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Anthony Hopkins gave an impeccable performance. However, the material he
was given to work with was not as good as Silence of the Lambs. In
fairness, perhaps there was no way it could be. In SOTL, he was somehow
more foreboding, more of a sort of superhuman monster; in Hannibal, he's
more accessible, a guy you meet on the street. Maybe it was impossible to
maintain the mystery of Lecter that we saw in SOTL because of the risk of
doing a rehash. I'd give the overall Dr Lecter character a 9 of 10 in this
film, vs. a 10 of 10 in the last one. Not quite as good, but still very
Starling's character, on the other hand, fell flat in this film. In SOTL, Foster perfectly portrayed Starling's flat surface with a turbulent depth; in Hannibal, there was nothing under her surface. Foster's Clarice evoked feelings of sympathetic grief, Moore's Clarice evoked nothing. I do not necessarily blame Moore, this could be due to writing and/or directing. Obviously, though SOTL focused mainly on Starling's character, Hannibal focuses on, well, Hannibal. Still, that's no excuse for what was done to Starling. Her character gets a 3 of 10.
The story was much weaker in Hannibal than in SOTL. It almost seemed like an excuse to present us with the characters, rather than a story in and of itself. Still, it had no other major flaws, so it gets a 6 of 10.
Now, there's another category I'll call the shock factor. It's different than ordinary gore, it's... creative gore. The sick, disgusting depravity we expect to see and like to see in this type of film. I can't go into detail without spoiling it, but I'll have to say it goes even beyond what I expected. Do not watch this film if you are squeamish or dislike gore. There isn't a lot of gore in the film, but what there was, was... concentrated. Shock Factor, 10 of 10.
Overall I give the film an 8 of 10. Very well done with a few weaknesses, well worth watching.
Many people were disappointed or flat-out disgusted by Ridley Scott's
follow-up to "The Silence of the Lambs." I can certainly understand their
disgust, but I preferred this to its Oscar winning predecessor. It had been
a long, long time since a movie made me turn from the screen in genuine
horror, and I didn't believe it was even possible. "Hannibal"'s deservedly
controversial climax took me by surprise. It may have been revolting (okay,
it was very definitely revolting) but so few movies these days have any
lasting impact and I appreciate that this one did. And it is, after all,
about a cannibal, is it not? At some point in a series of films about a man
of Lector's inclinations, we should see him at work.
Of course, the horror of the climax is effective because the rest of the film is so good. Hopkins, a little chunkier than the last time we saw him in this role, positively exudes menace especially in his final confrontation with Pazzi (an excellent Giancarlo Giannini whose sad eyes make him the most sympathetic character in the film). Then there's Gary Oldman's Mason Verger who is so contemptible that he never elicits sympathy no matter how he suffered at the hands of Lector. And Julianne Moore is an improvement over Jodie Foster who I have always believed was overrated.
But the best thing about "Hannibal" is the atmosphere in which Scott and his team envelop the story. A cloud of dread hangs over this film, and beautiful Florence, Italy, though still beautiful, appears haunted by Lector's very presence in the city.
I like this film a lot, but of course it suffers - as all sequels do -
by comparison to its predecessor, in this case 'Silence of the Lambs'
The main reason for having a sequel at all was to showcase again the
character of Hannibal Lecter, a monstrous creation everyone wanted to
see more of after the first film. It could have bombed badly therefore
if writer and actor had let us down by failing to catch the magic
again. It was after all a decade after the original was made. But they
don't, and Anthony Hopkins turns in another delicious performance as
the man with the evil intent cloaked in inestimable, menacing charm.
Julianne Moore drew the short straw in having to re-create the Clarice Starling role that had been so memorably played by another actress. She does well in my opinion, but inevitably we keep thinking 'where is Jodie Foster?', and this lends her portrayal a lack of credibility which is entirely unfair. Gary Oldman's Mason Verger is suitably loathsome and manages to make Lecter seem almost like the hero in their battle of wits. If there is a weak link, Ray Liotta's Krendler seems a bit misplaced.
The direction deserves special mention. The lush, beautiful settings are mocked by the horror of what is happening in them and the perfectly-selected atmospheric music stayed in my mind long after the film had ended.
Once again, the film lacks realism, but as with the original, it doesn't matter. Of course things like this don't really happen - but so what? It's a film. Get over it! I was prompted after seeing it to read the books, and the right decision was made in changing the ending of this story from that written by Thomas Harris.
We were subsequently treated to another look at Lecter in a decent prequel movie, 'Red Dragon,' but I will not be alone in hoping that some day we will see yet more of him in a further instalment. Unlikely I suspect - but not impossible.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I have to go against popular opinion on this one. Most people hate this
film; I love it....well, 95 percent of it, anyway.
The shame of it is that most people only remember the last 10 minutes, a totally gruesome scene in which the top of a man's head is cut off and he's fed a morsel of his own brain. Of course, it's disgusting and I don't find it easy to watch, either.
However, the first two hours of the film offers a feast, if you'll pardon the pun, for the eyes and ears that is not revolting except for one other three-second shot. This is one of the most beautifully-filmed movies I've ever seen. Scene after scene is just jaw dropping and features some of the best shots, outside and inside, of Florence, Italy, you could ever imagine. Ridley Scott is known for his stylish direction and that is certainly the case here.
The dialog is fascinating, led by Anthony Hopkins' famous "Hannibal Lecter" character, whose vocabulary and intelligent sarcasm and baiting are clever and entertaining to hear. Unlike "Silence Of the Lambs," there is little verbal crudeness in this film, very little profanity at all. On the third viewing, I played this with the English subtitles on, so I could catch all the dialog.
This was a much lower-key film than it's famous predecessor, which probably disappointed a lot of people who prefer a lot more violence and f-words in their crime movies.
Although Jodie Foster performed well in the role of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, I preferred watching and listening to Julianne Moore play the part in this film. A "sleeper" here, too, was the great performance by Giancarlo Gianni, as the greedy Italian lawman, who winds up paying a huge price for his avarice.
Like "Godfather III," this is a very unjustly-criticized and overlooked third installment of a famous film trilogy.
I haven`t been affected this much by a movie in years, so that must be
considered good value for money. The controversial gore scene towards the
end made myself, and the majority of the audience, flinch, scream and
nervously giggle simultaneously (a feel good/feel bad movie rolled into
Having never read the original book I took the film at face value. It is beautifully filmed by a talented director and crew, and features lovely Italian location scenes which contrast with the grim plot. The acting is mainly excellent. Hopkins character appears creepier due to him beginning to resemble a kindly grandad, who suddenly turns and eats your brain. Julianne Moore`s excellent Clarice vaguely reminded me of Ripley, the star of Ridley Scotts masterpiece Alien. At worst, the rest of the cast were well above average.
The film had me captivated with its style, twisty plot, acting and gore. I found myself slightly rooting for the baddie Hannibal at some points, something I haven`t experienced since my empathy for evil Alex in A Clockwork Orange. If people find the deaths of some characters predictable, then maybe Scott has directed well in projecting Hannibal`s approach and morality.
This is the sort of big budget horror film movie-goers have been waiting for, so go see it on the large screen before its too late! Okay, it is not the same as Silence, so what? Ten years have passed and things have changed. I`ve heard the book is better. Well, I may now read it, but in the meantime I have enjoyed an excellent, thought provoking Film Of The Year!
Hannibal is a pure pleasure! While a little unevenly paced (the beginning
was a bit slow), David Mamet and Steve Zallian have done a good job of
telling the basic story Thomas Harris gave to us - and, incidently, the book
was incredibly underrated by critics whose thought processes seem to have
been damaged by too little quality literature. People have complained that
it took ten years for Harris to write it - well, read it! It is
chock-a-block full of mythology, astronomical and religious themes that
weave their way throughout. The threads never break. The movie would have
had to be eight hours long to even begin to explore the depths plumbed by
Harris in the book.
Anthony Hopkins is, as usual, brilliant! Julianne Moore was sexy and strong. Giancarlo Giannini was outstanding and Gary Oldman creditable. My only complaint with casting was Ray Liotta, who just didn't have "it".
Having seen this movie three times thus far, I will say that watching it is like peeling layers off an onion. You see more and more with each viewing - little treasures and nuggets that you find almost by accident. The first time I saw it, I left the theatre not really knowing what I thought of it. Then I found myself smiling. I did like it. When I went back again (and again!) I liked it more and more.
Gory? Not really - and I consider myself pretty sensitive to gore. I have seen far worse. The story does have violence in it, and I think Ridley Scott, while depicting an integral part of the story, handled the violence tastefully (if you'll pardon the expression).
Is it as good as Silence of the Lambs? No. It's DIFFERENT from SotL. In Silence we had a caged monster whose intensity was extremely focussed. Here, we have a monster who is on the loose in a great big world, free to indulge in his passions. Hannibal Lecter's essence has not changed. He's merely in a different situation.
My only disappointments were: The changed ending. This was the major one. I realize the critics lambasted Thomas Harris for the ending in the book, saying "Clarice would never have done that", but Clarice was the child of Harris' imagination. The author is god, and if god says a character will do something, who are we to second-guess?
The length of the movie. It could have been a little longer and more focus could have been put on the relationship between Hannibal and Clarice - specifically, his obsession with her, and the time they spent together after the fiasco at the Verger Estate.
It was also too bad that Mason Verger's sister, Margot, was written out of the script.
All in all, though, I thoroughly enjoyed the dark humor and the adventure. Hans Zimmer's score is magnificent! This is a really good film - not a great film, but a really good one. Don't go into it expecting to see another Silence of the Lambs. It's not - and I don't think anyone has ever tried to claim that it is. Expect to see a weird and wonderful love story and an adventure! (It's just too bad about that ending!)
HANNIBAL / (2001) *** (out of four)
By Blake French:
Some movies are born to inspire sequels but "The Silence of The Lambs" is a movie that does not need a sequel. The Academy Award winning thriller earned ubiquitous critical acclaim, therefore a continuation is nearly incapable of living up to its standards. To make things worse for the highly anticipated sequel "Hannibal," the original film's director and main star bailed out, leaving Ridley Scott ("Gladiator") and Julianne Moore ("Magnolia") filling their places in the credits. It is hard to imagine how this movie could possibly succeed. But the exceptionally beautiful filmmaking, strong performances, intriguing story, and moody atmosphere provoke more nail-biting moments than most thrillers these days.
The story of "Hannibal" does not compare with "The Silence of the Lambs." It replaces tension-filled sequences of psychological terror with scenes featuring some of the most grotesque images and realistic gore to ever make its mark on the big screen. This film relies heavily on the shock factor of such extreme graphic violence, although such content is never excessive or relentless. It has perfect timing. The sheer presence of Anthony Hopkins, in another horrific and career defining performance, often creates enough terror for several movies. "Hannibal" knows that and frequently gives the character more freedom than he had in he first film. But I am not so sure that is a good thing; is it more terrifying listening to Hannibal Lecter discuss his disgusting actions or to actually see him perform such disturbing behaviors?
The film takes place ten years after FBI agent Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster then, Julianne Moore now) interviewed convicted mass murdering cannibal Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) while searching for another disturbed killer. Present day: Clarice is involved with a drug bust shoot-out that leaves many dead. Justice Dept. Official Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta), is about to punish her when she gets a call from a the unrecognizably deformed surviving victim of an attack by Lecter. His name is Mason Verge (Gary Oldman), a wealthy recluse who asks that Starling be placed back on the case of the Cannibal, who has been on the loose for ten years.
The movie investigates a lot more than Clarice's experiences with Hannibal Lecter. The script actually consists of two separate stories, one detailing the revenge scheme of Mason, whom is still angry with Lecter after he caused the removal of his face and partial paralysis. The other takes place in Italy, where an inspector named Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) is out to claim a multimillion dollar reward for providing authorities with proper evidence leading to the arrest of a local, who turns out to be none other than Lecter himself. Obviously this man does not know what he is in for, and ends up losing his cuts for the money literally.
Parallel stories are always interesting, but are easily sidetracked with certain characters and or events. What keeps this movie intriguing is the consistent focus on Lector; everything in the story seems to revolve around him. Then again, "Hannibal" is also quite pointless because it solves nothing. Without giving away the ending, I will say that we are once again left pondering about Lecter. Most any movie that provokes thoughts is worth seeing, but "Hannibal" forgets the first film, takes a stand on its own, and once again sets us up for another unnecessary follow-up.
The most apparent conflict many audiences with have with "Hannibal" is the absence of Jodie Foster. Julianne Moore is most definitely a capable and challenging actress, and plays the role of Starling with exuberance and clarity. But Foster is simply better in the role and we miss her dearly. Anthony Hopkins saves the movie; the actor is so intense and grisly in his subtle and classy manner, he once again qualifies as an award nominee. Thank goodness he returned for the role; without Hopkins, "Hannibal" would be nothing but underdone carnage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
*Hannibal SPOILERS* Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) is back... for a
travesty of a movie! Now he's in Italy, appreciating our food
(including people, such as Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini)), but
comes back to the States for Clarice (Julianne Moore) and to even the
score with a former victim, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman).
Let me tell you, this movie does not deserve to be spoken of along with Silence Of The Lambs and Manhunter, because it's truly, completely, absolutely, totally BAD.
I mean, the scene near the end with Ray Liotta's cranium being opened and him forced to eat part of his brain sautéed? WTF? Then, why the HELL was everybody so annoying (including Clarice)? And why did the story keep going nowhere? I suppose that this is the 'teen' chapter of the Hannibal series; terrible, stupid, gory for gore's sake and totally embarrassing.
Don't watch it, especially if you love any other of the Hannibal movies (SOTL, Manhunter, Red Dragon, Hannibal Rising).
I never remember once even thinking about laughing as I watched Silence of the Lambs. I giggled a lot at Hannibal. In short, the movie lacked focus, showed us too much of Lecter, and had no suspense what so ever. I could not have cared less. I have heard the book was pretty bad too.
Wistful thinking is fun. So if I ran my own studio and this was brought
to me, forget that it's a sequel to a lucrative property, so carries
expectations, I would have the whole writing team fired and off the lot
by lunch. I would especially have Mamet fired, because he's not a dumb
guy. Actually, the problem is they have to work from a terrible novel
by a hack author, so everyone including Ridley and the actors seem
jaded by the choices they have to make.
"But, hey it's a movie about a guy who chews off victims' faces, quit being a dunce". Not quite, my friends.
These films are about twin worlds, the cop world of reason and the killer's world of urges, hidden self and powerful intuition. Clarice straddles both, is damaged herself, that is the main thrust, so is able to solve the case in a way that both unfolds and redeems her darkness. The guy eating liver with a nice Chianti doesn't have to be the center.
Manhunter exemplified this can be done as evocative introspection; our anchor was in the second world, and it was spending time in this world that deepened our perspective for humanity and reason (and also conveyed the protagonist's soul, since the actor couldn't). The urge was for a normal touch that stirs deep.
Silence placed the anchor in the first and turned the second into a lurid caricature that verged on camp and b-horror. Because the film was not rooted in the world of images and intuition, it had to rely on Foster having good dramatic presence. She did it just barely, but the film was much less cinematic. Her urge was powerful but never conveyed with the camera. The killer's was about 'transformation' but squarely rooted in the sexual. He was reduced from the center of a rich world in Manhunter to a human camera ().
So here comes Ridley in the third installment. The poor guy is working by far from the worst script, even worse he's building on Demme's template instead of Mann's - had to by that point, the novel after all was written with Demme and Foster in mind.
The whole thing is lurid and cheap this go round. The urges are all base outside Lecter (sex - money - power - revenge). You will know it by how sloppy is the scene of Mason Verger's hallucinated memory (and really everything about this man).
So three sinners, all three righteously punished in increasingly hellish ways and Lecter has turned into a melancholy avenging angel slash fatherly mentor figure slash aged but suave lover. He's everything stereotypical about having a cultured taste. He's filmed around Florence to have lots of attractive scenery counterpointing the vileness, another lazy effect.
The Christ symbolism is just the tackiest thing. They might have had something with Lecter as Dante's Satan gnawing at the three traitors, but the portrayal doesn't match, and besides, Inferno is naturally the most crude portion of the text. There's nothing worthwhile to build from it anyway.
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