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Jack's back in this killer thriller! Jack the Ripper of course. Murder, mystery, romance and intrigue, definitely something in the film for all to see. From Hell takes us back to a very different time and place indeed. A great whodunnit combined with history, clues, and some interesting “Ripperology”.

Movie
What would it have been like being a prostitute in London in the late 1880's? From Hell introduces us to some of the local ladies of the evening and their daily struggles for food and survival on the streets. As evening falls over a period of several weeks, one by one, the ladies meet with unexpected, unfortunate and gruesome deaths. Despite conducting extensive investigations the mysterious killer, nicknamed Jack the Ripper, slips through the hands of the police, the media and the locals. Never in history has there been more theories written about who Jack the Ripper really was and why he killed as much as he did. As the killings continued, fear increased. Public pressure mounted to find this killer and restore life to the way things were.

From Hell

Johnny Depp was well cast for the role of Inspector Abberline. There always seems to be some deep, dark character within the characters Johnny Depp portrays. Robbie Coltrane plays an excellent Sergeant Godley who keeps Inspector Abberline on the straight and narrow despite Abberline's drug and alcohol induced episodes. Heather Graham plays a wonderful portrayal of Mary Kelly. Many may have questioned whether Heather Graham was right for this role. Her portrayal of Mary Kelly as a strong, determined yet caring person was in line
with historical reports. Ian Holm as the Royal Surgeon Sir William Gull rounds out the well cast film.

Within the story there are several interesting twists and sub-plots. Directors the Hughes Brothers not only depicted the life and times of Jack the Ripper based on historical facts and documents, but made sure that what was included in the film was precisely how and where the murders took place, down to the most minute details. Interestingly enough, while based on
historical facts, the Royal Surgeon is called upon by the Queen to insure a possible abdication crisis is eliminated at all costs. Quite the soap opera indeed. I particularly enjoyed Liz Moscrop as the Queen. Without giving anything away, I would recommend viewing From Hell even if it's just to have a go at who you think might have committed the murders and more importantly why. At one point, I even suspected Inspector Abberline.

I was particularly impressed with the details given via the production design featurette about the interior locations as well as a special mention to the Production Designer Martin Childs who re-created the set for From Hell in just 12 weeks! The special effects of the rain and mist made me feel like I was really there. There is nothing like watching a good mystery on a cold, dark, rainy night. I think From Hell categorized as horror does not do justice to the film. People love a good mystery and this is a mystery indeed.

Video
Presented in the original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and anamorphically enhanced, the transfer is extremely good. I did find some of the scenes darker than others, but it only added to how one would feel walking down a dark street on a cold, misty day by themselves. I considered it a prelude for what was to come. I would recommend just sitting back and enjoying the film for what the Hughes Brothers intended their viewers to see. In all, not a bad looking transfer.

From Hell

Audio
Overall, the sound quality is quite good. Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, this film was quite enjoyable in experiencing the surround sound affects, especially the rain. I was almost ready to get my umbrella while viewing. I especially enjoyed the music that really fits the various scenes and am sure the Hughes Brothers, once again, chose the music to create the atmosphere, which was used very well.

The DVD also includes Croatian, Czech, Danish, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish Turkish, as well as English for the Hearing Impaired. While I can appreciate the choice of the directors to include such a wide variety of languages, there were obviously some scenes and expressions that didn’t exactly translate the way Allan and Albert might have intended.

Extras
While I would not normally recommend this, I would suggest viewing the Victim/Subject files prior to viewing the film. I always enjoy hearing from most of the people who are associated with films in various ways. Like a puzzle, the whole picture is made up of the sum of its pieces. The viewer becomes more acquainted with the theories to this day as to who really was Jack the Ripper and whether or not he or she even existed. While not thriving on the horrific events, I was particularly entranced with both the coroner's report and findings as well as taking a Tour of the Murder sites via one of the featurettes presented. In addition were the Graphic Novel featurette as well as A View From Hell. While I enjoyed the narrated segment that showed actual photographs and insights of theories, I was not particularly fond of being read to with the words on the screen.

I also enjoyed hearing from the Hughes Brothers via the commentary on disc one. Their goal was to help the audience believe it could have happened. I think they were successful in their goal. I think they gave the viewer their thoughts and insights into not only what was included in the movie, but also why it was included and how, which I found very interesting. I am a great admirer of Robbie Coltrane's work and found his comments very down-to-earth and as well as the input from the Hughes Brothers, Rafael Yglesias the Screenwriter, Peter Deming the Cinematographer and Robbie Coltrane. I think I could have done without them choking the re-created victims in jest, but overall, I found them very interesting characters and accomplished directors. I would have left out the segment Absinthe Makes The Heart Grow Fonder as a featurette as I did not think it added, but rather distracted from the viewer's enjoyment of the making of the film. I also think another host than Heather Graham would have been more interesting.

From Hell

Notwithstanding what was enjoyed overall as the featurettes on disc two, I would recommend not viewing them until after you have watched the film. The features are rounded out by a collection of around twenty deleted scenes, all with optional commentary from Albert Hughes. It is obvious why they were cut but they are still a worthy addition to the disc.

Overall
There has been a lot of thought and detail that went into the making of From Hell and it definitely shows. Different viable theories, secret societies, moral and societal issues are confronted. Does the ends justify the means? Was there really a Jack the Ripper or simply a series of copycat killers? That's the great thing about this film. We each get to come to our own conclusions about the ultimate “whodunnit”. Think of the film like a Cluedo and Murder Mystery night all wrapped into one. Did the Butler do it this time? I guess you'll just have to see it to find out.


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