Friday, March 14, 2014

TV Review: Hannibal (Season 1)

Hannibal (Season 1) (Review)
United States/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Amazon Prime
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: Yes

"...the insanity was successfully transmitted to the audience."

Gifted criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is recruited by Special Agent-in-Charge Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) to investigate the disappearance of eight young girls. When Crawford worries for Graham during the investigation, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is recruited to aid and supervise Graham... unknowing of Lecter's own literal taste for blood...

The season continues to follow Graham, Lecter, and Crawford as they investigate other serial killers. Graham has a special gift of being able to recreate the design of the serial killers; he goes into the head of the serial killer, but also lets them into his own. Throughout every case, Lecter sees this as an opportunity to manipulate and push Graham, while using his deep insight to commit his own heinous murders. The cases this group investigates are mostly disturbing and unexpected, like turning victims into angels by tearing and hanging their backs from a ceiling or cutting a victim open while he is still awake and slowly pulling out his organs. It's a deep, psychological slow-burn leading to a great finale – devastating and chilling, and promising for the future of the series.

As far as specific episodes go, I though the first and second episodes were incredible – a great hook for the show. The season does slow down a bit during the third and fourth episodes, but they offered enough to keep me invested. Afterward, the show picks right up with a shocker, and continues to disturb the audience with the cases and the psychological aspects; the psyhocological aspects build-up well over time, as well, making it really effective. In fact, the psychological aspects are so well done, the grasp of reality felt distorted for both the characters on screen, and even as the audience – the insanity was successfully transmitted to the audience. (no, I'm not really crazy.) The fourth episode, titled “Œuf” was really the weakest link, in retrospect; it's an episode, or more like a case, that you'd expect from Law and Order – not something that's necessarily bad, but it felt out of place.

I liked the focus on character. Every character in the main cast gets fully developed over time, and it makes it much more effective show. In fact, the main cast was likable, in general. However, some characters, like Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), were written very stereotypically; she's a bland teenage character who's dialogue consist of: “I'm so different now, I'll never be the same. No one understands me. Like I'm so different, like OMG.” (that's not a literal translation or transcript, but you get it.) Also, you have Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki) the intrusive and obnoxious tabloid journalist; I mean, really, TV seems to make journalist the most annoying people on the planet.

The performances are excellent. Hugh Dancy is fantastic as the lead character. Laurence Fishburne is also great, especially when things get heated. Kacey Rohl was serviceable; her character may have been lazily written, and she has one of those cliché drug performances (you know, like when people act drunk and it's so cheesy), and she overacts quite a bit, but she's mostly serviceable. Lara Jean Chorostecki plays the sleazy journalist very well – the performance you love to hate. But, the real show stealer is Mads Mikkelsen who plays the titular character with fantastic charisma and charm – a more than worthy successor for Anthony Hopkins. Otherwise, the show is technically well made. The cinematography is fantastic, the music is ominous and creepy, and the writing is fresh and creative. It's better than most movies, nowadays.

Overall, I can't recommend Hannibal enough. Fans of the films will appreciate the psychological aspects the most; in fact, I think most audiences will love the psychological slow-burn in Hannibal. Fans of crime series, particularly those who can tolerate graphic violence, will find themselves entrenched in a fascinating and daring series. Definitely a must-watch show.

Score: 9/10
Parental Guide: Strong graphic violence and blood, and gore.

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