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VINE VOICEon 22 November 2004
Jack the Ripper is an enduring tale and one that has been examined before in various film versions, so how does "From Hell" measure up. Pretty well to be honest. The film is an entertaining version of events in Whitechapel, although of course it is more fiction than fact. The theory about the Ripper's identity is by no means a new one, and most Ripperologists discount it as being untrue. However, as a film it makes for a good entertaining premise.
Johnny Depp is good as Inspector Abberline, although his "Cockney" accent is pretty poor! I did not particularly like the reinvention of Abberline as an opium addict, but I suppose each of these films need some new, unique angle on an old tale and this certainly provides a different element to most versions. The mostly British cast puts in some strong performances, an really the only one who let down the side for me was Heather Graham, who was not bad but whose performance was a little lazy for me. And her accent was even worse than Depp's! Ian Holm and Robbie Coltrane are as excellent as ever, and it was their performances that I enjoyed the most.
The film is well made and the atmosphere is excellently built up throughout the film. It is one of those films where you notice something different almost every time you watch it and it takes a couple of watches to appreciate the story fully. Overall this is a good version of the Ripper tale, entertaining though historically inaccurate but, hey, its a film so they are entitled to some artistic licence. If you want to find out who the Ripper was though you will need to read the books, not watch this.
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on 11 July 2005
Talk about atmospheric, this film, set in the dark and dismal streets of the run down Whitechapel area of Victorian London, has hardly a well light scene in the whole of the running time. Gas lamp, candle light and dark shadows are the order of the day in this recreation of the Jack the Ripper story.
Johnny Depp plays Inspector Abberline, the very middle class policemen in charge of the investigation into the series of murders of local prostitutes in the area. Ably assisted by Sgt Godley (Robbie Coltrane) Abberline befriends Mary Kelly (Heather Graham) a beautiful red haired "unfortunate" whose small group of prostitute friends is slowly diminishing in numbers as the Ripper strikes again and again.
More of the plot I cannot give away without ruining some of the secrets but there's many a twist and turn in store for the viewer. Whether this is a truly accurate account of the Ripper tale I'm not sure, and I'm sure there are plenty of Ripper anoraks who'll be only too happy to condemn the film for inaccuracies.
But to judge the film only on its authenticity to the Ripper legend is to miss the main point. This is an extremely thrilling and distinctive film. As I mentioned before the settings in the back streets of Whitechapel are horrendous in their squalor and unpleasantness and extremely well crafted.
Depp plays his part with distinction and great feeling and as always Coltrane provides great support. Other players worthy of mention are Ian Holm and Ian Richardson who play the "pillars" of the upper classes with great skill.
To sum up, even though this film had its fair share of blood and gore and had me hiding behind the cushion on more than one occasion, I was riveted for the duration of the film and definitely enjoyed this period "slasher" movie!
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There have been so many books, movies and TV shows about Jack The Ripper that you might think that the story had been done to death and that nobody would be interested anymore. However, The Hughes brothers "From Hell" proves that there will always be a demand for a quality production of a very grizzly true horror story.
Way back in the 19th century (in the fall of 1888 to be precise) one of the worlds first recorded serial killers brutally murdered five prostitutes (yes, only 5) bringing terror to London's east end slums. And whilst, in terms of numbers, modern serial killers such as Jeffrey Dahmer have been much more prolific, it seems that it is still Jack The Ripper's crimes that continue to still fascinate many people. Is it because of the brutal yet clinical way that the murders were carried out? Or is it because the case remains unsolved? Probably both but as The Hughes brothers, previously best known for the likes of Menace II Society, have set out to prove, that although long dead there are still plenty of 'worthy' suspects.
Based on the Alan Moore/Eddie Campbell cartoon strip and using the very beautiful city of Prague to expertly recreate Victorian London, The Hughes Brothers' latest movie pitches the clairvoyant, opium partaking, Inspector Fred Abberline (an impressive Johnny Depp), aided by his assistant Peter Godley (the always excellent Robbie Coltrane) racing against time in search of history's most notorious murderer, in this very watchable and very enjoyable yarn. Adapted by screenwriters Terry Hayes and Rafael Yglesias from the previously mentioned Moore/Campbell source material, From Hell manages to draw everybody from Queen Victoria to Oscar Wilde and the Elephant Man into the plot of this movie, which far from detracting from the true history of the attacks, actually adds a little more depth and a little more zest to this period thriller. To The Hughes brothers credit, this is not just another typical cheap and tasteless Hollywood slasher movie but instead it presents us with the full squalor, poverty and hardship that existed at that time, with the prostitutes presented as poor unfortunate human beings struggling against abject poverty to survive and finding consolation in alcohol. From Hell also boasts excellent performances of depth and subtlety not just from the likes of Depp (complete with a creditable cockney accent), Coltrane (Harry Potter) and renowned British stage actor Sir Ian Holm (Lord of the Rings) but also notably from the likes of (despite a slightly ropey accent) Heather Graham, Lesley Sharp, Annabelle Apsion and the late Katrin Cartlidge (No Man's Land) as the prostitutes earning their living in the squalor that was London's east end.
In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed From Hell and would recommend it to anyone looking for something a bit more intelligent, well written and well acted, as an alternative to the traditional horror teen flicks which seem to dominate our cinemas on a weekly basis. Four stars ****.
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on 9 April 2003
This is without doubt the best Jack The Ripper movie that's been made yet. Having missed it during its cinema run but having heard a lot about the movie, I rented "From Hell" when it came out on DVD. I was disappointed with the rental version but only for one reason: none of the extras were present! So I took the plunge and bought the DVD 2-disc set. Prior to watching the movie, I knew very little about any of the details of the Whitechapel murders that took place in 1888 although of course - like everyone else - I'd heard of Jack The Ripper.
Seeing the movie prompted me to seek out more information about the Jack The Ripper case. I had a feeling, whilst watching the movie, that certain liberties had been taken - for dramatic effect - and I was proved right when I discovered some of the facts about the real case (such as Inspector Abberline being a lot older than Depp's characterisation and living well into his '80s!)
The film sets are stunning - a perfect recreation of the grimy, filthy East End of London in Victorian time. The extras on the 2nd disc reveal that the Hughes Brothers had initially planned to film in the streets of Prague in the Czech Republic but it was impractical so a 'replica' of Whitechapel 1888 was built from scratch! The murder sites are re-created with incredible accuracy. This project was undoubtedly a labour of love for the Hughes Brothers and it paid off handsomely.
The movie itself is brilliant. Quite simply put, it's one of the best films I've seen in the last couple of years. Now I'm quite squeamish but I managed to make it through to the end with hardly any head-turns. The ghastly acts of the Ripper are not shown to us in great detail and respect must go to the Hughes Brothers for not selling out and making this another gore-filled 'slasher' flick. The tension and the suspense is all there, underpinned by awesome orchestrated music from Trevor Jones. Depp is on form as usual (with a very convincing East End accent) but it's seasoned British veteran actor Ian Holm who arguably steals the film.
An under-rated gem of a movie which should be on any serious movie collector's shelf.
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VINE VOICEon 17 February 2004
I am a big Johnny Depp fan and was pleased again by his performance in this movie. I have always been fascinated by the story of Jack The Ripper, and was glad to see the result of this film. Many people have critisized it for not being accurate enough, but quite frankly, who cares when a film is this good?
Johnny Depp plays Inspector Fred Abberline. Robbie Coltrane plays his friend, Sergeant Godley. Together they try to solve the murders that are occuring in the Whitechapel area of London. For the benefit of those who have absolutely no idea what the Jack the Ripper story entails, he prayed upon prostitutes in the area and slit their throats and mutilated their bodies.
Ian Holm is absolutely fantastic in this movie. He is everything that his character should be. There are many great performances throughout this film, too many to list individually. Those performances given by the women playing the prostitues are brilliant.
I watched this film in complete bliss, (as wrong as they may be considering the content!), and have struggled hard to find something wrong with it. The only thing I can come up with is Heather Graham's English accent, which seems to slip into the typical American trying to do a cockney accent and failing. But it isn't so bad that it spoilt the movie.
I would recommend this movie to any true film buff and just suggest that, if you are intrigued by the story of Jack the Ripper, you watch this with an open mind and try not to be too judgemental when it comes to the facts. This is after all just a movie and not a true life documentary.
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on 26 March 2006
With a new angle I don't mean the theory about who Jack the Ripper was. The theory expounded in this film apparently goes back to 1976, but of that anon.
The new angle here is how the film tells its story. The perspective is one from the streets, focusing on life in Whitechapel. Most of the beginning of the film is told from the prostitute's point of view, only later does Abberline come in and slowly take over the role as lead. That makes the film very evocative - another major strength. The atmosphere is so tense and eerie the whole way through, with only very little bright light (e.g. when Abberline and Mary Kelly meet during the day), most of the film being cast in shadows and dark red hues.
The theory itself is an interesting one (even if the Ripper turns out to be one of the usual suspects), certainly one that's hard to guess from the outset, even if you have dabbled in Ripperology.
What I also liked about the film (and I don't know to what extent this is taken from the graphic novel, not having read it) is that it also contains a story of impossible love before the backdrop of the murders, which gives the whole story and Depp's character (Inspector Abberline, played by Depp as always brilliantly) a depth and emotional power which would otherwise be missing.
A definite must have.
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on 3 December 2006
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.
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on 10 February 2006
I am studying jack the ripper at the moment, so I thought I would try this film out. It is not accurate, but that didn’t matter I was captivated. The sets are very close to what the streets would of looked like at the time and that gives the film great atmosphere.
The film may not be factually correct but that doesn't matter, it's a film and a good one at that. As a stand-alone horror its fantastic and a very good mystery film. Johnny Depp is great as usual but the real star is Ian Holmes who is fantastic and captivating. The film will have you guessing and hopefully get people interested enough to read up on the case, but if your just looking for a good chilled out horror film this is as good as any and I would highly recommend it. It is scary and tense and it doesn't just focus on the Jack the ripper case, more of what was happening around the time as well, its great fun. Considering it was adapted from a graphic novel, you don't expect it to be factual but as an adaptation it is brilliant and very close to the novels, the prostitutes also provide some laughs.
I urge you to see it, especially at the price Amazon have on offer, don't expect anything greatly factual just something fun and stylish.
The 2 disc version has a great documentary but it is expensive, this is substantial especially if your just buying this for a horror film, the special features on the special features on the 2 disc edition focus on the jack the ripper case rather than the film, so make your decision, I feel its a good film and a bit of fun.
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VINE VOICEon 23 January 2012
The film recieved mixed reviews when it came out a few years ago, i read alot of people saying it was more style over substance, i have to say i disagree.

For a start the cast is fantastic, Depp, Holm, Coltrane, Graham are all great, but to be honest Ian Holm is the star here, his effortless acting shines throughout this film. Depp is as cool and collective as ever and Coltrane a good side kick. The weakest is Heather Graham, this is probably down to her dodgey cockney accent and i think the fact she looks uncomfortable doing it makes it sound worse than it could be.

The story is well written, despite having a few plot holes and a silly romantic sub-plot which doesnt detract from the film but its needless realy and adds nothing to it. Its based on one of several theories of Jack the Ripper, it will please some lovers of the now infamous legend of the Ripper, but the sometimes lack of depth or real horror will also annoy others.

Indeed it has style and bags of it, its well made and looks amazing and edgey throughout. Dark corners and brilliantly lit scenes give it an almost uncomfortable feel to the movie.

All in all its a great film and worth a watch, wether your a thriller/horror fan or a fan of Depp or Holm.

Now for the Blu-ray itself.

The transfer is fantastic, Blu-rays are like a minefield at the moment, some half baked transfers are out there that realy do not improve on the DVD release, this however has been done with alot of effort.

Most of the film is dark and the blu-ray edition realy makes the most of it, the darkness is deep and the colors vibrant when needed. The sound quality is fantastic too, with the excellent sound track (not the horrible teckno pap used on the trailer) looming in the background throughout.

Feature wise its a bit thin on the ground, trailers and the usual basic stuff but for £5 you cannot complain.

Well worth a place in anyones Blu-ray collection.
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on 28 November 2015
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