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Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde first editionFirst edition
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First publication

Literature form

Literary, science fiction, horror

Writing language

Author's country

Approx. 24,500 words

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde scene
Krista Bridges is a lawyer trying to save Jekyll (Dougray Scott) from prosecution in modern retelling.

The thoroughly modern monster

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2008): Film, 96–129 minutes; director Paolo Barzman; writer Paul B. Margolis; featuring Dougray Scott, Krista Bridges

It sounds like a good idea: update the Jekyll/Hyde story with modern science in a contemporary setting. One can imagine sci-fi twists on the horror story and more realistic special effects unavailable to older filmmakers.

But, released both in theattres and on television, 2008's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a dud.

Like most movie versions of the classic tale, it follows the good doctor and his evil twin from the beginning, but now he's an outright serial killer. No villainous charisma, no exploration of man's animal nature—just another midnight strangler picking on single women in Boston.

Dougray as Jekyll Dougray as HydeDougray Scott, an accomplished TV actor in his forties, does his best with it. His transformation into Hyde is achieved with a minimum of makeup.

Perhaps oddly, I kept thinking what a great James Bond the actor might have made—a handsome hero with a dark heart, not to mention a Sean Connery accent. (Yes, he's Scottish).

Partway through this film though, the plot takes a clichéd turn and becomes an episode of Law and Order.

Jekyll is caught by police and prosecuted, and his lawyer (Krista Bridges) tries a novel defence to get him off. You see, Jekyll and Hyde are different people in the same body and now Hyde has been expunged, leaving only the innocent Jekyll.

And then there's the supposedly big twist at the very end, that you can probably guess even if you haven't seen all the hints leading up to it.

The film is populated by other characters updated from the novel, such as a male friend (Tom Skerritt) and Jekyll's caretaker (Danette Mackay), who always seem about to play significant roles in the drama but never do. One suspects their crucial scenes—showing these characters exist at all—were edited out of the film.

It's TV all right. As cheap and predictable and shallow as anything else on the tube back then before television storytelling got good. We await a compelling, contemporary retelling of the timeless tale.

— Eric


CritiqueQuotesText • At the movies

1920, 1931, 1941, 1960, 1990, 1996, 2001, 2008