ninth symphony films - movie reviews

FROM HELL (2001)

DIRECTOR  -  the hughes bros.

RATED  -  r

GENRE  -  horror

LENGTH  -  122 minutes

RELEASED  -  19 october 2001

DISTRIBUTOR  -  20th century fox

OFFICIAL SITE  -  from hell

ESTIMATED BUDGET  -  $35,000,000
from hell - a shot from the film


buy the dvd from from hell at

buy the dvd from from hell at

based upon the legendary serial killer "jack the ripper", inspector frederick abberline investigates the mysterious murders of prostitutes within the whitechapel district of london. also an adaption of the graphic novel of the same name by alan moore.

the line "jack the ripper's not finished," which was included in several previews, is not in the film itself.


picture from from hell

picture from from hell

picture from from hell


two out of four possible stars

Loaded down with a plot heavier than a Buick, From Hell suffers from such a convoluted story that doesn't allow the viewer to just forget he's watching a movie. Despite it's lethargic pace, this film has an answer that is so complicated that when you get to the end, the reasons for what has happened just really don't matter. After watching a twenty minute ending that explained why Jack was doing what Jack seemed to do so well, the source for the carnage came from a solution so serpentine that I found it hard to care about the characters by the end of the film. The story was a good diversion for most of the film, and there were many unique elements to keep me interested, but I believe that the film plotted too much to be natural.

It just took too much time in explaining why these killings happened. Before I saw the film, I looked a little bit into the plot and what I was in for when i saw this film and saw the dreaded over-the-two-hour mark. Unless you're bombing nazi's or telling the eighty year story of a family in brooklyn, there's no reason to have a movie that two hours and seventeen minutes long. They could have fully cut the last half hour of this film off and I would have been more satisfied with the ending. As it was, I felt that the filmmakers cared more about the plot than they did the characters. The people of this film and their feelings and psychology was secondary to the plot.

Perhaps the mystery genre requires a large amount of explanation in some cases, but I feel here that it would have been more effective to create a story based on the lives of the lead characters, rather than a plot dictating what the characters had to do. But problems with the story aside, this film did have other things to offer that were positive. The casting of the supporting characters for this film was very good. Though I have to point out that I believe the entire cast was English, save for the two lead characters. I don't suppose it could be a hollywood film any other way though. But back to those supporting actors.

The group of women who play Heather Graham's circle of friends were all unique and individual and gave the film a good sense of variety. They might have all sported the same white-chapel accents, but each actress brought her own style to her part. The people acting around Johnny Depp were well cast too. Every person added something different to this film. Two additional elements to this film that I found well put were the cinematography and the music. It seems as thought the cinematographer decided to create a look for this film that seemed somewhat modern in comparison to the time in which this film is supposed to take place.

There is an especially interesting shot where after one of the murders has occurred, some time-lapse photography is used to speed up the process from when the body is first discovered to when there is a large crowd of onlookers surrounding the body. This way of filmming doesn't really echo the 1888 london era, but it makes the movie much more creative and out of the ordinary. The music was also a very interesting part to the film. At times I thought that the composer was aiming for some kind of physical music for his score with a low, deep bass sound that seemed to shake the whole theater. Of course, that could just have been the fancy techno theater speakers I was surrounded with, but in any case, the effect was chilling.

Which I suppose was the goal in this film. Neither too gory, nor too over the top, what the audience sees in this film is more an art-full way of filmming a classic story. Also, a curious element to this film was a subtle amount of humor present in it. At certain times in the story, after something very bad had happened something funny popped up on the screen. Whether it was from the look or body movement of the characters, or something someone said, the short moments of humor in the film were a nice addition. For example, during one scene, Heather Graham's character is taken forcibly into police custody for some questioning. The man who takes her off the street and places her in a carriage where Johnny Depp says something like "she's in love with me. She just has a funny way of showing it."

Again, the mood of this film is very dark, yet there are just a few amusing moments that, for better or worse, give the story another angle. I don't mean to say this humor is anywhere near the odd jokes in Original Sin though. The humor is instead well placed and appropriate.

Taking into consideration the good parts of this film, and the clunky ones, this film seems to be a moderate success with a few major drawbacks and some small successes. The acting from Johnny and Heather was nothing more than good, but I suspect this stems from the convoluted script and long running time. There are several good parts to this movie, but those last twenty minutes or so seem to really drag. And that weights the whole movie down. But all is not lost. Though not worth an evening priced ticket, this film is probably worth seeing on the big screen if only for the dark room the theater provides. Just don't pay too much attention to the whole explanation of events and it'll pass by quickly enough.

Review by Kelsey Wyatt.

content 2000 - - ninth symphony films - photographs 20th century fox 2001
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