Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Film Review: Hannibal (2001)

Hannibal (Review)
United States/2001
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"In a way, Hannibal makes me appreciate The Silence of the Lambs much more..."

After a botched drug bust, FBI Agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) is reassigned to the Hannibal Lector (Anthony Hopkins) case, in which Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), Lector's only surviving victim, has a special interest. Lector reemerges and Starling races to capture him before Verger.

Hannibal is a crime thriller taking place 10 years after The Silence of the Lambs. The film focuses on both Starling and Verger as they try to track and capture Hannibal Lector, who has been "hibernating". There isn't much investigating, in fact, most of the film is simply waiting; waiting until something happens, reacting, then waiting -- the psychological depth is nonexistent. Instead, the story implements more straight-forward thrills and chills through its tense encounters and disturbing visuals. The ending is good, but it feels rushed and implausible.

The most negatively effective change in Hannibal is the change in Agent Starling -- both in character and actress. The change from a subtly developed, deep, powerful and independent character from Silence of the Lambs is changed to a very generic, hollow, tough "don't take nothing from no one" character for Hannibal is very disappointing. Her character is simply dislikable, annoying, and irritatingly cliché; the whole "I'll fight you without pads!", "I'm in charge;", "You'll know when I'm taking to you when I look at you!" persona is just so forced and pretentious -- it works better when it feels authentic and is developed properly. In fact, this change feels so radical, it would've been better to introduce a new character all together, at least if you're going to ignore consistency. This is based on character, though, Julian Moore's performance is also disappointing.

The story in Hannibal is hollow for a 2 hour feature. Like I said, not much is going on throughout the 2 hours. For a crime thriller, we never delve deep into the mind of the criminal; however, there are quite a few thrills to be had, and plenty of memorable deaths. I wish there was more investigation going on instead of the reactive approach, though; Agent Starling spends most of her time in a dark room contemplating about the past and waiting for information instead of investigating or progressing. As far as memorable, tense conversations, Hannibal is limited to very few. This is a film that'll likely be remembered for its violence rather than its story.

Julianne Moore's performance is mediocre, yet competent. I'm not a big fan of Jodie Foster's performance, but Moore makes me wish Foster stayed. Moore simply isn't consistent with her character, including her accent; and, much of her performance is overacted in what seems like an attempt to outperform Foster before her -- she fails to do so, though. Fortunately, Anthony Hopkins and Gary Oldman support the film greatly with their superb performances; Anthony Hopkins isn't as great as he was in Silence of the Lambs, but he performs well, regardless; Gary Oldman is particularly impressive with his performance, really taking on the character with a chilling persona. Ridley Scott's direction is great, as usual, but he needed a better, more fulfilling screenplay and a better lead to really match the previous installment.

Overall, Hannibal is an okay crime thriller. It features a hollow story, a weak lead, and an inflated runtime, but redeems itself with tense and violence plot points, two great supporting performances, great direction, and solid music. In a way, Hannibal makes me appreciate The Silence of the Lambs much more; and, Julianne Moore's performance makes me miss Jodie Foster.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and gore.

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