8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
new twist, old tale,
This review is from: From Hell - Single Disc Edition  [DVD] (DVD)
So, is the movie going world ready for yet another take on the Jack the Ripper story? On first impressions, the answer would probably be an emphatic yes. Based on the acclaimed graphic novel of the same name by Alan Moore (y'know, when you look, its surprising how many movies are based on "comics for grown ups", Road to Perdition, V for Vendetta and so on and so forth, but I digress), the film takes the celebrated murder case, and then runs with it in an initially stylish and breathless way. Directed with surprising ferocity by the Hughes brothers (Allen and Albert of Menace II Society and Dead Presidents notoriety), From Hell comes across at first as an interesting and visually stylish update. However, look a little deeper and the film lacks that most important thing, depth.
Johnney Depp takes the role of Fred Aberline, an opium addicted Scotland Yard detective who uses his addiction to fuel his visions of crimes, allowing him to make amazing deductions and solve the unsolvable. Robbie Coltrane turns in an initially amusing turn as his partner Sgt Peter Goodley, a man who turns a blind eye to Depps dabbling, but knows that it will be the end of him. A further surprisingly stellar cast, including Ian Holm as Royal surgeon William Gull, Ian Richardson as Charles Warren, the then head of Scotland Yard and Aberlines superior, and Heather Graham as Marie Kelly (unfortunately hamstrung by a to say the least dubious cockney accent) give some weight to the film.
The plot follows the known facts of the case fairly closely, and throws in a few of the more celebrated conspiracy theories that surround Jack the Ripper just for good measure (those in the know will know what I am talking about, but to say to much would be to give things away). Almost all of the suspected protagonists are featured at one time or another, but you can't help but feel that this plethora of suspects is thrown in to disguise what is essentially an exercise in style over substance. Whilst the violence can be very bloody, it is only briefly glimpsed or merely inferred, but no matter which way you look at this film, it is merely treading old ground.