6 January 2008 | Robodok
Not the shocking film it tries to be
I checked out this version of J&H on TV mainly because I'm a fan of John Hannah, but he was very disappointing in this role. It was his affability that made him a treat to watch in films such as 'Sliding Doors' and 'Four Weddings and a Funeral', and it is that very trait that undermines his portrayal of Mr Hyde. He is completely unconvincing as a menacing, dangerous figure, and the decision not to present Mr Hyde as physically different from Dr Jekyll exacerbates this problem, although it is an interesting choice artistically and could have paid rich dividends in the hands of an actor capable of projecting a truly intimidating presence. Also, his acts of barbarity, which are obviously meant to be shocking, don't have the desired effect; this is partly because of our familiarity with the story, but more so because of the lack of any real tension or suspense of any kind. Not only does Mr Hyde not seem as menacing as he is meant to be, but Dr Jekyll never convinces us that he was a paragon of virtue in the first place, due to inadequate exposure in the screenplay as well as the underwhelming acting and direction. The performances from the supporting actors likewise feel rather wet and unconvincing.
It seems to me that the theme of this film was that there truly was no difference between Jekyll and Hyde, and that it was Dr Jekyll who deliberately chose evil. This point is made repeatedly in several repetitive scenes where Dr Jekyll keeps talking about "removing impurities" and that in the end he will "contain evil", and the servant Mabel time and again discusses the fact that we are able to choose between good and evil. This might have been an interesting subject had is been dealt with more subtly. The battle between the good and evil sides of a person also became more ridiculous as it became more explicit, and the resolution seemed to be designed more for its non-existent shock value than for any faithfulness to either the tale as it was originally told or to the tale as it had been told thus far in this film.
Even if, or maybe especially if you are a fan of John Hannah, stay clear of this film if you want to avoid being disappointed on all levels.