Ten years later in Hannibal, Dr. Lecter (Hopkins) is living the good life in Italy, studying art and sipping espresso. FBI agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore, replacing Foster), on the other hand, is now a quiet, moody loner. A botched drug raid results in her demotion--and a request from Lecter's only living victim, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman, uncredited), for a little Q&A. Little does Starling realize that the hideously deformed Verger is using her as bait to lure Dr. Lecter out of hiding. Taking the basic plot contraptions from Harris's baroque novel, Hannibal is so stylistically different from its predecessor that it forces you to take it on its own terms. Director Ridley Scott adeptly sets up an atmosphere of foreboding, but it's all buildup for anticlimax, as Verger's plot for abducting Dr. Lecter doesn't really deliver the requisite visceral thrills, and the much-ballyhooed climatic dinner sequence wobbles between parody and horror. Hopkins and Moore are both first-rate, but the film contrives to keep them as far apart as possible, when what made Silence so amazing was their interaction. When they do connect it's quite thrilling, but it's unfortunately too little too late.
Hannibal-This underrated sequel looks and feels quite different from its predecessor. It has no intention of excelling as a pyschological thriller, but neither is this a straight through-and-through gorefest. Certainly entertaining but hardly mind-blowing, Hannibal is at least visually stylish and unpredictable, if not also somewhat silly.
*** 1/2 out of *****
The Silence of the Lambs was director Jonathan Demme's academy award winning 1991 classic. The success of the film, however, should not only be attributed to the director, because it was the work of the cinematographer, editor, writer, set director and, most of all, brilliant actors. Jodie Foster -IS- FBI agent Clarice Starling, brilliant, young, attractive (well, not really) and tough. Foster perfectly displays the emotions that go through her character and her growth throughout the picture. Some of my favorite scenes were where she discovers Buffalo Bill (the way she yells "freeze" is great!) and when she stands up to a crowd of men and orders them out of the room where an autopsy is taking place. Anthony Hopkins completely deserved his academy award as Hannibal. His portrayal of Hannibal and his personality was quite interesting. The way I see it, Hannibal is quite a nice gentlemen, but has a very large problem, that being his love for the taste of human flesh. I think you can tell from his scenes with Clarice Starling what a polite person he is. He might ask some personal questions, but the way he talks is courteous and friendly, if a bit intense. The cinematography of the film is fabulous, too. Clarice's descent into Lecter's holding cell is expertly handled, and the near final sequence with Clarice and Buffalo Bill is almost unbearably intense, thanks also to some wonderful music by Howard Shore. All in all, The Silence of the Lambs is a classic thriller which will live forever and deserves a place in everyone's collection.
The controversial sequel, 2001's Hannibal, is really quite an underappreciated piece of brilliant cinema. Ridley Scott is in top form as director here. The movie is overloaded with style of every type. Slow motion, overhead views, stylish flashbacks, sped up film, intense action and a brilliant use of classical music all add up to create an extremely memorable viewing experience. As for actors, they are all perfect. I was surprised to not think once about how well Julianne Moore was doing in comparison to Jodie Foster, and that was because she was equal to Foster. Rather than copying Foster's performance in The Silence of the Lambs, Moore makes the character her own. The Clarice of this film is meaner, more cynical and has a much smarter mouth than Foster's Clarice. This is because Hannibal takes place ten years after The Silence of the Lambs, so naturally, she wouldn't be such a goody goody, follow-the-rules woman. Anthony Hopkins steals the show as Hannibal. He is just as great as in the previous movies. In this film, Hannibal is free and loose, and from Hopkin's great acting, you can tell how much he treasures his freedom. Just look at how he sips his brandy and his cappachino. I loved that Lecter was free to do what he wanted in this film. Critics like Roger Ebert didn't seem to, and felt it took away from his mystery and creepiness. As much as I love Ebert, I must disagree. Having Hannibal out of the mental home was a work of genius and added a ton of creepiness to the flick. I have read Thomas Harris' novels The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal and feel that both movies do the books extreme justice, and, unbelievably, outdo them. In the case of The Silence of the Lambs, the movie version very accurately portrays the book version. Hannibal, however, was changed quite a bit. One part of the book I really liked that is nowhere in the film was Mason Verger's lesbian, body building sister, Margot. Also, Mason's love of terrorizing kids wasn't shown much in the film. The ending was suprmemely changed, but believe it or not, I liked the movie ending better. Hopkin's and Moore's performances in the finale are pitch perfect. Nothing removed from the book lowered my love for the film.
This set comes with two fantastic special editions. On The Silence of the Lambs, we find two documentaries, one old and one new, with the latter being quite fabulous. There are twenty minutes worth of deleted material. Some stuff was worthless and some stuff was very good, like one where Clarice is suspended by the FBI (Krendler's hate of her is set up for the sequel). There's also a rather funny phone message Anthony Hopkins left on his answering machine. Finally, posters, TV spots and a trailer are presented. The movie is in excellent 1:85:1 anamorphic ratio and has great 5.1 surround sound. The sequel is a fully laden two disc extravagenza which includes commentary by Ridley Scott, a very long documentary, 38 minutes of deleted and extended scenes, trailers and an "anatomy of a shootout" feature. Also presented in 1:85:1 anamorphic widescreen and with really good 5.1 surround sound. If there is any problem with these DVDs, it is the fact that the The Silence of the Lambs disc has almost none of the features found on the Criterion DVD, which included what I hear was an excellent audio commentary. It sounds like Criterion has a real problem with passing over any special features to a different company, so I can't blame MGM.
Overall, both of these films are masterpieces and the set is great. Also pick up Manhunter and Red Dragon on DVD from Anchor Bay and Universal.
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Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm having an old friend for dinner. Ta ta.
On DVD, the experience is very thrilling and state-of-the art. Silence Of The Lambs still sends chills down our spines, and engages us in a disturbing world of madness, tinged with cynical humor and engrossing conversations between Hopkins and Foster. Anthony Hopkins is Hannibal Lecter, the former therapist turned cannibal and criminal. It's undoubtedly Anthony Hopkins' trademark role and one that he will be remembered by. We are unnerved when Hannibal Lecter first meets Clarice Starling in the dungeon of the prison, where he confesses that he once "ate a man's liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti". To extract information revolving the transvestite skin-collector Buffalo Bill, Clarice must reveal deeply personal and traumatizing events from her childhood. She recalls running away from an abusive home only to witness the slaughter of innocent lambs in a farm house. The memory continues to haunt her and is reawakened by the hypnotic power of Dr. Lecter. The movie ends with the capture of Buffalo Bill and Clarice Starling's promotion. But Dr. Lecter manages to escape his cell and vanishes into Italy. Which brings us to the next film in the collection, the sequel, also based on the book by Thomas Harris. The follow-up "Hannibal".
2002: Ten years after the release of "Silence Of The Lambs", and ten years after the plotline of that particular film, we find Clarice Starling in a precarious situation. She has been demoted during a violent incident and is still haunted by memories of Dr. Lecter. A lonesome woman, she receives letters from Dr. Lecter, who (like old times) wishes to help Clarice get her career going again and capture another notorious psychotic killer. Dr. Lecter has been living a comfortable and reclusive life in Florence, Italy, a city which had always enchanted him. In Florence, Lecter attends operas, plays Bach's "Goldberg Variations", sips champagne and yes, still hungers for human flesh. Clarice and another agent (played by Ray Liotta) attempt to foil Dr. Lecter's machinations, but are captured and imprisoned in the dining room of Starling's home. In a disturbing sequence, Dr. Lecter, Starling and the FBI agent eat a dinner with the main course being the agent's own brain. Dr. Lecter manages to escape once again.
Most recently, the pre-quel to the events in "Silence Of The Lambs" was released, based also upon the successful Thomas Harris novel "Red Dragon". Red Dragon is still to be released on DVD. These films are the perfect "thriller" collection, each with its own striking features, plus interviews with the actors and director. For fans of the Thomas Harris novels and fans of the films, this is a genuinely superb gift.