GAWD! NOT another of those Jack The Ripper obsessed kind films! But it is - complete with theorisations, blood, gore, prostitutes with hearts and a grimy, dank, White chapel (a district in England) of the late 1800s! In the last few years, there have been several films made on the true life gruesome killings by Jack The Ripper. And you wonder why Hughes Brothers launched yet another version - and at the end of the film, you are no nearer to an answer than at the beginning.
Twentieth Century Fox film, ``From Hell," is another re-telling of the violent story of the Victorian prostitute slaying serial killer, Jack The Ripper. But this time it is based on Alan Moore's graphic novel, originally banned as pornographic, now accepted as a classic. An added dimension in this film is the Royal Conspiracy theory, as written in Stephen Knight's, ``Jack The Ripper: The Final Solution." These are historical accounts around the time of the murders, but never really proved - which the film does point out. For all the gloomy, dark beginning with the Ripper's proud quote `of the 20th Century being equated with him,' you are not really chilled to the bone. Even if the killer yanks out ovaries and hearts of only one bunch of prostitutes and not random, as one would expect from a serial killer. Well obviously he finds this group easier to prey upon. And you have Ripper hunter, Inspector Abberline, who shares a psychic bond with the killer - only his visions come too late to do anything about it. As for the victims by making them friends and therefore the only visible prostitutes in London, the film robs itself of the surprise element, which could have made this an edge of the seat experience. And if Abberline is not rushing about after the scene of the crime, he lolls about in opium dens, drinking absinthe and taking laudanum. That's when he has his visions, you see! While he looks very exotic and romantic floating away on his half focused images, it does a fat lot of good when it comes to being an inspector. Johnny Depp plays inspector Abberline, a bit of a distracting character because of his accent and his demeanour. You never know where he will spring from. Heather Graham is Mary Keller, one of the goody goody prostitutes (the most good looking of the bunch, but hardly ever working). She is one who berates Abberline initially for not being able to find the killer. But then she is also the one who later predictably, falls in love with him. The only unpredictable element in their story is that Abberline is unable to save her. That is a very nicely done scene.
Robbie Coltraine plays Abberline's trusted sidekick Sgt Godley, who is a straightforward cop drawing conclusions from concrete evidence. He is intrigued by Abberline's intuition and unorthodox methods, but accepts his visions as genuine and feels compelled to act upon them. Ian Holm plays Sir William Gull, a physician to the Royal Family and powerful enough to assist the shunned inspector. Gull tells him that it is certain that someone with medical knowledge is committing these murders. Gull also advises Abberline on the instruments likely to be used - and Abberline eventually deduces that these killings are part of a menacing conspiracy involving the order of the Freemasons, who are in turn acting on the behest of the Monarchy itself. Since the whole film begins and ends in darkness, there is not much visual appeal unless of course people like the horror variety of films. Some of the strongest visuals are when Abberline goes through his drug-induced visions. They are dramatic and gory. The first killing too, is handled very well but the subsequent ones are passé. And neither is the Ripper character all that intimidating. The hunt to track him down, is confusing and more of a meandering than a fast chase.
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