Hannibal (Special Edition)

Hannibal (Special Edition)

Hannibal continues some ten years after
the events that closed Silence Of The Lambs

Hannibal (Special Edition)

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Many films have generated sequels. The sequel is a time honored and much maligned form of cinema. Few sequels have surpassed the original, few have even lived up to it. Most sequels have been much anticipated. The trend holds true for the sequel to the brilliant film Silence of the Lambs.

Hannibal continues some ten years after the events that closed Silence. Clarice Starling (now played by Julianne Moore) is finding it difficult to live up to the fame that surrounded her student days chasing the infamous serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lector (Sir Anthony Hopkins). She is on a drug bust near Washington DC when a shoot out occurs. Starling is forced to shoot and killer a mother holding a baby. Of course, the mother had a Mac-10 and shot Starling first but in the aftermath of Ruby Ridge and Waco the FBI is under fire for violence. Starling is reassigned back on the dead end Lector case and monitored by a stiff bureaucrat played to the hilt by Ray Liotta.. While looking for new clues to Hannibal Lector’s whereabouts she comes across a former victim of Hannibal Lector, the ultra wealthy Mason Verger (a heavily disguised Gary Oldman). He is out for revenge. Hannibal Lector drugged Verger and feed his face to the dogs. Meanwhile, Hannibal Lector is loose in Italy where a local cop becomes suspicious. He sells Hannibal Lector to Verger and the fun really begins.

Hannibal does not live up to the story presented in Silence. Rather than a dramatic build up the story jumps around a bit too much. Starling is made too much of a loser while there is an attempt to provide redeeming qualities to Lector. Starling seems to deliberately saboteur her career, Hannibal Lector kills who he considers ‘free range rude’ people. The polarization of good and evil that helped to make Silence is merely shades of gray here. Hannibal Lector is given almost supernatural abilities here, vicious animals avoid him for example. The character of Hannibal Lector and Starling worked best when the represented human beings, albeit gifted ones, that lived on opposite ends of the spectrum.

Although Hannibal fails to live up to expectations, the casting does not. Jody Foster declined the reprisal of her role as Starling. Taking up the role Moore does an excellent job with what she had to work with. She brings some dimension to the role but fails to make the audience believe that she lifted herself up from modest roots to the FBI. There is just a feeling I got that she was out of place in the role. Moore drifts through most of Hannibal. While this actual works on some levels considering the story it’s like a puzzle piece that is forced into place. Hopkins is the consummate professional. He owes this role like few actors could. To play Hannibal Lector the actor must present a person of extremely high intelligence, sharp powers of observation and a keen insight into others. Hopkins comes across not only this way in his role but the interviews provided shows he has many of these qualities in his own life. He commands the screen in every scene. He does more with a look or gesture than most actors can do in a lifetime. Oldman provides much of the comic relief for the film. As the disfigured Verger he gives the audience another viewpoint, one of revenge. Starling seeks justice, Hanibal Lector seeks excitement while Verger shows the base side of normal humans. Liotta is unintentionally comic in his role as the Treasury Agent in charge of Starling. His fowl mouth and uppity attitude make for a character that is not at all sympathetic. If he was the ending might have worked on a different level.

Director Ridley Scott has had a long and distinguished career. From Thelma and Louise to Blade Runner to Alien, and more recently Gladiator Scott has proven himself as a director of merit and imagination. Still, he has had his off moments like G.I. Jane. In many ways this film is not the best work for this amazing director. For example, in the beginning there are some techniques used that detracts from the movie. The movie opens with a small window in the corner that grows to fill the screen. Another is the way pigeons that form the outline of Hanibal’s face on the sidewalk. For a film like this a more straightforward approach would have presented the material far better. Scott’s trademark dark view is ever present here. The lighting is deceptive, shadows shifting, attention to the smallest details and expert framing of each scene. Scott paced Hanibal a bit slower than most of his flicks. At times it drags. Part of this is the audience’s anticipation of the gruesome scenes we know are about to come. The end (which most know by now) is played almost in a comic fashion. While not his best Scott’s talent makes his direction here a cut above most directors out there today.

The disc itself is excellent. There is both Dolby 5.1 ad DTS soundtracks. The DTS version seemed fuller to me. It has much more back fill to the sound field. It also had a better distribution of frequencies. The highs were brighter and the bass richer and fuller. The 1.85:1 anamorphic video has extremely clear. There was attention paid to the color balance that is unfortunately not given to many DVDs today. The DVD is presented in two discs. The first has the film while the second carries the extras. Here are a good number to entertain the viewer for hours. There is a behind the scenes featurette that is broken down into several different sections Each section takes you through a different aspect of the process of film making. The deleted scene section is more extensive and better done than most. You can also view these scenes with or with out commentary. Also included are extended scenes that made the film and a second (of three potential) endings. A worth while but not great film.

Movie Review of Hannibal (Special Edition)
by Doug MacLean of hometheaterinfo.com

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