Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hannibal (2001)

So after watching The Silence of the Lambs, I was intrigued by the ending and curious where the story was headed. And I decided that now was as good a time as any for me to watch the other titles in the series. Hannibal is the sequel to Silence. Silence was a good movie, but I feel that Hannibal jumps the shark. A quick recap of the plot is enough to make that apparent: Hannibal, now escaped from prison and living in refuge in Florence, is tracked down by a greedy Italian fed for the reward (outbidding even the FBI) set up by a wealthy landowner, and former victim of Hannibal's, who wants personal revenge. This man, who tore off his own face at Hannibal's suggestion ("it seemed like a good idea at the time"), which was then fed to dogs, now wants to feed Hannibal to (trained) flesh-eating hogs for his own amusement. I am not making this up.

The character of Clarice Starling returns, now a fully fledged and experienced FBI Agent, though replacing Jodie Foster is Julianne Moore, for a slightly different take on the character. She gets shamed and driven to desperation by the hypocritical practices of the FBI, and is used as bait to lure out Hannibal. But the weirdness continues as it becomes more and more obvious that Hannibal is infatuated with Clarice, and there is a hint that Clarice may have some interest in reciprocating. I have heard that the ending to the book this film is based on is much different from how the movie ends. Weirder, but probably more appropriate, considering the direction the story has been going.

There are some good scenes in this movie, particularly the whole exciting part before Hannibal leaves Florence, but overall I don't think it has the charm of Silence, or the brilliance of Manhunter. Hannibal's character is still as creepily charismatic as ever, but he seems a little less terrifying than before - which is odd, because you'd think he'd be even scarier out of prison. But the story requires us to sympathize with him, even to the point of making him a victim (if not at all helpless) to the other villain, who is truly despicable (and boy does he get his comeuppance). But in the wake of previous greatness, I feel that Hannibal falls a little bit flat.

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