(Review originally written at 16 January 2007)

This is the first movie adaption of the H.G. Wells novel; The Island of Dr. Moreau.

The movie is great to watch but it by no means is a classic. There are a few elements present in this movie that makes it distinct itself from other genre movies at the time but it still fails to really capture the right mood and atmosphere required for a good horror/fantasy movie.

The movie its story takes a while to take really form even though the pace is surprisingly high. It does work good for the movie its 'mystery' but it doesn't always keep the movie interesting or likely. Of course it's not a requirement for a movie like this to be 'likely' but some more depth and better story flow and more detailed build up and explaining wouldn't had hurt the movie. Of course it's not that the movie is a bad one to watch now but it's just not a "Frankenstein" or "Dracula", though it really could had been, since in essence the potential was really there, with its story and in its style of film-making of the time period.

The movie is definitely well made when it comes down to the production values and acting. The movie is good looking, with convincing sets and make-up effects for all the 'creatures'. The movie is not as 'campy' as you perhaps would expect and they did a good job at making the movie look as realistic as possible, without ever really getting ridicules by going over-the-top. The cinematography is absolutely great and provides the movie with a couple of creative looking sequences.

Strangely enough the movie doesn't feature any music during the actual movie itself. Some of the sequences could had really used some (atmospheric) music, also as a tool to perhaps build up the tension. The movie now is almost like a silent-movie at times! Not quite good enough for 1933 standards.

The movie is perhaps lacking a bit too much in depth, since the story itself offered so many great themes, about playing God for yourself and loosing yourself in the process of it. The movie fails at ever becoming interesting when it comes down to that subject and other deeper meanings in the story.

The movie is also definitely uplifted by the performances of the cast. Richard Arlen might not be the best leading man but Charles Laughton on the other hand as Dr. Moreau is perfect. He delivers a great performance and puts down the character with the right sinister/well educated tone. I also liked Arthur Hohl in his role. Bela Lugosi also has a small role in the movie as the Sayer of the Law but I really couldn't understand halve of what he was saying! But his presence alone made a great impression.

I still surprisingly like the 1977 movie version of the novel best.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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