Hannibal (DVD, 2007, 2-Disc Set, Collector's Edition; Steelbook) Reviews
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Hannibal (DVD, 2007, 2-Disc Set, Collector's Edition; Steelbook)

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A Second Serving of Hannibal the Cannibal

Feb 8, 2001 (Updated Feb 9, 2001)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Anthony Hopkins is deliciously evil as Hannibal Lecter, and the supporting actors are solid

Cons:The gore is over the top, TOO over the top for some

The Bottom Line: Won't win any Oscars, but strong performances and over the top chills make for a good movie, nonetheless. Warning - enough gore to please Mike_Bracken.

Hannibal the Cannibal will devour the competition in the box office this weekend. Anthony Hopkins reprises the role that won him a Best Actor in Silence of the Lambs, and he does an excellent job with it. He clearly enjoys the character, and that's a good thing, as the titular character has a heavy burden to bear here.

Silence of the Lambs, of course, swept the Big Five on Oscar night. Undoubtedly, the pressure of trying to follow-up that achievement resulted in the extraordinary long delay in the delivery of the sequel by author Thomas Harris. Hannibal is not going to win even one Oscar, so by that standard, it pales in comparison to the original. However, its strong performances and over the top chills make for a good movie, nonetheless.

It's been 10 years, both in real life and in the movie, since Silence of the Lambs, and our dear Dr. Lector has taken up residence in Florence, Italy. The other players are FBI Agent Clarice Starling, now played by Julianne Moore, and Mason Verger, the only surviving victim of Hannibal Lecter, played by Gary Oldman. "Surviving" is a loose term, as the good doctor left Verger horribly disfigured. I didn't realize it was Oldman until the closing credits, the scars are that thick and the make-up job that good. Starling, her career suffering from a recent blemish, wants to find Lecter to bring him to justice. Verger has a less honorable plan for Lecter involving 270 kilogram wild boars.

The wild boars give you the flavor of this movie - almost campy, if the production wasn't so well-done. I'd tell you more about the plot, but there isn't much more. This movie survives on Hopkin's compelling screen presence as Lecter, and to a lesser degree, to Oldman's equally creepy performance as the vengeful Verger.

Of course, everyone wants to know about Julianne Moore, who to her credit, undertook the daunting task of replacing Jodie Foster, who bowed out. Moore is an excellent actress, and her performance can only be faulted by comparison to Foster in Lambs. To be fair, Moore doesn't get the same kind of face-to-face meetings between Starling and Lecter that were so captivating in the first film, with the "quid pro quo" between the two.

The difference here is that Foster's Starling was brave, but terrified at the same time. She didn't flinch from her pursuit of the serial killer, but she possessed a very human vulnerability at the same time. Moore's Starling, on the other hand, is almost Ripley-esque in her fearlessness in confronting drug dealers in an opening scene shoot-out, and in going toe-to-toe with Lector later. It's not surprising, considering Ridley Scott of Alien, Thelma and Louise, and G.I. Jane is the director here rather than Jonathon Demme, but I find Foster's performance the better, nonetheless.

Before I pound the movie into the ground any further, let me say, I did enjoy it. The acting is good all around, with Hopkins enjoying every moment of portraying the evil incarnate that is Lecter. The scenes in Italy have a dark, old-world look to them that fits in perfectly with Hannibal's persona. The directing is every bit as good as any other Ridley Scott tour de force. If it wasn't suffering the inevitable comparison to Lambs, this review would no doubt sound much more positive.

A final word about the gore - there's enough, I believe, to make our own horror flick guru, Michael Bracken, happy. I found myself looking away at times, although I don't possess the iron stomach of Senor Bracken. Just looking at Oldman's disfigured Verger is hard to do, and some scenes are downright disgusting.

That is ultimately the difference between Hannibal and its predecessor. Silence relied upon a plotline that built up nail-biting suspense with the interaction between its characters, the hunt for serial killer, Lecter's escape, and climatic confrontation between Starling and Buffalo Bill. For myself, at least, the suspense in Hannibal was created by the thoughts of "How revolting is the next gory scene going to be, and will I be able to bear to watch it?"

Recommend this product? Yes

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