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Hannibal (DVD, 2007, 2-Disc Set, Collector's Edition; Steelbook)
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Cannibal Hannibal is a Grind House Film in Disguise
Feb 16, 2001
Review by ChrisJarmick
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Hopkins, Moore, Oldman and Giannini are all good.
Cons:So-so Script, overly gory, little new revealed about Clarice or Hannibal.
The Bottom Line: Disappointing sequel to Silence of the Lambs, lacks anything particularly new or noteworthy and seems to delight in being sick, grisly and gory. Well-made though!
Ridley Scott has delivered a superbly crafted, well acted, 42nd street grind house film. That is to say, Hannibal is a sick, twisted, gory film, but it's dolled up with everything money can buy and apparantly that includes an R... rather than NC17 rating.
Recommend this product?
For people who are really and truly into gore films this one won't gross them out -- but for most there's four or five very strong scenes with more than they would want to see explicitly shown–even a few close-ups of gaping wounds and pieces of skin being eaten by dogs. Yum yum. If you're more than a little squeamish you'll want to avoid this film. And because the budget is high, a lot of care has been taken to provide gore effects that are state of the art. No paint colored blood or obvious use of prosthetics and dummies.
Probably the most grisly special effect however doesn't involve gore.. but make-up all over a famous actors face. The camera loves this deformed face as if it were a Hollywood beauty queen's instead of a hideously scarred face. It belongs to an uncredited Gary Oldman. He plays a character named Mason Verger. Verger is an obscenely rich character who is the only victim of Hannibal's who has survived and he lives to track down and get revenge on Hannibal. He fantasizes about feeding Hannibal to Wild Boars who he has been training as if they were pit bulls. Verger was a child molester whom Hannibal drugged and suggested he slice off his own face and feed it to his dogs. He does and we watch in more detail than is required... though it's shot with fast cuts and edits.
FBI agent Clarice Starling (now played by Julianna Moore–who's wonderful) is a more cynical and hardened Clarice than the rookie we met in Silence of the Lambs. . Clarice is working on a major drug bust in Washington D.C. It goes terribly wrong because the D.C. police don't listen to her orders. Her immediate supervisor is Paul Krendall, a creep played by Ray Liotta ( whose main beef with Clarice is that she won't sleep with him), makes sure she takes a lot of heat for what went wrong. He enjoys overseeing her demotion to a desk job. The press has a field day with the botched drug bust and the fact Clarice has made it into the Guiness Book or World Records as the female FBI agent who's killed the most criminals. This gets Hannibal's attention.
Hannibal has been in hiding in Florence, Italy where he's become an art curator. He's been mostly behaving himself though he has apparently killed a colleague. An Italian police detective named Pazzi questions him and is intrigued with the quirky Hannibal. Pazzi (not patsy) is played well by Giancarlo Giannini whose sad eyes and world weary ways are used in entertaining if cliche'd fashion. Eventually he realizes the art curator is none other than Hannibal. Rather than inform the FBI Pazzi decides to let Mason Verger know he has found Hannibal and try to collect the 3 million dollar reward Verger has offered for the whereabouts of Hannibal.
Hannibal meanwhile has written Clarice a note, re-initiating their contact and setting the stage for them to meet again.
What's most disappointing about the film is we learn little that is new about Hannibal or Clarice. It's strictly a by-the-numbers sequel in many ways. Hannibal, here is a clever intelligent movie serial killer. He's playing a cat and mouse game with Verger, Pazzi and Clarice.
The film is well made with a script by David Mamet and Steven Zaillian, based on the novel by Thomas Harris (which was critically savaged and not well-liked by readers either). It's a film that's too grisly and sick for most to enjoy as a cat and mouse type thriller.
You may have heard there is a particularly grisly and long rather sadistic SCENE towards the end of the film which feels like something from a Dr Phibes or Theatre of Death Vinnie Price film. I felt the transition from this scene to the brief epilogue was a cheat which stretches believability way too thin. I was somewhat entertained by it, but disappointed with all the talent involved some additional character depth wasn't explored.
Hopkins' Hannibal feels like a James Bond type villain and the film is closer to Fincher's Seven with more tongue in cheek humor than to the original Silence of the Lambs. In fact the sometimes clever, sometimes cheesy humor of the film will make a lot of viewers feel guilty for enjoying what is essentially a grind house film dressed up in expensive clothing.
Some well constructed scenes do not hide the fact we are dealing with characters who are shadows of the one's we've seen before. The new characters are played with too much skill to be cartoonish, but they can't hide the fact they exist only to be cogs in the wheel in part two of the macabre Clarice and Hannibal dance.
Christopher J. Jarmick,is the author of The Glass Coccon with Serena F. Holder a steamy suspense thriller which is now available (glasscocoon@hotmail for details).
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