The Island of Dr. Moreau [Blu-Ray] John Frankenheimer

The Island of Dr. Moreau [Blu-Ray] John Frankenheimer
This fifth cinematic stab at H.G. Wells's cautionary tale of a mad scientist playing God has become a classic in its own right ― for all the wrong reasons. The broad strokes of Wells's 1896 novel remain intact in this iteration: a shipwrecked man with a background in science is rescued by an odd gent by the name of Montgomery (Val Kilmer, flippantly hamming it up) and is reticently brought to a private island owned by Dr. Moreau (an appalling Marlon Brando), who's infamous in the scientific community for his sacrilegious notions regarding the application of vivisection. Following the natural curiosity fostered by exclusion, Prendick (David Thewlis), our unfortunate protagonist and narrator, explores a hideous wailing, and to his obvious horror, discovers profane experiments being conducted in secrecy by the hubristic doctor. Unwilling to adhere to the moral contracts of society Moreau opts to build his own species of human-animal hybrids, of which he is the paternal almighty in a closed system. I'd like to be able to say that the filmmaking devolves parallel to Moreau's twisted utopian idealism, but it's pretty much a train wreck from the start. Poor cinematography, schizophrenic editing, atrocious lighting, bad audio balance, a tawdry score, laughable performances from everyone lacking the surname Thewlis, shoddy effects, downright bizarre creature design (what is Moreau's mini-me supposed to be engineered from, Marlon Brando's haemorrhoids?) ― you name it and director John Frankenheimer loused it up like only a disinterested ego-tripping testosterone junky could. Sure, there's plenty of blame to spread around ― the studio forcing Val Kilmer to stay on when he clearly didn't want to be involved and firing original director Richard Stanley four days into shooting certainly didn't nurture smooth sailing or a cohesive vision ― but, really, who else could be responsible for truncating the story's philosophical underpinning in favour of fetishistic gunplay? There are so many excessive scenes of the twitchy Jackal man shooting off rounds that one must wonder if Frankenheimer is as impotent as his filmmaking without the scent of gunpowder filling his nostrils. In what is a giant missed opportunity to discuss the horrible luck and production decisions of this calamity, the only extras on this Blu-Ray reissue are a behind-the-scenes feature lifted from the DVD edition, notable for the ramblings of a seemingly stoned Val Kilmer, and theatrical and international trailers, which both make this unintentional farce look as ridiculous as it is. Though I don't condone Hollywood's obsession with remakes, here's one ripe for revision by the Rise of the Planet of the Apes team. (Warner)