Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Island of Dr Moreau 1977



The Island of Dr. Moreau 1977
Director: Don Taylor
Writer: Al Ramrus
Starring Michael York, Burt Lancaster, Barbara Carrera, Nigel Davenport, Richard Basehart and Nick Cravat

Out of all of the varied adaptations of The Island of Dr Moreau, this version is my personal favorite. It really stays true to the vision of the original story and has all around great performances. The effects of the creatures are very good too. The film also has a great protagonist in the form of Michael York, who I have always liked since seeing him in Logan's Run and the Three Musketeers. They also picked the perfect actor in Burt Lancaster as Moreau. He is dignified at times and at others Haughty and self important. It is the perfect balance for the god like complex Moreau has. The film flows organically and segues from scene to scene very effortlessly. I first saw this movie at the drive inn when I was 6 years old and its till plays out just as enjoyable as it did back then. It is a shame that the version with Marlon Brando and Val Kilmer falls as flat as this one soars. It just goes to show that when things come together, that it really makes for a fine cinematic viewing experience.
The plot basics are this, Andrew Braddock (York) is adrift on a lifeboat after having his ship sink and him along with another survivor drift through the ocean, until he comes across an uncharted island. He makes it to land, when suddenly He and his companion are chased by unseen forces. Braddock runs until he is discovered by a man (Davenport), who rescues him and takes him back to an enclosed fortress that is run by the enigmatic Dr. Moreau (Lancaster).. As he is nursed back to health Braddock discovers that Moreau was a esteemed scientist who's theories on man and the instinct of animals were scoffed at. So now he lives on this island continuing with his experiments on men and animals. IT soon becomes clear to Braddock that Moreau has gone mad and is now forcibly evolving animals into humans. He rules these creations with an iron fist and he decides to try and turn Braddock into a animal to see if he can eradicate the rational mind of man. IT does not go well and soon Moreau kills his cohort and the creatures see this and rise up and start an all out war with Moreau that will not end well for either sides. Moreau's edict is do as I say and not as I do and the creatures do not cotton to that.
This is a great little film. The direction by Taylor is very suspenseful and gripping. The chase through the jungle in the beginning is choreographed very well, without letting you see what is pursuing Braddock. He also does a great job of filming the siege to the camp at the end, there is much chaos but he films it in a way that it is very easy to follow. The script stays very true to Wells' original vision and really plays up the maniacal god complex that Moreau had. It also plays up the romance between Braddock and Maria very well and realistically. The cast is excellent. Lancaster as the megalomaniacal Moreau brings a great gravity to his performance and it is great seeing his frustration when his experiments on Braddock do not bear fruit. York is a great stoic hero as well. Carrera is very sexy and mysterious as Maria and at times the viewer does not know what to make of her. Baseheart as the Sayer of the Law is phenomenal as well and his is the best performance in the film, the emotions he is able to convey underneath the make up is astounding. The SFX and effects are very good and remind me a lot of the original Planet of the apes make up effects. That probably has a lot to do with John Chambers being in charge who was the make up designer on Planet of the Apes. This is a excellent film and by far the best adaptation of this classic story.
This one gets 4 out of 5





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