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Heavy on atmosphere and light on everything else, From Hell is visually impressive while lacking the depth of the acclaimed graphic novel it's based upon. Making their third feature since 1993's Menace II Society, twins Allen and Albert Hughes approach the Jack the Ripper case with physical precision, re-creating the gritty Whitechapel district of 1888 London in meticulous detail. What they've forgotten is the sheer terror that gripped Whitechapel in the wake of the Ripper's slaying of five prostitutes, investigated here by a Scotland Yard sleuth (Johnny Depp) who uses opium, laudanum and absinthe to fuel his semi-prescient visions of the slayings. Heather Graham attempts a slippery Cockney accent as a would-be victim, while Ian Holm steals the show as a has-been surgeon with devilish delusions of grandeur. Violence is obliquely suggested or briefly graphic, but no matter how you cut it, From Hell is only marginally thrilling as it treads familiar territory.--Jeff Shannon
On the DVD: From Hell on disc is presented in widescreen 16:9 glory with atmospheric DTS or Dolby Digital 5.1 sound options. The animated menus look nice but are more than a little confusing. The 23 deleted scenes, including an alternative ending, are all offered in black and white with commentary and justification for the cuts by Albert Hughes. Film commentary is offered by Albert Hughes, screen writer Rafael Yglesias, cinematographer Peter Deming and Robbie Coltraine.
Disc 2 has a wealth of information including a "Victim/Suspect File" which takes you through Jack the Ripper theories from the 19th-century police investigation to modern speculations, including Allen Hughes Elephant Man theory! The Production Notes show the locations in Prague and the "Tour of Whitechapel" is a murder-by-murder set visit with the Hughes brothers. Theres a feature on the original graphic novel; "Absinthe Lovers" offer an insight into the psychedelic drink; and, finally, the HBO special "A View from Hell", with Heather Graham, is standard promotional fare.--Nikki Disney
DVD Special Features:
Mini-documentary "Tour of the Whitechapel"
A "Making Of" and behind-the-scenes with the Hughes brothers
Interactive documentary "Jack the Ripper: 6 degrees of separation"
23 deleted scenes with optional alternate ending
Commentary by Directors Albert and Allen Hughes
HBO special A View from Hell Origional Aspect Ration: 2.35:1
Sound & Picture Quality: Dolby 5.1/ DTS
Subtitles: English for the hearing impaired, Spanish, French