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It seems like every other movie we talk about here at Cinema Blend is a remake or a reboot. And then there is a subset of those remakes that are actually re-adaptations of source material that have been turned into films time and time again. The latest of these to get the go-ahead, Deadline reports, is yet another version of The Island of Dr. Moreau, the classic 1896 sci-fi novel written by H.G. Wells. The project is being handled by Warner Bros. and Appian Way, the production company run by Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson Killoran. I think I can hear everyone groaning from here. And if you aren’t groaning, what is wrong with you?
While we can perhaps expect a revolving door of directors to get involved, the studio has hired screenwriters Lee Shipman & Brian McGreevy to pen the script. McGreevy is the author whose novel Hemlock Grove was turned into the Netflix series of the same name. Both he and Shipman served as writers and executive producers for that series. Admittedly, I only made it a few episodes into that series before boredom forced me to stop, but I won’t hold that against these guys. The pair is also responsible for writing the upcoming Zorro Reborn with Gael Garcia Bernal.
This version of The Island of Dr. Moreau will be a contemporary re-interpretation of Wells’ original material, and while it’s keeping the sci-fi theme, they’re also going for something with a “topical ecological message.” How will that happen? I have no idea. Maybe somebody at Warner Bros. figured out that trying to breed monkeys and humans together is one of the leading causes of global warming. I’ll be sure and tell my hyena-swine to quit farting out methane.
Truth be told, I am interested in watching this movie try its damnedest to remove the memory of the 1996 version of the story, as directed for the most part by John Frankenheimer - who came into this disaster after the original director, Richard Stanley, was fired by New Line. It’s the kind of movie with behind-the-scenes shenanigans that should have made the flick wildly entertaining to watch, but instead it’s just slow and weird, with awful performances from both Val Kilmer and Marlon Brando (who never should have been involved to begin with).
Of course, there are also successful versions of this novel out there already. Island of Lost Souls, the adaptation from director Erle C. Kenton in 1932, was a fine piece of cinema, with a great performance by Charles Laughton as the slightly insane doctor. Don Taylor’s 1977 version with Burt Lancaster and Michael York was pretty good as well, but not very memorable.
What do you guys think about it? If nothing else, I at least hope they follow in the footsteps of the 1996 version by using physical effects instead of using CGI to create all the creatures. Relive their creepiness in the trailer below.