From Hell
dir The Hughes Brothers
scr Terry Hayes, Rafael Yglesias
with Johnny Depp, Heather Graham, Ian Holm, Jason Flemyng, Robbie Coltrane, Susan Lynch, Katrin Cartlidge, Lesley Sharp, Terence Harvey, Estelle Skornik, Paul Rhys, Ian Richardson
release US 19.Oct.01; UK 8.Feb.02
Fox 01/US 2h01
3 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
only the legend will survive Jack the Ripper gets another cinematic outing with this rather creepy and violent thriller from the Hughes Brothers (Menace II Society), based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. So why isn't it more original than this? We see the events of 1888 London through the eyes of the depressed, opium-addicted police inspector Abberline (Depp) working with his sardonic partner (Coltrane) to get to the bottom of a series of particularly brutal murders. There's a group of prostitutes (Graham, Lynch, Cartledge, Sharp, etc) who share a common secret, two shifty doctors (Holm and Rhys) and a few other dodgy characters (Flemyng, Harvey, Richardson, etc) lurking in the shadows.

Oddly, the film doesn't take the well-told story in any new directions--never cranking up either the mystery or the horror. Even the Big Revelation at the end is based on the conventional opinion of whodunit. About the only addition to the tale is a tentative romance between Depp and Graham ... as well as the Hugheses stylistic flourishes. The film looks great, with the Czech Republic standing in perfectly for Victorian London and a terrific use of cinematography and effects. But it's all rather meaningless, really. There's not much depth; the emotions never rise to the surface despite solid performances all around (Flemyng is the standout, giving his pathetic character loads of intriguing subtext). But the various twists and turns aren't surprising, and in the end it adds up to a rather efficiently made police psycho-drama, really, and nothing more.
themes, grisly violence, langauge cert 18 10.Dec.01

R E A D E R   R E V I E W S
only the legend will survive send your review to Shadows... "One of the worst films ever! I could start saying that the film is a succession of cliches, from Depp's opium-smoking scenes directly taken from Once upon a Time in America (exact same shots, different actors, not exactly to Depp's advantage, might I add), to the use of blue and red special effects lights from Dracula, to the sugary romance between Graham and Depp, to her VERY fake irish accent and her extremely poor acting performance, and I could go on like that. I could also add that the end is dreadful with a scene of Graham in her (yeah right!) native and surprisingly sunny Ireland outside of her top-of-the-cliff cosy cottage (how did that happen? From being a penniless prostitute in London to owning a gorgeous house in fantastic scenery?) standing at the top of the cliff (lots of wind) with not a single hair moving. The list is endless on why nobody should go and spend money to watch this film. The only question we can ask, however, is what was Johnny Depp thinking when he accepted the part?" --Laurence Richard, Southampton 15.Feb.02
2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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