"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" DVD Review
May 26, 2008 by Zach Demeter
With such an age-old tale as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it seems hard to imagine the story being any different throughout its myriad of remakes and re-imaginations over the years. This latest redux stars Dougray Scott as the charming Dr. Jekyll and the vicious Mr. Hyde, alongside Krista Bridges and Tom Skerritt as the lawyer and friends of Dr. Jekyll. It doesn’t take much to realize that this film isn’t trying anything new—it’s simply a modernized version of the vicious split personality story that’s been told through the years, with a little bit more gore and rage than we’re used to.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde recounts the tale of Dr. Jekyll, a brilliant doctor who is a highly successful physician. After some medical experiments, Jekyll unwittingly unleashes a killer upon the city in the form of Mr. Hyde. This dark side to Jekyll runs through the city, killing victims and taking mementos from each one as a “souvenir.” Soon, Jekyll realizes that his dark side is taking control at random moments and wreaking havoc on the city. Spending countless hours in the lab, Jekyll researches cure after cure before finally landing on the solution to get out the harmful substance from his bloodstream…but is it already too late for Jekyll to get rid of the demonic Hyde once and for all?
The movie, apparently originally produced for television (according to IMDb), never saw airwaves but found a home on DVD with the help of Genius Productions. While the production values are up there in terms of TV films, it just doesn’t feel like a fully-produced Hollywood film so don’t expect to be blown away by the cinematography or anything. However I will say that the acting by Dougray Scott, especially in the Hyde character was rather entertaining to watch, simply because was able to pull off the twisted dark-side mentality so well. Even with that, however, the film was simply too generic to really get into.
While the film has a few entertaining elements’ going for it, for the most part it’s a rather tame and predictable venture. Before the final frames of the film ran, I felt like I already knew how it was going to end (and it ended exactly as I thought it would) and while there’s only so many places you can take this classic story, I still would’ve liked a bit more of a unique take on it. Fancy court proceedings added into the later of the film added absolutely nothing to the final production and I felt rather bored waiting for the inevitable outcome of it all.
The film doesn’t take too much time to explore the characters too much in its scant eighty-nine minute run time, which is a bit of a shame since I think Scott could have done more with the troubled doctor/wicked dark side nature of the character. We saw so little of Hyde in the film, but I suppose that’s how most successful horror movies do it; keep the villain cloaked for the majority of the picture, it heightens tension. Only with Hyde there really wasn’t that much to be too scared about and there was no graphic murders (I think there’s more blood on the packaging for this film than in the entire film), so there wasn’t too much to be shocked by. All in all it’s a rather by-the-book production that doesn’t show off the full potential of the character—I’m sure more could have been done, but the ninety-minute run time just really choked it.
Overall the film is a standard TV movie fair with a more modern version of the classic horror tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s not quite as gruesome by today’s standards with movies like From Hell and Sweeney Todd showing the darkest demonic murderers possible, so don’t expect to be afraid or grossed out at any time during the duration of the film. While Scott’s performance is admirable, it doesn’t carry the film far enough to really warrant a viewing. Skip It or Rent It if you absolutely must see every horror movie made.
For a film I’d never heard of, the film gets quite the representation on DVD…at least on the outside. An embossed foil reflective slip cover will make the DVD pop out on retail shelves and the package does a decent job advertising that it should be an interesting film, but unfortunately the film doesn’t hold that end of the bargain up. Inside the case we find only the disc which mirrors the rear cover art. Menu’s are simple and easy to navigate with little fuss.
Video and audio for this release are rather decent. Picture can be a bit soft at time but overall it’s a decent presentation. Audio is a rather weak 5.1 English mix that stays mostly front focused—only a few of the more intense Hyde sequences actually activate the rears. Oddly enough there are no subtitles or alternative language tracks…nor is there even any closed captioning. It’s a rather stripped DVD…it’s been a long time I’ve seen a release without subtitles.
Extras for the set include…a single “A Man of Many Faces” (16:07) featurette. This extra is a sit down session with actor Dougray Scott which talks about his feelings towards the film and why he chose to do it. It’s a rather weak extra as usually with these we don’t hear the interviewee asking the questions, but here we hear her in the background, rather distant and sometimes inaudible. Luckily Scott repeats the questions usually as he thinks about the answer, but this whole DVD seems kind an afterthought. Perhaps they thought they could make more selling it as a DTV rather than airing it on TV…or perhaps it still will somewhere in the future, who knows.
Overall this release is weak. The film is lackluster and the extra feature presented here simply isn’t enough to warrant a purchase or even a rental. Scott’s performance is, again, admirable, but it’s simply not worth going out of your way to see the film. Skip It.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde arrives on DVD on May 27th.