After reading Thomas Harris' novel, Red Dragon and seeing the new movie, I decided to check out Michael Mann's version. I wish I had saved the three dollars.
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If you've read my review on the new movie Red Dragon, you'll find that I love comparisons. I love to read a book, and then go see the movie based on that book and compare the two. If there's an earlier movie based on that book, I'll rent that and add that into the comparison. Which is what I did here. And began comparing the actors. And their characters who didn't seem to develop.
Brian Cox is a fine actor, I'll agree to that. He did a wonderful job as Mr. Morgan in The Ring. (Another fine movie, but I will wait until the fear wears off me before I review that one.) However, Hannibal "Lektor" he is not. And why did they change the spelling of his name in this movie when they didn't in the novel or the new movie?
Tom Noonan is another fine actor, but his Francis Dolarhyde didn't develop as fully as Ralph Fiennes' did. Had I not read the novel, I wouldn't have been able to tell you what made Francis the way he was. The novel devotes several chapters to his background. The new movie hints at his background, but doesn't spell everything out for you in black-and-white. In Manhunter, he's just there.
Same with William Peterson's portrayal of Will Graham. I think Peterson is doing wonderfully today in C.S.I. Had they developed Graham more, he would have done fine with him, also.
I expected a long movie. Well, at least I wasn't disappointed there. I expected the movie to follow along with the novel. Some of the script was word-for-word, but the movie tended to stretch some things out and simply skip others. For instance, we never know what happened to Graham when he apprehended Lector. The book hints at it, the new movie shows you within the first 15 minutes, but Manhunter avoids it. Why?
By now having read all three of Harris' novels, I expected to see gore. There was very little. The images of Mrs. Leeds with the mirrors in her eyes in this one wasn't quite as shocking as they were in Red Dragon.
However, I did notice a little something nifty. I noticed the name Frankie Faison in the credits in Manhunter, Red Dragon, and Silence of the Lambs. After doing a little point-and-click research, I found that Faison portrayed Lector's guard, Barney, in Silence. He portrayed Lector's guard in the other two movies, but was never named.