PicturePresented in the now standard 1080P and encoded using the MPEG4 AVC system, From Hell looks mighty fine indeed. Beamed in it's original aspect ration of 2.35:1, a lot of the movie is set in the dark, with the sets lit only by the gas lamps that were the order of the day.
I'm glad to say that the picture holds out to the murkiness. A lot of the backgrounds are made of red brick buildings, a prime target for video noise and digital artefacts - of which there are none of to report of here.
If I'm pushed, I would say that opening scene in the Chinese club suffers slightly from bit rate starvation - but only slightly. Shadow detail is immense and skin tones are spot on. Look particularly at Mary Kelly - her bright red hair and rosy cheeks seem to glow above everything else on set - she actually looks like a red traffic light!
There is zero colour bleed and no edge enhancement that I could see. But, is it a step up from the DVD release and does it bode well for the potential flood of Fox Blu-ray discs that we have been promised...?
Carrying out a direct comparison between this and the Reg 1 2 disc special edition that I have owned since it's release, I can say that there is a definite step up in quality in the picture department. However, it's not night and day. There is more minute details in this picture and it is overall brighter. The question is, is it worth splashing out on if I own the DVD...? I'll answer that question in the summary. Read on.
SoundCarrying a DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio track that was subsequently down mixed to what we used to call full bit rate DTS (but is now called DTS HD for some bizarre reason), the sound mix is a master class in the craft. It's not that it's any more dynamic than anything else I have heard, it's the placement of the sounds themselves that elevate this soundtrack above others.
The first time we see the murky streets of Whitechapel, it's night time and people are pouring out of the Ten Bells pub. Voices are heard all around, a horse and carriage passes right to left, gin bottles rattle rear right and a woman screams and then laughs rear left. Everything is anchored to the channel from which it came. Dialogue is crystal clear and centred firmly on the centre speaker. When the going gets nasty, there's the distinct cchhiiinnngg of metal upon metal as the knife is drawn to carry out it's ghastly task. It can get pretty gruesome at times.
The score by Trevor Jones fits the bill nicely and comes spookily from all five speakers - and occasionally from the LFE channel as well - just in case you weren't frightened enough.
The SD DVD was reference material when it was released. This is a step up in quality - but may still not be enough to recommend it over the 2 disc edition...
ExtrasBefore we go any further, this is where this disc falls flat on it's Blu-ray face. Before I cover what is on here, I'll mention that all the good stuff on disc two of the SD disc is missing - including the two brilliant documentaries about Jack The Ripper...seeing as though space on the disc is supposed to be one of Blu-rays big selling points, there can't be any excuse for this. A word of warning though - this seems to be the way Fox are going to go with their back catalogue. If you read my colleague Andrew Mogfords review of The Day After Tomorrow, the same seems to have been done there as well - no second disc extras.
However, lets report on what is actually here, shall we? Strangely, it's all the extras that appeared on the first disc of the SD DVD - as per The Day After Tomorrow
First up is a Commentary by the directors, Robbie Coltrane and screenwriter Rafael Yglesias, and cinematographer Peter Deming.. To be honest, it's one of the best commentaries I've had the pleasure of listening to. It appears that it did really hurt to have to change the story to fit into a two hour film. But at over 500 pages, the film would have had to have been over six hours long to accommodate it all!
Twenty deleted scenes make up the next part of the extras package. At about a minute each, none of them would have brought anything to the table so were rightly left out.
The Trivia Track is actually an Hi Def extra produced especially for the Blu-ray disc. Press yes to engage it during the film and you are greeted by pop ups at various intervals. These give some insight into what was changed from the novel and also some historical and film relevant facts. They appear on scrolls that have various body parts drawn on them and some are splattered with blood - which is a nice touch if you like that sort of thing. Point to note though - watch the film first. Not only do they contain spoilers, some of them half cover the screen and you can't see what's going on underneath.
The Original Theatrical Trailer tops of what is a pretty weak set of extras. More a case of what really isn't here than what is I'm afraid...
VerdictAs a standalone movie, From Hell isn't half bad. If you are a major fan of the graphic novel, then you may well be disappointed with this offering as a lot had to be left out. The story still ticks along very nicely though and with Johnny Depps name above the title, how could it fail...?
Well fail it did. With a gross worldwide taking of just $35 million, From Hell seems to have found a bit of a cult following on DVD and now on Blu-ray disc as well - but is that DVD worth updating to this shiny High Definition version...?
The picture quality is a step up from the SD version - albeit a small one. The sound quality, presented in DTS 5.1 HD Master is real demo material - not for the dynamics, but to show of the sound engineer plying his trade. So two plusses above the DVD so far...where this set fails miserably though is on the extras front. Ok, we get a pretty clever and informative trivia track. But missing is everything from disc two of the DVD - the documentaries, the interactive investigation, the tour of the actual murder sites and more. To me, what we have here is a slightly polished version of the single disc SD DVD. I'm sorry Fox, if you really want to capture the High Definition audience you so crave, why not give all those featurettes a Hi Def polishing and include them here?
I find it hard to recommend this disc as an upgrade to those of you that may own the two disc special edition DVD. I gave my two disc edition away when this disc came for review - but I managed to sneak disc two out before I did - I can only suggest you do the same.
Before I go, one more little moan at Fox from me and then I'll leave it - there's a directors cut of this movie coming soon to SD DVD - complete with all the goody extras. Why oh why did you not put THAT version on this Blu-ray disc? Wonders cease to amaze me...
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