because it has to conform with a Hollywood formula. The main characters are not important, the "has-it-all great story" is not important, the essence is to show how strong a force biological mechanisms shaped through millions of years are. DISREGARDING the conformity rules of filmmaking. That's why Island of Dr. Moreau is a masterpiece in my mind. It's up there with Kubrick.
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