Most helpful positive review
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 29 January 2010
The turn of the 20th century. The ship the 'Lady Vain' is lost at sea, and three survivors find themselves cast adrift in a small wooden boat. After seventeen days at sea, they come across an island, by which time there are only two survivors. The ship's engineer Andrew Braddock(Michael York) pulls the boat ashore, and leaving his ill shipmate behind, goes looking for water. Braddock is startled by something or someone moving in the undergrowth, and falls into an animal trap. When he comes to, he is in bed, and meets a man called Montgomery(Nigel Davenport), who informs him that his companion has died of heat exposure.
Montgomery runs the house, but is employment of the owner, a certain Dr Moreau(Burt Lancaster), who welcomes Braddock with open arms, offering him the hospitality of his home. There is also a lady called Maria(Barbera Carrera), who Moreau informs Braddock was found abandoned as a baby in New Orleans. Braddock is enjoying the paradise island, but the strange animal noises he hears at night concern him. After seeing Moreau's servant M'Ling, in chains being dragged into an unknown out house, curiosity gets the better of Braddock, and he enters the building. What he finds brings a realisation that Dr Moreau has very good reasons for wanting to stay on an isolated island, as he is very active in conducting terrifying experiments, experiments which seem to have been going very wrong...
I must confess, this is the only film adaptation of H.G Wells story that I have seen. The 1932 version, 'The Island Of Lost Souls' is meant to be the definative version, but you could do a lot worse than visiting this adaptation, as although it doesn't follow the book to the letter, it is a pretty faithful version.
Michael York is very good as the male lead, especially in the scenes where he is struggling to maintain his humanity, Nigel Davenport is good if a little underused as the mercenary Montgomery, but one performance I have seen lambasted in some reviews for this film is Lancaster in the title role. Well, I thought he delivered a pretty good performance, excellently conveying the banality of evil, as Moreau calmly explains his atrocious experiments to Braddock. The creature make-up is pretty good, and theres a wonderful, haunting music score by Lawrence Rosenthal. Add to that some excellent cinematography, and you will find this a very enjoyable viewing experience.
One thing bothers me though. When I watched this on on television over twenty years ago the ending seemed different to the one at the end of the film on the DVD. Either my mind is playing tricks on me, or the ending we have here is more sanitised and ambiguous than the one I had previously seen. If anybody could let me know if there are two versions of the film, with slightly diffrent closures, I would very much appreciate it. 4 out of 5 for the film though as usual for Optimum, there are no extras to speak of on the disc. What matters most of course is that picture/sound quality are excellent.