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Only having seen "Manhunter" once, years ago, and not
remembering much about it, I won't attempt to compare that film to
it's remake, "Red Dragon". I've also never read any of the Thomas
Harris novels that they are based on, so I won't compare them to
the books either. But I will compare it to the other, more recent
films in the Hannibal Lecter series, "Silence of the Lambs" and
I think most would agree that, "Silence..." is a classic. It's one of those movies where everything came together beautifully. The director, the actors, the story, etc. It's to serial killer, suspense films as "The Godfather" is to mafia movies. I feel the only other movie of it's type to have even come close after "Silence of the Lambs"' release was "Se7en" with Morgan Freeman & Brad Pitt. So, it was with a lot of disappointment that I left the theater after seeing the long awaited sequel to "SOTL", "Hannibal". Jodie Foster didn't return to play the part of Clarice Starling, Jonathon Demme didn't direct, and worst of all, Sir Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter was almost cartoonish. On top of that, the film was just "ugly". It felt nastier and dirtier than it's predecessor. More concerned with gore and blood than telling a decent story.
Well, I'm happy to report that "Red Dragon" has put the series back on track. This time around, Hopkins plays Hannibal, more as we first remember seeing him in "SOTL". meaning more subtlety and slyness and less of the scenery chewing and over-acting that went on in "Hannibal". Edward Norton is just fine as FBI agent, Will Graham, who puts Lecter behind bars and then comes out of retirement to help solve the case of "The Tooth Fairy". Ralph Fiennes gives a very creepy and effective performance as Francis Dolarhyde, so good is he IMHO, that I expect him to get an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor next year. It helps that his character is more fleshed out, pardon the pun, than Ted Levine's serial killer in "SOTL".
The director, Brett Ratner, has done a fine job of ending, (hopefully), this series on a high note. I say, hopefully, because as much as I enjoyed "SOTL" and now, "Red Dragon", one more trip to this well, will probably produce nothing but mud.
The only thing that stands in the way of higher praise on my part, is that it's a sequel, er prequel, to a well loved and admired film. We've seen some of these characters and situations before. The meetings between Graham and Lecter are good, but they don't enthrall me the way they did between Starling and Lecter. All in all, a fine job on everyone's part. It may not be as groundbreaking as the original "SOTL", but it has helped to wash away the "bad taste", sorry, left behind by "Hannibal".
This is a very good "remake" of Manhunter" which was the first Hannibal
Lecter movie but didn't get the press the others did because it didn't
have Anthony Hopkins as the famous criminal. After "Silence of the
Lambs" became so popular, and the sequel, "Hannibal," it was decided to
re-do that first film and this time obtain Hopkins' services.
It worked because not only do you have the incomparable Hopkins at Dr. Lecter but you have one this generations best actors, Edward Norton, as the leading character "Will Graham." Norton, as always, gives a solid performance. And - look at the backup cast: Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Harvey Keitel, Mary Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Not bad.
This is one of those movies that gets better and better with each viewing. On my first look, I was disappointed Hopkins didn't have a bigger role but, after I knew what to expect, subsequent viewings made me appreciate the film's effort as a whole, and it's an underrated flick and a fine addition to the "Lecter" series.
The movie going public is obviously well acquainted with the most famous
serial killer, cannibal, in cinematic history, Hannibal Lecter. In 2002's
'RED DRAGON,' Hannibal is back with force and vengeance, thanks to the
brilliant portrayal of Sir Anthony Hopkins and inspired writing of
screenwriter Ted Tally. He's got some of the best lines in the business.
'RED DRAGON,' for the most part is a remake of Michael Mann's 1986
'Manhunter.' Obviously there isn't a lot of variation between the two
they are both adaptations of Thomas Harris' book 'RED DRAGON.' But that
were the simularity ends. Sure, some scenes are structed the same, but to
be fair this latest installment is closer and more true to the novel. For
those that read the book or saw 'Manhunter,' it's no surprise that
had a rather small role. Ted Tally took some license and beefed up the
character for some crucial scenes, adding a very interesting and inventive
twist. From the onset, we see the capture of Hannibal by FBI Agent Will
Graham, played flawlessly this time around by Edward Norton. We are also
privy to a rather more intense Lecter, anger and resentment for being
and put away. Hopkins doesn't need to do much to convey his distaste for
Graham, the true talent of an excellent actor. Lecter is not over the top
as many say he was in the third film 'HANNIBAL.' But this is really not a
Lecter story. It is focused more on Graham and the new killer on the
Francis Dolarhyde (played to an eeriely perfection by Ralph Fiennes). One
not of advisement, if 'The Silence Of The Lambs', or 'Hannibal,' gave you
nightmares, you may not be prepared for 'Dragon.' It is absolutely brutal
in it's visuals and psychological mind games. Dolarhyde, aka the 'Tooth
Fairy' is a brutal serial killer who has killed two families and may be on
the hunt for a third. It is this that brings Jack Crawford (Harvey
on the quest to seek out a retired Graham. Reluctantly, Graham decides to
help with the investigation. Graham does possess a certain gift, he can
think like the killer. But it does cause a dilemma. The one person that
could really give our detective the insight he needs is the one man who
tried to kill him, Lector. As Clarice in 'Silence' Graham must once again
delve into Lecter's world of the asylum. Frederick Chilton is back as the
head of the asylum, again played by Anthony Heald
(the 'old friend for dinner' guy). Heald is an absolute delight in a
awkward sort of way. He's definetly a one off. Basically, he's not
as smart as he thinks he is. Possibly the most disturbing character of
film is played by Fiennes. He is essentially a sympathetic killer, and
you really want to see this guy go down. Fiennes is stunning in this role
and adds his own spark to the role. Emily Watson plays Fiennes uninformed
love interest who happens to be blind, lucky for her. Philip Seymour
Hoffman is the sleazy tabloid reporter who in time is destined to get his
comupance. It is really unfortunate that the Academy Awards does not hand
out status to ensemble casts. If they did, 'RED DRAGON,' would probably
the only nomination in the catagory. There hasn't been a cast like this
many years. There is an equal balance between the three main characters,
Lecter, Graham, and Dolarhyde. Lecter was in it just enough to keep it
constantly fresh and on edge. Dolarhyde takes it over the edge and Graham
brings it subtly back. Brett Ratner as the director did an excellent job
setting the scenes, the creepy atmosphere, and letting the actors do what
they do best. This film is a winner all the way around. If any thriller
were put up against 'Silence,' this may be the one that could surpass it
regards to thrills, chills and just plain excellent storytelling. Though
the 4 movies are destined to be lumped together, 'Manhunter,' 'The Silence
Of The Lambs,' 'Hannibal,' and now 'The Red Dragon,' which is completely
understandable, 'Dragon' stands on it's own. And does so extremely well.
This movie is obviously not for everyone. There is graphic violence that
disturbing. Yet in this vehicle it is not overplayed as say, your average
slasher movie. If you're going to plunk down your hard earned cash for a
movie, 'Red Dragon,' is the one. It is a good solid interesting movie
never lets go. Once it's got you, it's got you. And that ride starts as
the lights in the theater go down. There's not too many movies that can
This was a fantastic film, but it slipped under many people's radar for
1) The critics said (and rightly so) that it is not as good as the Silence of the Lambs. However, I find it difficult to compare the films, largely because Will Graham (Norton) is completely different to Clarice Starling (Foster). The different dimension they bring to the investigation is enough, by itself, to distinguish them beyond comparison.
2) This was the third film in the series. The problem with the Hollywood pumping out an absurd number of sequels and prequels (even when the original film was terrible to begin with) is that it alters the public's attitude towards them. People are usually happy to see the "part 2" but beyond that, you're usually down to loyalists. In fact, this situation has been made worse due to the fact that many of the sequels made are shockingly bad (eg, the American Pie sequels, the Highlander sequels). Some are so terrible that they can actually tarnish the memory of the original (eg... Matrix Revolutions). So a third Hannibal film was always going to be an uphill battle.
3) This followed an awful sequel: Hannibal. People who thought Hannibal was terrible (and there's no shortage of them) are likely to turn their nose up at any further sequels or prequels. That's what Hollywood always overlooks - once you pump out one bad sequel (eg, Ocean's Twelve 2004), fewer people will even consider seeing the next sequel, unless it receives almost unanimous critical acclaim.
I did not like Hannibal either and I think that many stars in Hollywood would have turned it down after reading the script. Jodie Foster, with the offer of reprising her academy awarding winning role, and Jon Demme (director of Silence of the lambs) walked away from the Hannibal after disagreements with author (Harris) over the character directions. Hopkins nearly left when Foster and Demme walked, but was persuaded to stay (probably with a nice salary increase!). In any case, key elements were gone and in my view, they ultimately failed to attract a strong supporting cast.
By contrast, I think many actors would have been falling over themselves to land one of the roles in Red Dragon after reading the script. Accordingly, we ended up with Hopkins (reprising his academy award winning role to absolute perfection), Norton (who is the rightful winner of the academy award for American History X in my view, even though the academy went to someone else that year), Harvey Keitel, Ralph Finnes and the brilliant, but under-rated, Phillip Seymore Hoffman. They combine to breath tremendous life into this investigative/thriller. And the opening 5 minutes is magnificent.
However, I have two criticisms that cost it a star. First, it wasn't quite dark enough. Perhaps that masterpiece, the Silence of the Lambs, used up all the visceral attributes that were so pathetically contrived in Hannibal and present, but not powerfully present, in Red Dragon. There certainly was a dark edge, but it just didn't get under my skin the way Silence of the Lambs did (if you'll forgive the pun).
Second, I felt that there were a few off-shoots to the main plot that could have been worked around or seemed to play no real role in the film whatsoever. For example, the tense relationship between Norton and the reporter (Hoffman), Finnes taking the blind girl to listen to the sedated tiger (or lion or whatever it was), Norton teaching his wife to shoot ... and many others. Most of the time, I felt that they should have been left on the cutting room floor as they were of little interest, had little (if any) role in the context of the story and accordingly, unnecessarily bulked out the running time of the film.
Otherwise, terrific viewing. Don't be dissuaded by Hannibal - this sequel achieves where that one so dismally failed.
On paper, it looked a bit uncertain. The long-awaited prequel to 'The
Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal' was to be directed by Brett
Ratner, most famous for the two 'Rush Hour' movies (1998, 2001).
However, the final result is pleasantly surprising. 'Red Dragon' opens with a wonderfully suspenseful prologue detailing the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter's (Anthony Hopkins) capture, and the unbearable tension rarely lets up for the remainder of the film.
Lecter's capturer, Will Graham (Edward Norton), is coaxed out of retirement by Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) to help track down a ruthless serial killer nicknamed the Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes), who is murdering seemingly-random families in their sleep. Graham believes that Lecter may hold the key to capturing this killer, and, in order to prevent any further murders, he must revisit his old demons.
The acting performances are first-rate. Hopkins is good (as always) as the cold, calculating serial killer Lecter. Norton handles a demanding role exceedingly well. Throughout his career, Fiennes has excelled at portraying loathsome villains (i.e. Amon Goeth in 'Schindler's List,' 1993), and here he turns in perhaps his greatest performance. The facially-disfigured, mentally-unstable Francis Dolarhyde is shown not to be an inherently evil killing machine, but an emotionally-troubled young man who is still battling the overwhelming demons of an abusive childhood.
Strong supporting performances from Emily Watson ('The Proposition,' 2005), Harvey Keitel ('Pulp Fiction,' 1994) and Philip Seymour Hoffman ('Capote,' 2005) round off a terrific thriller, and one for which widespread recognition is long overdue.
Red Dragon takes place just before the events of The Silence of the
Lambs. In this movie, a deranged serial killer is killing entire
families every month on the night of the full moon. Jack Crawford of
the FBI calls in retired agent Will Graham to help catch the killer.
Graham left the FBI after being critically wounded while capturing the
cannibalistic Hannibal Lecter. Now, Graham must interview Hannibal, to
see if he can shed any knowledge on the case. Meanwhile, the killer
struggles with himself when he begins to fall in love with a fellow
employee. This movie is closer to Silence of the Lambs than Hannibal in
quality and style, and therefore is more entertaining.
This movie is basically a reworking of the film Manhunter, except with Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal, so it connects better with the others. This movie sticks closer to the book than Manhunter did, which will please fans, except that it ads way more Hannibal Lecter interview scenes than were in the book, most likely to bank on Anthony Hopkins' name. The movie has the same suspenseful style as Silence of the Lambs, making up for the fact that Hannibal hardly had any suspense at all. The dialogue and overall fast paced style of the movie made it really worth watching, and if this movie had been released a year before Silence rather than a year after Hannibal, they would be great together. The characters are great and engaging. They seem more realistic than they were in Manhunter. I'm glad this movie managed to be far more successful than Manhunter, because I don't think I could deal with two bad Red Dragon adaptations.
The acting is superb. I was kind of annoyed with Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal, because he played the role way too differently than the way he played it in Silence. Now, in this movie, he gets back to basics. Edward Norton is great as Will Graham. The role of the Red Dragon/Francis Dolarhyde was made for Ralph Fiennes. He takes the role and makes it his own. Whenever I think Ralph Fiennes now, I think Red Dragon.
Overall, this is an awesome psychological thriller, and any fan of Silence of the Lambs should definitely see this movie.
Having seen the disappointing Hannibal, I was a bit reticent about seeing
this. The original Manhunter film was simply on the edge and excellent, and
another prequel could have gone either way.
Prequels are the fashion of the moment aren't they?
This was actually very good, and most enjoyable. Fiennes and Norton added much to the story, and were both absolutely excellent.
Hopkins gave the performance you'd have expected from him in his role, and this was also notable for a fine performance as Fiennes' blind girlfriend of the bird that appeared in the ever-so-nauseating and vomit enducing Angela's Ashes [which gave a whole new meaning to stereotypical grim films].
Don't be put off by Hannibal, definitely see this one.
But it was pretty damn close. "Red Dragon" was a great movie to watch.
I have to admit that I had my doubts. I heard some bad things about
this movie from my friends. I had bought the movie for my mom, and she
said just to give it a shot. I'm glad I did. "Red Dragon" goes back
into the roots that "Silence of the Lambs" did. It had high action and
drama. I was very impressed. And Anthony Hopkins does a great job as
his most famous role as Hannibal Lector. I really have to say that I
didn't stick to my friend's opinions. This was a great movie. I would
recommend for the "Silence of the Lambs" fans.
After the return of the infamous Hannibal Lecter to our screens in 2001
with Ridley Scott's film version of the best novel in Thomas Harris's
Lecter trilogy, it's not surprising that a new version of the first
novel in the series got an update a year later considering that it's
previous screen version, Michael Mann's Manhunter, doesn't fit in with
the other two films in the series. I do have to say that this version
is both more true to Harris' novel and an overall better film than
Manhunter; though it does have numerous shortfalls and has nothing on
the masterpiece 'Silence of the Lambs'. The plot is quite similar to
the one in Silence of the Lambs, and features a cop on the hunt of a
serial killer and receiving help from the incarcerated Hannibal Lecter.
FBI Agent Will Graham, the captor of Hannibal Lecter, is called out of
retirement to help catch a serial killer dubbed "The Tooth Fairy" by
the media. The killer has already slaughtered two families and the FBI
believes that another one is soon to join them; meaning that Will
Graham has no choice but to ask Hannibal Lecter for help with the case.
The casting is one of the things that many critics pick up on, and that's not surprising. Anthony Hopkins effortlessly slips back into the role that he will always be associated with; although he's far more comical here than in previous Lecter films. As anyone who has read the book will tell you, Edward Norton is completely wrong for the role of Will Graham as the role needed a grittier actor. Harvey Keitel is a great actor, but Scott Glenn from Silence of the Lambs fit the role of Jack Crawford much better. There's nothing wrong with the rest of the supporting cast, however, with Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson and Philip Seymour Hoffman all fit into their respective roles well. There's not a great deal wrong with the plot pacing, although the film is a little slow at times and the book is much more exciting on the whole. Certain parts of the plot could have been cut out to streamline the film for the screen, although Ted Tally's screenplay is good in that it does encompass most of the important parts of the book. Obviously this film is always going to come under criticism for not being as great as Silence of the Lambs and it does have nothing on the book, but overall Red Dragon is a decent enough thriller in it's own right and I cant say I dislike it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Red Dragon is a remake of Manhunter only with it's original title Red Dragon and in my opinion is the better of the two versions. F.B.I agent Will Graham(Edward Norton)is a profiler who has the ability to recreate how a murder took place before his own eyes.We learn that it was he who caught Dr.Lecter..... and he has a massive scar on his side to prove it.Years later Graham is sent to see Hannibal in the same secure prison from Silence of The Lambs and get his help on catching a killer called the Toothfairy(Ralph Fiennes)who is so much more disturbed and creepy than Lecter could ever be. The story is how Will Graham comes to peace with who he is himself and his special ability(he hates what he sees through it)and how he catches the twisted killer.With strong supporting performances from Emily Watson as Reba a blind woman who is in love with the killer(but she doesn't know who he is)and Harvey Keitel as Agent Jack Crawford Wills boss and friend. This is a must see and there is a nice tie in with The Silence of The Lambs at the end.
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