Combustible Celluloid
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With: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman, Frankie Faison, Giancarlo Giannini
Written by: David Mamet, Steven Zaillian based on the novel by Thomas Harris
Directed by: Ridley Scott
MPAA Rating: R for strong, gruesome violence, some nudity and language
Running Time: 131
Date: 02/09/2001

Hannibal (2001)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Brain Man

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Anthony Hopkins returns with delicious relish to his man-eater role Hannibal Lecter from Jonathan Demme's The Silence of the Lambs. Demme's film was a rich psychological film that moved when its characters moved, but Hannibal director Ridley Scott is more concerned with style than substance. So we tend to rely on our previous knowledge of the characters. This works fine with Hopkins, but not so with Julianne Moore who now occupies the role of FBI Agent Clarice Starling. Though Moore is a fine actress, we keep looking for traces of Jodie Foster in her character. Nevertheless, Scott's elegant, shadowy atmosphere and deliberate pacing make the film a delightfully spooky experience (it's more in line with part one of the series, Michael Mann's 1986 Manhunter), though the extreme gore may be too much for some viewers. Steven Zaillian and David Mamet adapted the screenplay from Thomas Harris' novel. Ray Liotta also stars.

DVD Details: Director Ridley Scott approaches this third Hannibal Lecter film (Manhunter was the first) from the point of view of Lecter himself, a smooth, highly intelligent, cultured villain. For the film to take place in a location less sumptuous than Italy would be unthinkable. Scott provides just the right, quiet, sinister atmosphere for this film to make up for its lack of story (written, incidentally, by a pair of top-notch writers, David Mamet and Steven Zaillian). Whereas Lambs had the brilliant tête-à-tête with Clarice and Hannibal at its core, this one is all shadows, tapestries, and cobblestones. (It all looks great on the new DVD.) The mood, the game-playing, and the pure use of brains (no pun intended) make this a far better film than Scott's previous outing, Gladiator, but as a member of the horror genre, Hannibal doesn't have prayer at this year's Oscars.

MGM/UA's double-DVD set contains some serious extras: plenty of outtakes, a fairly interesting 75-minute "making-of" documentary, and an interactive deconstruction of three scenes in which the viewer can select between camera angles. Ridley Scott provides a commentary track, but sticks strictly to the standard rulebook.

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