Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde DVD Review
Written by Steve Pattee
DVD released by Redfield Arts
Directed by Mark Redfield
Written by Mark Redfield and Stuart Voytilla based on a novella by Robert Louis Stevenson
2002, 110 minutes, Not rated
Mark Redfield as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
Elena Torrez as Claire Caine
Kosha Engler as Miriam Carew
Carl Randolph as Gabriel Utterson
R. Scott Thompson as Mordecai Carew
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde has a great opening.
In a deserted alley in London, a gentleman tells a solicitor, Gabriel Utterson, a tale of a mysterious man who knocked a poor girl down while in a hurry to get where he was going.
The incident prompted onlookers of the tragic event to demand monetary compensation for the girl and her family, which the man begrudgingly paid — part in cash, part in a check drawn on the solicitor’s friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll’s, account.
However, the man was not Jekyll, he was a Mr. Edward Hyde, Dr. Jekyll’s mysterious acquaintance.
Dr. Jekyll, a compassionate doctor and scientist on a quest to bring out the good of man, is the polar opposite of this Mr. Hyde. So why would he keep such company? His good friend and solicitor, Utterson, makes it a point to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Co-writer/director/co-producer/actor/all-around Renaissance man Mark Redfield rehashes the classic "Jekyll and Hyde" tale by telling it from the perspective of Jekyll’s lawyer. It’s a novel approach because, let’s face it, we all know the basic story. What Redfield manages to do is tweak it enough to make it fresh, while at the same time not straying far from the original story. Like putting flames on a ’69 Camaro, it’s still the same car, but now it has a slightly different look.
Based on Redfield’s stage play, the film has the look of, well, a stage play. The sets are barren, the walls lacking pictures, the houses missing that homey feeling of warmth. But it works. It gives you the feeling you are watching a performance from the 18- or 1900s.
The performances in Hyde are damn good, considering it is a low-budget production. Redfield, who doubles as both Jekyll and Hyde, is a natural for this type of role. He has the look of an Englishman during the 1900s, and he does a more-than-convincing job of separating the characters of Jekyll and Hyde — not just through make-up, but with voice changes and mannerisms as well. Considering everything he was responsible for during the production of this film, Redfield does an outstanding job playing both sides of the same coin.
Carl Randolph, as Gabriel Utterson, is believable as the good friend trying to determine who, exactly, this Hyde character is — and why Jekyll is involved with him. His mounting frustration is well-played, and you really feel for his character. An all-around great performance.
Kosha Engler, who plays Jekyll’s fiancée Miriam, and R. Scott Thompson, who plays Miriam’s brother, Mordecai, are very convincing as siblings who have completely different ideas on who Miriam should spend her future with. Thompson is terrific portraying his disdain for Miriam’s choice of a future husband and Engler is just as good containing her frustration toward her brother. She is, after all, a woman of the 1900s, so she must not speak out against the men of the house.
Elena Torrez plays Claire Caine, Hyde’s prostitute girlfriend. She does a fantastic job making the viewer feel compassion for the woman who tries to be strong, but the situation she is in is far too much for her to get out of on her own. The only unbelievable thing is Torrez is entirely too attractive to be a woman of the night, but this is no fault of hers.
A well-rounded cast of supporting characters left no room for wooden acting. This was a pleasant surprise, as a low-budget movie usually has at least one dreadful actor.
Hyde’s special effects are more than adequate. It is apparent the filmmakers knew their limitations and didn’t exceed them. Jekyll’s transformation to Hyde is not outlandish, but subtle, and it works. The makeup for Hyde, combined with Redfield’s performance, make the transformation a believable one. In addition, some of the movie is filmed on a blue screen, so a city could be added later. This worked well, as it gave the film a surreal look. It would have worked better if it weren’t for the video quality.
Which is abysmal.
Video and Audio:
Filmed on video and presented in widescreen format, the movie is really hurt by its picture quality. The colors are muted and the picture is soft, but it is the grain that really hurts. Considering most of the movie has a dark setting, the amount of grain almost makes it unwatchable.
Giving the movie the benefit of the doubt, I threw it into the DVD player attached to my Sony Trinitron — hoping the smaller tube TV would offer a crisper look — but that only made the picture marginally better, particularly the interior shots.
Nalin Taneja’s score complements Hyde well. Played with little break throughout the movie, the score adds to the experience. The dialogue is clear and is never overtaken by either music or sound effects.
Mark Redfield provides a commentary that puts many, many others to shame. Informative and enjoyable, the track supplies a lot of information. And if the movie were twice as long, he could fill that too, without becoming boring. It’s a shame he didn’t record two commentaries (one as the producer, one as the director/actor) as he has so much to say, but not enough time to cover everything he wants.
The “Making of” featurette is more of a “congratulate everyone involved” than a “behind the scenes.” It does provide a little more detail on the filming of the movie than your average HBO-type fluff piece, but it is still that — a fluff piece. Worth at least one watch, but you won’t go back to it.
Also included are a couple of deleted scenes with an introduction for each from Redfield, explaining why they were not used.
|Movie:||– The movie could have been three stars, but, unfortunately, the poor video distracts from the wonderful story and terrific performances.|
|Video:||– It’s a shame the movie suffers because of the video.|
|Audio:||– No pops or hisses and a great score.|
|Features:||– A fantastic commentary, but the follow through on the “Making of” was quite a letdown.|
|Overall:||– With a $6.99 MSRP, even considering the video quality, this is well worth the purchase.|
The first period piece from Redfield Arts, Hyde is an impressive start. Granted, the video does hurt the film, but the performances and the story show what Redfield and company are capable of. I eagerly look forward to their next project, as this is a company to watch.
(Reviewed on a Sony 27" WEGA with a Sony DVP-CX850D DVD player and Sony STR-K750P HTS.)