Director: Ridley Scott
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman
Duration: 131 minutes
It's been ten years since Dr. Hannibal Lecter terrorized audiences in The Silence of the Lambs. Now the cannibalistic madman with the super-intellect is out of his cage and living the quiet life in Italy. Is Hannibal, the highly anticipated follow-up to the now classic 1991 psychological thriller, as good as its predecessor? Probably not. But in the absence of unrealistically high expectations, Hannibal manages to be an entertaining film in its own right.
It is perhaps more fitting to call Hannibal the epilogue to The Silence of the Lambs rather than the sequel. The two movies are cast in significantly different moulds, with the former being less about mindgames and more about consequences. We find out what happened to Hannibal Lecter after he escaped, and we find out that Clarice Starling's career has taken a dismal turn since then.
This epilogue approach provides a mixed bag. On the plus side, we get to see Hannibal integrate into society. He's living in Florence, sipping wine, taking in the occasional play, and lecturing audiences on history under an assumed name. This gives the film a great wolf-in-sheep's-clothing tension, as you are constantly wondering when and if this devious psychopath will snap and start eating people's faces again. On the minus side, however, this makes the movie less menacing, a bit slower, and not as engaging. In true afterward form, this story takes place after the true climax: Lecter's mindgames with Starling and his subsequent escape.
The true action of Hannibal is set into motion when two separate forces attempt to track him down: an Italian police officer named Pazzi and a rich businessman Mason Verger. Pazzi wants to turn Hannibal in to the FBI and collect the $3 million reward. Meanwhile, Verger wants simple revenge, as a past experience with Hannibal left his face horribly disfigured. He has since obsessed over the psychopath and dreams of feeding him to man-eating hogs.
As a result Hannibal becomes the victim. The hunter becomes the prey, and in the process, Hannibal is humanized into a character we have begin to draw an empathy for. That's not a good thing for someone who is supposed to be the villain. What's worse, he actually becomes downright heroic at one point when he rescues Clarice in a deadly situation. Also knocking the movie's atmosphere off-kilter is Ray Liotta's character. As a sleazy spokesperson for the Justice Department, he adds too much humour to the "dinner scene," a moment that should be exclusively twisted and repulsive.
The first face-to-face meeting between Starling and Lecter doesn't work either. This is a particularly wasted scene, not nearly as dramatic as they mislead you to believe in the hype over the release of the DVD. Instead of a suffocating moment in which we are painfully aware of the absence of the glass wall between the two characters, we get all the tension of a "Hey, what's up, ol' buddy?" greeting. What does work, however, is the scene in which they carry out their first phone conversation. Boosted by the fact that Hannibal is in the middle of killing someone, the moment has the feel of an unholy reunion.
Credit should be given to Julianne Moore, who does an acceptable job in replacing Jodie Foster in the role of Clarice Starling. Moore, putting on a slight southern drawl, is good as the intrepid FBI agent - so good that Foster's absence is never noticeable.
Gary Oldman, barely recognizable in gruesome flashbacks, is also a strong presence as Mason Verger, the disfigured handiwork of a knife. And of course, Anthony Hopkins is right at home as his most memorable screen persona, the evil Hannibal Lecter. Although many of his actions and comments have turned into self-parody thanks to his legendary status in pop culture, Hannibal remains an interesting character, well worth a re-visit. And thanks to his wicked history, you always think he is going to bite a chunk out of someone the moment the camera tightens up on him and another character.
Overall, the DVD of Hannibal doesn't get under the skin in the same way as does its predecessor Silence of the Lambs. But with a few twisted and suspenseful scenes, it manages to provide a satisfying evening's entertainment.
Never before seen alternate ending, deleted scenes, alternate scenes, feature length commentary By Director Ridley Scott, Breaking The Silence 5 unique Making Of Featurettes, special effects footage, Featurette The Art Of Storyboarding with Ridley Scott, exclusive Director interview, Anatomy Of A Shoot Out A Breakdown Of The Fish Market action scene, exploration of the films opening title design, trailers, TV spots, rare production stills, unused poster concepts
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