A- Sound: A- Extras: C+ Film: B
many dumb serial killer films have arrived, Jack The Ripper has been ignored
and lost to a great extent. That seems
odd considering the interest in him that endured for so many decades, but now,
bad reality TV, worst investigative reporting, especially bad serial killer
films (and TV shows) and 24-news networks looking for the cheapest horrors out
there have left him behind. Just as
well, Albert and Allen Hughes may have created one of the best such films with From Hell, based on the Alan
Moore/Eddie Campbell graphic novel about the severity of his crimes and his
Depp (just before hitting commercial blockbuster paydirt) plays the drug-using
Inspector Frederick Abberline, who is eventually pulled in to investigate and
possibly stop the killings once and for all.
The murders were never solved in real life, but many have come closer
and closer to what they think really happened and who did it.
you can debate their findings, the film is more than just about the murders
like so many of the films made on the subject (for which The Hughes Brothers
claim they watched every film on the subject they could find, which is likely
since this holds up so well) it is about the society that created the
circumstance for any Ripper to rise and just how bad things were unless you
were part of an elite.
Graham plays one of several hookers whose friends are the targets of the
killings and of whom the Inspector gets more involved with. I really liked just about every aspect of the
film, with its dense look, disturbingly realistic sets and a solid supporting
cast that includes Robbie Coltrane, Ian Holm, Jason Flemyng, Ian Richardson,
Paul Rhys and Sophia Myles.
I give The
Hughes Brothers and co-writers Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias credit for not
imitating other Ripper films, Silence Of
The Lambs or Se7en, a look of
which the film does not imitate. That is
especially good when David Fincher did not repeat himself with Zodiac, though that is a film (with its
investigative mystery of who a serial killer is) that has more in common with From Hell than Se7en. Except for some minor
reservations, the film is amazing and closer to Alan Moore’s work than most film
attempts. With films like 300 becoming big hits, it would be nice
for this film to find a new audience.
original DVD release (which I reviewed for American
Cinematographer Magazine back in their July 2002 issue) looked good for
2001, but the 1080p 2.35 X 1 AVC @ 19 MBPS digital High Definition image as
shot by Director of Photography Peter Deming, A.S.C., is one of the best of
recent back catalog feature films in Blu-ray and the DVD simply cannot
compete. Video Black is stunning, depth
impressive, detail fine and the look palpable in what is the most realistic
portrayal of the poor (in the past) from a major studio release since Michael
Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate (1980) in the
dirty, dark, sad conditions lived in.
The Blu-ray of The Prestige
would be a good comparison disc, though this was shot in real anamorphic 35mm
Panavision scope and holds up stunningly well.
HD Master Audio (MA) Lossless 5.1 mix is so good, you can actually hear detail
with even lesser equipment as compared to the DTS on the DVD set, but this was
always a very smart mix with character, a good score by composer Trevor Jones (Excalibur, Dark City) and richness that can still hold its own against the
newest mixes. Audiophiles will be
include a trivia track, original theatrical trailer, feature length
audio-commentary by The Hughes Brothers, co-writer Rafael Yglesias, actor Coltrane
& cinematographer Deming, 20 deleted scenes and alternate ending both with
Albert Hughes commentary.
this Blu-ray that was included on the DVD set include graphic novel-to-film
comparison, Jack The Ripper: 6 Degrees of
Separation Interactive Investigation, Heather Graham-hosted HBO tie-in
special A View From Hell, production
designer Martin Childs’ behind the scenes featurette, Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder featurette and Tour Of The Murder Sites featurette with
The Hughes Brothers. That will make fans
keep the DVD set, despite this being a 50GB disc. However, to get the playback performance you
get here, it is worth it.
DVD arrived, I hoped it would be the hit it deserved to be in theaters and when
Johnny Depp became a bigger star, hoped once again the film would be
rediscovered. None of that happened,
while The Hughes Brothers have not made a film since. With Fox issuing this title early on Blu-ray,
maybe it will finally get the credit it deserves.
- Nicholas Sheffo