Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hannibal (2001)

Released ten years after the fantastic Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal manages the rather impressive feat of sort of failing to live up to the first film and work as a sequel, but also sort of succeed as a different sort of horror film.

Taking place ten years after the first film, it sees FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) in a lousy position with her job on the line after a botched bust, no respect from her peers (one of whom is Ray Liotta at his slimy best) and in general, one thoroughly screwed individual.  She gets pulled into a scheme by one of Hannibal Lecter's victims, a gruesomely disfigured rich guy named Mason Verger (Gary Oldman in an uncredited performance) who wants revenge on the good doctor and then... Well, things get sort of convoluted.

Honestly, the film is a bit of a bore whenever Anthony Hopkins isn't on screen.  Julianne Moore is a good actress and she's a fine replacement for Jodie Foster but the stuff they have her do and go through could have been done by any actress.  As with the first one, she is constantly second guessed and doubted by her male superiors but unlike the first one film where it was sort of subtle and worked, here it just feels played out and obvious.  The bizarre romantic undertones between her and Lecter from the first film are also revisited here, they work okay but slow down things a little too much for my liking.

Fortunately, large swathes of the movie are given to Anthony Hopkins and his demented character.  While he was creepy as hell as a supporting character in the first film, his lead role here turns the movie at times into an extremely gruesome take on every Vincent Price movie from the early seventies.  Hopkins is good in this more over the top version of Lecter and he has some wonderful exchanges with Italian cop named Pazzi (Lecter is hiding out in Italy, posing as an art expert) played by Giancarlo Giannini who is suspicious of him.  Pazzi is eventually bribed by Verger to arrange for Lecter to be captured and the scene where Hannibal gets his revenge on the cop is a lovely bit of grand guignol as Hopkins channels his inner Vincent Price while killing the man in a nicely disgusting manner.

He tops this later during the finale where he captures the Ray Liotta character after abducting Clarice after saving her life and forcing her to watch as he feeds Liotta bits of his own brain.  It's a hell of a showstopper, honestly one of the grossest things I've ever seen in a movie and makes the more emotional psychological showdown between Lecter and Clarice almost an afterthought.

Overall though, the film has to be considered a failure as a sequel to the original.  It substitutes subtle eerie moments for more over the top theatrics (Hopkins and Oldman chew so much scenery that there is literally nothing left for the other actors to dig into) and in the end it is just as unsatisfying as the book it was based on... Though not as weird.  It's too long, the pacing is off and at the end of the day it's not a great sequel to the original.

It is, however, modestly entertaining if you look at it as the greatest movie Vincent Price never made.  I don't know, maybe I'm just a sucker for Dino DeLaurentiis productions.

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About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.