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Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins)
Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore)
Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta)
Detective Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini)
Mason Verger (Gary Oldman)
Directed by Ridley Scott Written by David Mamet and Steven Zaillian, based on the novel by Thomas Harris
Rated R for strong gruesome violence, brief nudity and language
Running Time: 131 minutes Distributed by MGM/Universal
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Hannibal is an unlikable and limping gross-out sequel to the 1991 thriller The Silence of the Lambs. The film opens with the hero of the predecessor, FBI agent Clarice Starling (Moore), being encountered in a swirl of controversy, for her recent violent filled shootout with a dangerous criminal. Clarice is now ten years older, still dedicated, but also confused about the FBI and her superiors. On the other side of the world in Florence, Italy is where the psychopath Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) is residing. Lecter is now free to hide under the current name of Dr. Field, along with continuing cannibalistic acts, while also collecting art and playing the piano. In a matter of interest, a Florence detective named Pazzi (Giannini) suspects Dr. Field of being Lecter. Pazzi decides to try and catch him without the authorities, so he can sell Lecter to rich man Mason Verger (Oldman). Verger is the only known surviving victim of Dr. Lecter’s. He was a child molester that Lecter treated and convinced to scar himself for life. Verger survived with having crucial facial defamations and trouble with breathing. Now, he yearns for revenge and he is willing to pay huge sums for Lecter. Starling incredibly finds out of Lecter’s whereabouts and Verger’s intentions, and now she has a mission to try and rekindle Dr. Lecter to stop his unthinkable actions and madness.

I liked the first half of Hannibal, but the last hour of the film drags its weight and finishes in a sick and what I found weak climatic ending.

Two screenwriters that I have an admirable respect for, David Mamet and Steven Zaillian, adapted Hannibal from the book by Thomas Harris. The film opens with a bang and the scenes with Lecter in Italy are somewhat intriguing. However, I just found the script to fall apart as the film progressed. I have not read Harris’ novel, but I interviewed my brother, who did read it, after I viewed this film. He explained to me that some things were altered or left out of the script, with the biggest concept change being the film’s ending. When he told me what happened at the end of Harris’ novel, I saw it as a cop-out and worse than the way the film ends. The characters also tumbled into the messy script. Lecter was so terrifying in the predecessor story and in this version it is as if he is a comedian with his violent acts. Clarice, on the other hand, has the same obsession, but is more or less aware and isolated. Also, the script flow varies in each scene, in which some of the interactions between the characters are quick and precise, while others are slow. Overall, I believe the most problems of the film are due to the script and even more so to the overall choices by Harris in his novel.

Red-hot off of Gladiator’s success, Ridley Scott stepped in the director’s chair for Hannibal, after The Silence of the Lambs director (Jonathan Demme) rejected to helm the picture. For the most part, the direction is exquisite in Hannibal. There are many sweet slow motion and action scenes that only Ridley Scott could have photographed. Hannibal is also filled with the beautiful and graceful setting of Italy for the first half of the film. Scott’s outlook for this film is dark, but not really as scary as it is gruesome. An example is the last scene of the film, which is one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen. It was as if Scott was directing a scene from Faces of Death rather than a blockbuster film. Even though, I didn’t like this film, Ridley Scott is still a very talented and great director.

Anthony Hopkins steps back into the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, which previously won him an Oscar. Though Hopkins does a good job in the film, this time around I didn’t find him chilling or as mind-blowing as in The Silence of the Lambs. I remember when I first few times I saw The Silence of the Lambs, I was scared to walk down my grandmother’s long hallway to go to bed. I thought that Dr. Lecter would be around the corner waiting for me. Back then I was young, but I still find Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs as very scary. Hopkins resurfaces Lecter’s voice and mannerisms, but it seemed that he lost parts of the character, which I blame more on the script than Hopkins. Julianne Moore steps into the character of Clarice Starling after Jodie Foster refuse to reprise the role. Moore, like Hopkins, is really good in the film, but she also shows moments of the character being downsized. She does hold her country accent and steals some scenes with her eyes and sternness. An unrecognizable Gary Oldman turns in another sick and twisted performance as the obsessed surviving victim of Lecter. Ray Liotta returns to the screen and turns in a stable performance as Clarice’s ex-lover and now boss, Paul Krendler. Finally, Giancarlo Giannini turns in a terrific performance as the Florence inspector Pazzi. Giannini has great puppy dog eyes and sensible body language that contributes to his effective performance. In fact, I found the most tension filled scenes of the film to be riding on the shoulders of Giannini.

On a side note, Hans Zimmer delivers a beautiful score full of opera, enchantment and also creepy music that is one of the best elements in this film.

Hannibal is a film I am not recommending; I found it flat after the first hour. This movie is also very graphic and gruesome, so no one under seventeen years old should see this film. In fact, I believe that Hannibal should have been rated NC-17 for its content.

Report Card Grade: C-

Beastman’s Movie Reviews
Copyright, 2001 Joseph C. Tucker

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