Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley’s “Island of Dr. Moreau”, 2014 – ★★★½

As the Joseph Conrad novel is mentioned quite a few times, this documentary of a film out of control is, like Hearts of Darkness, better than the film it documents. Unfortunately this film is the catastrophic and surreal failure The Island of Dr. Moreau, whos only dubious achievement is likely inspiring the Austin Powers character Mini Me. Richard Stanley’s vision of Moreau sounded, while not entirely great, far better than what was put on screen, and this gives us fleeting glimpses of what might have been. This is all well and good except for the idea that Stanley’s vision was some sort of failed masterpiece. It may well have been, but I certainly don’t get that impression from his descriptions. My chief disappointment in the film lies with the fact that arguably the most interesting thing about Moreau, more interesting than Kilmer’s manchild demands, than Stanley’s weird quirks, than Bob Shaye’s weird insistence that someone who has 3 sugars in their coffee is a weirdo, is the fact that we’re seeing arguably Hollywood royalty Marlon Brando, in one of his final roles, demonstrate a man insane. And that is fascinating. The only real standout beyond that is hearing Fairuza Balk, once a rising star, detail her disillusionment with the studio system, and basically make the case without saying it that this is why she’s been largely absent from film for the last twenty years.

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