British History Challenge 38 + Bonus Reviews | Jack the Ripper

And now we find ourselves coming to the end of the Victorian period… I’d like to say its been fun, but for the most part its been a large letdown…  Anyway… We’ve reached 1888 and there’s a murderer on the loose….

#38: Jack The Ripper (1988)

General Opinion: It looks nice, The plotting is mostly there… But why oh why did they have to give it that ending?

Review: The first thing I noticed about this was how well constructed it was. It looked like London in 1888, or very much how I would imagine it to be. Whitechapel looks grimy, run down and a bit dodgy whilst the more up market parts of London are posh and over the top. The poor look poor and the well to do look well to do.

The film makers have put in a real effort to try and recreate the murder scenes, which is something you don’t normally see (and made even more impressive by the fact that they’re now all car parks and office blocks) Quite astonishing when you consider most films would just make it up.

And the plot is mostly there too. Once it gets going (which really doesn’t take long) The story winds into an intriguing, classic whodunnit style murder mystery, presenting the facts, the evidence and progressing steadily through the investigation. It’s done very well and most, if not all of the facts of the investigation are there: The psychic they hired, the left handedness, the letters etc. It is, for the most part, well researched.

However… The main problem is that they’ve twisted it to suit their own, rather implausible ending. I’ll admit, it was a nice idea to give it some sort of closure, but that’s not what happened. The last half an hour or so is especially ridiculous and by the end the whole thing has descended into a mess of conspiracy and cover up. The only thing I like about the ending is the way they tie up what happened to all of the characters (suspects included). And for the most part, this is accurate.

Then they have the cheek to make certain character amendments for no clear purpose. They suggest the victims knew each other (they didn’t.) One of the suspects (John Netley, a cab driver) is depicted as being a member of Queen Victoria’s household (he wasn’t) another suspect changes nationality and Detective Abberline is portrayed as a recovering alcoholic (He wasn’t).

Despite the botched characterization and ending though, its alright. Its worth a watch.

Rating: 7/10- Let down by a botched ending and some bad characterisation

Bonus Reviews

# From Hell

General Opinion: Wha? Arghhhghghgh!

Review: Now I normally like films based on Alan Moore’s works. V for Vendetta and Watchmen are both awesome reinterpretations of historical events. But this is just wrong.

For a start the setting doesn’t look or feel right. It doesn’t feel like Victorian London. It looks obviously fake. There’s not enough grime, the background CGI is poor and far too stylised for my tastes as well. And nobody really looks Victorian. They all look like modern people dressed in Victorian clothes. Nobody looks poor and destitute, not even the prostitutes. In fact, they look like they’re living rather comfortable lives. There’s no withered old hags or street urchins or anybody like that hanging around. Whitechapel in 1888 was notoriously crowded, unlike here/

And then you have Abberline… Oh dear! I’m sorry to any Johnny Depp fans out there but he is NOT Abberline. Even if they’d got the character right, I don’t think he’d be right for the part. In the film, Abberline is not only an opium addict (he wasn’t) But in the process of the plot he happens to fall in love with Mary Jane Kelly (who inexplicably survives) and then (SPOILER ALERT) dies of an overdose at the end. This is ludicrous as NONE OF THIS HAPPENED.

Another thing: This film once again uses the idea that all the victims knew each other and then runs off with it to suggest that they were all witnesses to a marriage between one of the prostitutes and the heir to the throne, Prince Albert Victor, and that the whole thing is a masonic conspiracy fronted by the same person who turned out to be the Ripper in the previous film.

And to supplement this, they’ve added extra clues like a grape twig at every murder scene and something to do with Cleopatra’s Needle which I couldn’t quite understand.

What I don’t understand is why this isn’t in some alternative history, like the rest of Alan Moore’s works… Like Watchmen is in a world without Watergate or Extradordinary Gentlemen is in a world where fictional characters are real. This just takes established history and goes wild tearing it into little tiny shreds… I’m not sure what the comic is like and I’m not sure I want to know after seeing this.

Rating: 1/10- Not very good at all.

#Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World:  (Episode 49: The Knife)

General Opinion: I want to cry… This is bad.

Review: Where oh where to begin with this one? The plot might be a good point… For starters this is a series very loosely based on the first book Conan Doyle’s ‘Professor Challenger trilogy’ (The Lost World, The Poison Belt and The Land of Mist). When I say loosely, i mean really loosely… They got three series out of it somehow. God knows how because it is absolute trash. Firstly they’ve Americanised the whole thing, which is never a good sign. The person playing Challenger is trying to do his worst William Shatner impression throughout. For some reason they’ve added a scantily dressed tribal native girl with ninja skills (don’t ask) and they’ve turned the whole thing into a cheap, cheesy, crappily clichéd ‘supernatural fantasy’ borefest…As well as a few crappily animated dinosaurs.

As for the episode itself… It revolves around Challenger and Malone (who was a journalist in the book… Not sure what he is here) discovering a camp where somebody has ripped open a few velociraptor. In this camp they find a knife and when Malone touches it he starts having a vision of Victorian London where John Netley (The cab driver) is butchering a prostitute. And each time he touches the knife again he gets a different vision of someone else as Jack the Ripper (one a policeman and the other the SAME GOD DAMNED PERSON AS IN THE ABOVE TWO FILMS) Then those two I have just mentioned turn out to be the people who made the camp and they want their knife back so they can continue butchering. And it turns out that all three (The Policeman, Netley and The Above) were working together as Jack the Ripper back in 1888…

Or was it 1888? The series explicitly says it takes place at the beginning of the 20th century… Which in my mind would be maybe 1895-1913. or thereabouts. The book was written in 1912 so that would make sense… But when the policeman first turns up he explicitly states he’s been looking for Jack the Ripper ‘for thirty years’ and then later states ‘thirty four years’ thirty four years from 1888 would be 1922… Which IS NOT the beginning of the 20th century. And The suspect above? Surprisingly young considering he was already quite old when the Ripper murders took place. He was seventy three. Which, thirty four years later, would make him one hundred and seven.. And then at the end he gets ripped apart by two velociraptor… (ARGHHHHH!)

And as for the scenes in Victorian London… Dear God! To begin with, they have a ridiculous, over the top chase of Netley through the streets of London… hiding round corners etc (you now the sort of chase i mean) And then there’s a point where the poor of Whitechapel actually catch him and beat him to death, in short, CATCHING JACK THE RIPPER WHICH NEVER HAPPENED! And then they go so far as to suggest that all the murders happened in one night. NO THEY DIDN’T! They even get one of the victim’s names wrong. It seems to me that whoever wrote this just used what they knew about Jack the Ripper (He was in Victorian London and he murdered Prostitutes) and just hammered this together hoping no one would notice the botch up and the lack of research… Well I did…

Then the accents are appalling. One of the female members of the main cast (who wasn’t in the book, not sure why she’s there) is supposed to be an English aristocrat and she speaks in a very bad, posh, stereotypical ‘American trying to do an English accent’ accent. And the Londoners have really bad ‘Dick Van Dyke’ style cockney accents. It’s cringeworthy. Add to this that the script is diabolically shit and you have a massive heap of rubbish on your hands…

Rating: 0/10

(Don’t watch this if you don’t want to be traumatized by it’s awfulness)

I’ve got my own theory on the Ripper anyway… Think on this: How did he escape so quickly and get away when the police would have been everywhere and everyone would have been looking for him? He would have been covered in blood.

As I see it there are three ways he could have gone:

A) Either he was a woman or dressed as one, most likely a midwife (They might have noticed this one I think… This is an idea that Conan Doyle himself believed)

B) He got away through the sewers (which might explain why the murders stopped suddenly… He caught something and died)

C) He got away ‘Assassins Creed Style’ over the rooftops (Less likely but intriguing)

I’ll leave you to make up your own mind.


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