Movie #14: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

I love modern takes on old classics (especially dark classics) like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Since the audience is presumably acquainted with the original, there’s usually an interesting spin on the story. While it’s set in modern day rather than Victorian times, this modernization has Jekyll (played by Dougray Scott) as a medical doctor. Many elements are maintained: Jekyll’s experiments in separating the good in a person from the evil, resulting in the unleashing of his dark alter-ego, Edward Hyde. The names of the main character are preserved, and other names also allude to names from the original novella. However, this version adds a lawyer and a whole court case to try to exonerate Jekyll of Hyde’s crimes. The lawyer herself becomes a prominent character, but the ending is the opposite of the original. It’s unfortunate that this version is kind of a B-movie. With cheaper production values and a script that doesn’t really explore very deeply, I’m not really sure why this movie was produced. Scott was pretty chilling in some scenes, but his consistently downcast, mopey face (even as Jekyll) made his two personalities run together (there was also a tell-tale eye-flash whenever he changed to help us keep track). The courtroom stuff suffered from weak writing — most legal dramas on TV have better dialogue than this film. Overall, I would have had a better time re-reading the book; or maybe watching the UK mini-series (which takes a similarly modern slant but it’s much more evocative than this straight-to-DVD Canadian production). (3 out of 5)

14 down, 36 to go!

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