on December 5, 2003
Manhunter the restored director's cut is the most comprehensive version of the film and the transfer was supervised by Michael Mann, but the source print doesn't look like it's in as good of shape as the one used in the Anchor Bay 2001 theatrical version DVD release. I am referring to all of the scenes. The color is more washed out and there is more film grain present than the 2001 release. The picture has a darker look to it, the lush colors of the 2001 release are lacking. The opening scene is framed differently and is grainier than the other version. The scenes edited back into the movie are of horrible quality, and add little to the film, but nevertheless work very well. The opening credits appear as Will Graham is asked to help track the Tooth Fairy on the beach instead of shortly before. There is an extra scene with Will and Molly having a telephone conversation, along with an extension of a scene with Dennis Farina. The most noticeable difference is the end where an additional scene is provided where Graham visits the Jacobis, which on the theatrical release were only referred to. The shootout between the Tooth Fairy and Graham is edited a little different too. I prefer the 2001 DVD for this scene, but that's just me. This version of the film is in Dolby Digital 2.0 instead of Dolby 5.1 used in the 2001 release. The sound isnt going to test your home theater, but does exhibit decent separation. This movie is a Super 35 movie which shows more grain than anamorphic 2.35 or Academy Flat 1.85. This also means that both DVD versions show more width than what you might have seen on TV, or the VHS release, but are matted and show less height. This is just the Super 35 process which allows more flexiblity in framing. This is the version Michael Mann intended for you to see, still if you like the film, the 2001 DVD release isnt a let down because of the slightly better transfer. The director's cut print doesn't seem to be in as good of shape. Highly recommended. I like this better than Red Dragon, because this is more realistic, and the characters are more developed and believable.
on November 8, 2003
An FBI agent William Graham (William L. Petersen) comes out of retirement to examine a set of bizarre murders of families. These murders are suspected to have been the work of notorious serial killer known as The Tooth Fairy. Interested enough by the case, Graham makes use of profiling, or tries to think exactly like the killer in order to gain clues regarding his various whereabouts. He consults the incarcerated psychopathic psychiatrist that put him into retirement through near-fatal violence, Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox), for further clues. Graham is put into considerable danger when Lecktor warns The Tooth Fairy via phone of the case. It is only a matter of time before The Tooth Fairy will create another victim.
Complicated, well acted, and absorbing, Manhunter is an original thriller that focuses on the unique psychological struggle to catch a heinous criminal.
Note: the director's cut edition has an alternative ending.
If you liked this film, I would recommend you see "Silence of the Lambs", in which Hannibal Lecktor's character is emphasized more.
Overall rating: 4 stars
Rated R for adult themes, sexual encounters, language, and violence.
on October 14, 2003
My first Michael Mann movie was "Heat", a stunning drama in itself. When I saw "The Insider," I was hooked on to his style. This movie predates the other two, so this is where his style must have developed. Lots of wide-angled shots, a fluid narrative and some astonishingly riveting music (the soundtrack is hard to find btw, it is a collector's item now and boy does it deserve to be!)
Manhunter was the first movie adaptation of Tom Harris' book called "The Red Dragon". Although this is a Hannibal Lecktor movie (yes, with a "K") the role of Hannibal is not that prominent here, although what little there is does leave a malevolent tinge. Apparently, Brian Cox (as Lecktor here) caused a lot of furore in 1986 but after having seen Anthony Hopkins thrice in the quietly sinister role I must say he is unmatched. The voice of Hopkins has much more current than Cox's. IMHO.
With the exception of Hopkins though, whom I prefer, almost everyone in this film is more compelling than the newer movies (Silence of the lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon.)
I found William Petersen as FBI manhunter Will Graham much more appealing than Jodie Foster's or Julian Moore's Clarice Starling. Petersen's portrayal of Graham as the haunted, introspective, reluctant hero is more complex and believable...you get the sense that he is driven by inner demons to solve the crime he is faced with, but doesn't really want to be there and would much rather spend the remainder of his days in the bosom of his family on the beaches of Captiva Island.
The centerpiece of the film though is the terrifying portrayal of psychotic killer Francis Dollarhyde by the underrated but talented actor Tom Noonan. Noonan's hulking build seems a stark contrast to his character's quiet, introverted, soft-spoken persona, which hides the inner embodiment of pure, psychotic evil. Here is a guy who runs a photo lab by day but returns every night to a spooky, surreal lair which obviously reflects his inner psychosis, which he has learned to hide from view. The symbolism of his relationship with the blind Reba (Joan Allen) is obvious. His character is able to present a normal appearance to everyone around him yet goes out on the night of a full moon and slaughters whole families whose pictures he has processed, simply to fulfill his fantasies.
Give this film a go if you can manage the tension and the buildup to the shattering climax. Then give the family a hug afterwards, and make sure your doors and windows are locked at night. Mann's filmmaking has a way to make your skin crawl.
on October 7, 2003
What can I possibly add that 300 + reviews haven't already stated.
I know after watching Red Dragon (the Brett Ratner version) I wanted to write Michael Mann a personal letter (definitely not my style!!!) thanking him for the beautiful movie he made in 1986 called Manhunter.
It has always been one of my favourite, must have movies, and after seeing Red Dragon, I now knew why. For those who Silence of the Lambs/Hannibal/Red Dragon were first introductions to these characters, I wish they had only been acquainted with 'Manhunter' first, but generational and promotional gaps can't be helped. Mann's film was low budget, but he presented one of the most influential crime films of its time. The style and atmosphere were an inspiration to many a movie and television drama after it, despite its lack of monetary backing.
I rewatched Manhunter after Red Dragon, and even noticed that Jodie Foster played her character in Silence of The Lambs much like Petersen did, even down to facial twitches when speaking to Hannibal. There's something about the Frankenstein Dungeon atmosphere of the 90's adaptions of Hannibal that has always for me 'telegraphed' the menace of the cannibal psychologist, but I always felt that Anthony Hopkins was brilliant as Hannibal just by the sheer menace that boiled underneath him. Great actor, and I personally feel he saves all 3 films from a slight mediocrity when held in comparison to Mann's Manhunter. Hannibal in an all- white prison cell (as in Manhunter) somehow allows the actor to ''create'' that menace in a blank space. The big difference in Hannibal's (Cox & Hopkins) is the speed in which they deliver their insanity. Hopkins is very slow and menacing, manipulative and calculating in speech, Brian Cox quick and sure-footed, adapting quickly to each situation and response as it arrives. I feel both are suited for that character. But there was something about Cox's way of getting Will Graham's home phone number in Manhunter that I found more believeable and chilling at how easy it was gotten. Hopkins is a wonderful actor, and I can only imagine what Mann could have done if given the liberty to work with him, but Cox is certainly admirable and credible in the role as well. Understated is the word. Hopkins LOOKS crazy. I'm not so sure I would go to him for psychological advice. Cox is much more approachable, and thats where the danger is.
There is so much in Mann's Manhunter that stylistically, atmospherically and artistically dwarfs the later adaptions, even though it was low budget, that I cannot even begin to describe how well this movie worked on so many levels. The main one being, the characters are so much more defined. Details from the book are somewhat left out, but what is brought in its stead is 'mood'. Dennis Farina carries the protective air over Petersen's Graham to much greater effect. The feeling is that Farina's Crawford is just as in danger of falling over the psychological 'edge' as Petersen's Graham, but he serves as a foothold for the character should they start falling. You start caring about these characters and their dependency on eachother in mad circumstances, Lecktor/Graham/Crawford and The Red Dragon/Tooth Fairy Dolarhyde. The relationships are shown and explored through camerawork and very understated acting. Everything is very low key. Until the menace begins to grow.
Brilliant film. Too bad Mann was not asked to direct Red Dragon. THAT would have been justice!
on August 6, 2003
"MANHUNTER" is a 5 star film that has yet to receive the treatment it deserves. Technically speaking, this new DVD gets 3 stars, which is a big step up from the 1 star treatment it got in 2002. I'll dispense with the superlatives about Michael Mann's screenplay and direction and the performances of William Peterson, Tom Noonan and Brian Cox and concentrate on the merits of this new DVD edition. I became familiar with this film from a taped broadcast from The Movie Channel back in 1987 which Mann also reworked from the original theatrical release by adding the same footage included in this new edition. The only difference is the deletion of a scene in which Graham has a brief interview with the director of the institution in which Dr.Lecktor is imprisoned. In that scene, Graham becomes irritated when asked about his ability to get inside of Lecktor's fantasies. It's not an important scene, but it does help convey Graham's discomfort with the talent that makes him such an asset to the FBI. The scenes which Mann added both to that TMC release and this new edition are welcome improvements.
There is a notice at the beginning of this edition advising that some of the footage is of less than optimum quality due to some inferior source material for scenes that were not included in the theatrical version. That's an understatement. The image quality through 95% of this film is very good. However, several shots are of VHS quality and a few look like they were shot through cheesecloth. In the director's commentary, Mann explains this dissapointing result. But it's by far the best version available. Especially since the 2 versions released by Anchor Bay in 2002(the same distributor responsible for this new edition)are so awful.
How many fans of this film noticed that the theatrical version released in 2002, which claimed to be widescreen, was not? I thought something looked strange, so I compared it to the tape I'd made from TMC 15 yrs. prior, which was of course in standard full screen (1.33:1) format. I found that the left & right borders of the image stopped at exactly the same point and that image which appeared at the top and bottom of the frame of the VHS was covered by the black bars on the DVD. I was amazed & appalled; they'd taken a full screen original and plastered black bars over the top & bottom and pawned it off as widescreen. The Director's Cut that was simultaneously released had the worst image quality I've ever seen on DVD. I returned my copy for a refund.
This new edition actually is widescreen. The extras are only so-so. There's the usual theatrical trailer and production stills. Michael Mann's commentary is interesting at times, but doesn't provide much insight into the movie making experience. Unless forgotten original film negatives of the added scenes are found in some studio storeroom, it's unlikely that there will ever be a better version of this excellent film. In spite of the technical flaws, this disc is a must-have for any "avid fan".
on July 24, 2003
First off, the movie itself is excellent. I give it 4 stars. I bought this movie back in 1987, remembering that I wanted to see it based on previews at the theaters, but I never got to see it until it came out on VHS. However, this DVD release get's 3 stars only because it's nothing really special and it's the Limited Edition's Director's Cut with the video much improved. But, it still has a glaring omission that I will cover later in this review.
I remember Showtime advertising a Director's Cut of the movie and I remember it being so much better than the theatrical version. The one scene that especially stands out in my mind is the final confrontation between Dolarhyde and Graham. First off, Graham has a 38 Bulldog special which only holds 5 rounds. Also, he is using Glazer safety slugs. In the theatrical version, Graham gets off six shots. WHOOPS! In the Director's cut, they get it right. He only fires 5 shots. Also, with Glazers, the bullet does NOT travel through the body. The whole point of Glazers is that they explode on impact, preventing them from passing through the intended target and possibly hitting someone behind them. In the theatrical version, you see blood spray after the 2nd or 3rd shot hitting the kitchen wall behind Dolarhyde. This would not happen with Glazers. Also, due to the impact and explosion of the bullet upon impact, anyone hit would have been down on the first shot.
In the director's cut, the blood spray never happens, although there is blood on the back wall. I guess Mann decided to cut out the scene that contained the spray rather than reshoot it since the director's cut came out on Showtime some couple of years after the movie was released in theatres.
With the theatrical and limited edition that Anchor Bay released, I got what I was looking for, but only to a degree.
First off, the DVD theatrical version is NOT the true theatrical version. There are extra scenes added that were NOT in the theatrical version. Also, a scene where Graham sympathizes with Dolarhyde before the final confrontation is left out for some unknown reason. The Director's Cut is still not the TRUE director's cut that I saw on Showtime because of the missing scene just mentioned. However, it was the only version available, but the picture was horrible. Colors bled and overall, it appeared to have been copied from a pirated copy on VHS. That's how bad it looked.
Much to my surprise, I was looking at a local store and saw the Restored Director's Cut. I was excited to finally have what was not given to us before. Or, so I thought. I guess the sentence that sold me was the one on the back of the DVD case: "The restoration of this Director's Cut was overseen by Michael Mann to bring you the definitive version of this chilling classic." I guess I thought since Mann oversaw this version, I figured it would have the complete movie in it.
To begin with, unlike the theatrical version that Anchor Bay released, this is only in Dolby 2.0. Not a big problem. The picture through MOST of this version is excellent. Apparently, they used the theatrical version for most of the movie. However, you can tell when it switches to the director's cut scenes because they are not as crisp and clear as the theatrical scenes, but it is still a big improvement over the first Anchor Bay Director's Cut. However, the scene with Graham sympathizing with Dolarhyde is STILL missing. The actual scene is as follows:
Agent Jack Crawford FBI: You feel sorry for him.
Will Graham: As a child, my heart bleeds for him. Someone took a little boy and turned him into a monster. But as an adult... as an adult, he's irredeemable. He butchers whole families to fulfill some sick fantasy. As an adult, I think someone should blow the ... out of his socks.
This scene is still absent for whatever reason and many of us fans feel it is too bad that it's missing. It's a powerful statement that actually hints as to what drives Dolarhyde to become such a brutal killer. It actually coincides with what is explained about Dolarhyde in the book.
What is nice is to have Michael Mann's commentary. At one point, he does briefly explain that DEG went bankrupt in the 1980s, making it impossible to find the original film prints for many of the scenes. So, this possibly explains the reason why the Director's Cut scenes are still grainy and also why the ommitted scene is still missing. It's too bad, but apparently, there are European versions of the theatrical release that contain the missing scene, so why they could get ahold of it, but Anchor Bay could not doesn't make much sense.
Other than that, this DVD doesn't have much to offer. There are still pictures of deleted and alternate scenes, a trailer, and those with a DVD ROM can read the script in PDF format. Since many scenes were filmed with Tom Noonan with the Red Dragon tatoo on him, it's too bad they couldn't have put those into a deleted scenes section. But, then again, maybe due to DEG going bankrupt, they couldn't find the original prints for those scenes.
If you have the Limited Edition and theatrical version, keep it since there is nothing else special about this DVD. Still, to have a better looking Director's Cut, this DVD is worth it.
Due to the lack of special features (except for Mann's commentary) AND the still missing scene, this DVD release gets a 3-star rating. Still, it's worth having to complete your Hannibal collection (and I still think it's better than the remake, although that's a good movie as well).
on July 23, 2003
Even though RED DRAGON released last year ...
This adaptation was made four years before SILENCE OF THE LAMBS and was based on the earlier Thomas Harris novel RED DRAGON. They did not call it RED DRAGON, because there was another movie that year with DRAGON in the title that did not do so well...and the studio feared it would get confused with that film. It's driected by Michael Mann who is famous for MIAMI VICE, and yes it shows in this film. But it's a grueling fast-paced reality-based thriller similar to SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Big challenge is they had to vocalize Will Graham's thoughts in the book into actual lines in the movie. Sometimes you can tell the film was made on a smallish budget in the mid-80s, but on the whole? It holds up today as a great adaptation of a great book! It's a fun movie, and if you are a fan of the other thrillers like SILENCE OF THE LAMBS this will be right up your alley. Yes, there is a wonderful appearance by Hannibal the infamous cannibal -- though not much is made of his modus operandi. He is never referred to as a cannibal. But Brian Cox's portrayal is strong if brief. The real stars here are the actors portraying Will Graham and the killer. Both give creepy a human edge as they play cat and mouse with each other. And fans of Joan Allen -- her portrayal of the blind Reba is amazingly well done. Sexy and stylish, not too much gore, and very tight pacing. I can't be more effusive about this movie.
DIVIMAX DVD presentation of the film with added scenes before only seen on television showings. The only problem with that is you see a difference in the film quality when they go to these scenes. They really don't add too much, but worth a look. Also in this version is a commentary from Michael Mann. He's not as chatty as some directors, but gives you a good idea of what he wanted out of this thriller.
on July 22, 2003
I know Silence of the Lambs is more popular in the series than this one, but I think this is a better movie. It stars William Petersen as Will Graham, a semi-retired FBI profiler, who is called into service to catch a highly methodical serial killer. Will has the unique ability to get into the killers' mind, see what he sees, understand the motives behind the crimes. Only problem is when he gets so close, lets all those bad thoughts in, it's difficult to deal with them, as they sort of poison his mind. This, along with the physical injuries he sustained on a previous case, forced him to go into semi-retirement/seclusion with his family.
At the time this movie came out, I got the feeling that profiling of serial killers was a fairly new science, and not yet deemed as useful of a tool as it could be. This is represented in the meeting Will attends with a group of FBI agents who are working on the new case, with the killer named 'The Tooth Fairy'. It's not that they derided him when he presented the information in the course of his profiling, but you felt like they looked at him like he was making psychic predictions and his input wasn't all that credible. That was my opinion, and I may be wrong. Anyway, it was amazing to go with Will to the murder scenes and see things they way he saw them, that is to say they way the killer may have seen them. He uncovers clues missed during previous investigations, clues that help to further along the case against the ever elusive Tooth Fairy.
Some really great scenes involve Will visiting Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, played by Brian Cox. While I thought Anthony Hopkins did a great job in the part in the following movies, I will always visualize Brian Cox as Lecktor. He brought such a subtle and sublime presence to the part, and underlying evil that is so evident that his prison walls, while managing to keep his physical being, seems unable to contain his spirit of evil. Will visits Dr. Lecktor, the most recent serial killer he caught and the one that made him leave the work behind, to try and develop the scent, so to speak, get the feeling back, to track this new killer.
Another thing I really enjoyed was the methodical investigation performed by the FBI. They weren't made to look like a bunch of fools, in that clues just fell out of the sky and the case solved itself. The scene where the letter from the killer to Lecktor is scrutinized but different groups within the FBI was really fascinating. It was amazing to see how much they could do with so little information.
Dennis Farina has a great role as FBI section chief Jack Crawford, the person who brings Will back into the world that he tried to put out of his life. He knows Will is the best, even if he doesn't understand his methods. He shows a genuine friendship for Will, concern for when he thinks Will is getting in too deep, but has to travel a fine line between friendship and duty, which sometimes gets blurred and causes conflicts. One of my favorite lines in the movie is when Will and Jack are arguing about it being too late to catch the killer, as the killer operates within a certain time frame, and Will is unwilling to give up, telling Jack "I'll tell you when it's over!" with such conviction. And Tom Noonan does a great job portraying the killer, who always manages to seem a little off kilter with the world around him, out of sync, but sort of hidden from view, like something always in your peripheral vision but never in plain sight.
The scene where the FBI eventually catches up to the killer is one of the most memorable movie moments for me. The music combined with the visuals is incredible. The movie really kept my attention throughout, but the end kept me riveted.
This version looks really good, and I did notice that a few scenes were added, hence the director's cut, and I think they added to the movie. The high definition transfer looks really good. There is also a new commentary by the director, Michael Mann, trailers, promotional stills, advertising materials, and alternate and deleted scenes. On thing I did notice was in some of the pictures, the serial killer has a rather large tattoo on his back, with what looks like wings, but wasn't present in the movie. It looked pretty amazing, and I haven't listen to the director's commentary to see if he explains not using that visual effect, but I would be interested to know why it wasn't used.
This movie will stay with you awhile, and holds up extremely well to repeated viewings. Another really good movie with William Petersen was the one he made before Manhunter, called To Live and Die in LA, which also stars Willem Dafoe. It's not as good as this one, but just as taut and highly intensive viewing, but not on DVD at the time this review was written.
on July 21, 2003
Before Jonathan Demme's Academy Award winning Silence of the Lambs graced the screen with Anthony Hopkins in all of his visceral glory, Michael Mann's little remembered (and seen) thriller, Manhunter presented a very different kind of Hannibal Lector. While Demme's film opted for over-the-top performances and needlessly gory scenes of violence, Mann's film took a subtler, creepier approach to its material. Manhunter is less interested in depicting the actual killings (the main attraction of this genre when it became popular) than in the cerebral and actual legwork required to enter the killer's frame of mind and track him down.
Anchor Bay had previously released Manhunter on an excellent two-DVD "Limited Edition" set that featured a re-mastered work print (which they mistakenly billed as the "theatrical" cut) and a poor looking director's cut taken from video tape. Both versions featured footage not seen in the actual theatrical release or on VHS. Anchor Bay received so much flak for the substandard version of the director's cut that they had Mann personally supervise a re-mastered version of his preferred cut of the movie.
For fans who bought the Limited Edition set, hold on to your copy because this version has none of the featurettes or the creatively packaged booklet that came with that version. Upon closer scrutiny, it also becomes apparent that Mann did not include all of the added scenes in the Limited Edition's Director's Cut (LEDC). For example, on track 7 when Graham goes to meet Lecktor in his cell the LEDC has him meet with Dr. Chilton briefly who tries to bait Graham much in the same fashion as the Atlanta Police. This footage is not in the Restored Director's Cut. This means that this new DVD is yet another version (bringing the total, if you count the old VHS version, up to four).
Having said that, this version is certainly required viewing for fans of Mann and of Manhunter because of the audio commentary that he contributes to the DVD. While there are the occasional lulls, Mann talks at length and very eloquently about the themes of the movie. He points out that that this was one of the first films to feature a main character who is a profiler of serial killers. Both these terms were not as common as they are today. Mann also talks about his admiration for Thomas Harris' novel and explains that in regards to Lecktor's screen time he opted for the "less is more" approach because the psychiatrist was such a charismatic character. However, while Mann does acknowledge the added footage, he doesn't always explain why he put it back in, nor does he talk about some of the footage he has subsequently cut, like an excellent monologue delivered by Graham in regards to his feelings about Dollarhyde.
Also included are a theatrical trailer and a rather sizable still gallery that consists of production stills, deleted/alternate scenes and posters and advertising materials. While the production stills are a welcome addition, the deleted scenes photos and movie posters are nothing new if you have access to the two excellent Manhunter websites on the Internet...
on July 18, 2003
MANHUNTER is the first time that the Thomas Harris's novel, RED DRAGON, was put on film. Written and directed by Michael Mann, made in the mid-80s, the movie has that same feel of Mann's television hit, Miami Vice, while staying true to the book. FBI agent Will Graham (William Petersen) is asked to come out of retirement by his former boss, Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina), to aide in tracking down a serial killer, known as "the tooth fairy" (Tom Noonan). Graham is reluctant to help out because he barely captured madman Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Brian Cox) and almost lost his life. He agrees to help out, then, it's determined that Dr. Lecter may hold the key to cracking the case.
The release of Brett Ratner's version of RED DRAGON, has taken the attention off of this adaptation, because of the return of Anthony Hopkins in the Lecter role, but I think that thanks to Michael Mann's craftsmanship as a filmmaker, this version has more going for it than some might think. Even though, this movie has 80s all over it, the performance of Petersen rivals Edward Norton as Graham. Tom Noonan as Francis Dolarhyde/"The Tooth Fairy" gives viewers a less sympathetic look at this killer, than Ralph Finnes does in latest film. Cox is also good as Lecter, but, I have to say that's it's hard not to think of anyone else but Hopkins doing Lecter. Mann delivers a very good film on a limited budget.
Normaly, I hate it when the studios release multiple editions of a film on DVD, but in the case of Manhunter: Divimax edition-at least Anchor Bay made sure the new extras warrant the reissue. The extras now include a fine audio commentary by Mann. This is a rarity for the filmmaker, as an admirer of the film, it's a boon over the previous release to hear his thoughts about the movie. This release also boasts a new high-definition transfer approved by the director that allows for a better quality picture over the standard version. Another plus for me is the deleted and alternate scene gallery. It's pretty cool to see what was left on the cutting room floor and the material is fairly meaty. A production still, advertising gallery, and theatrical trailers top off the extras. A much improved edition for sure. I would say that Mann should do more commetaries for his other films
I think Anthony Hopkins as Lecter will always overshadow Manhunter in some way. But both film versions of the Harris novel have their place. It is interesting to "see" another take on the book-- The newest reissue of MANHUNTER on DVD is recommened. **** and half stars.