Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hannibal Lecter Collection, The [DVD - Region 1]

Yes, he's back ... and he's still hungry. Hannibal is set 10 years after The Silence of the Lambs, as Dr Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins, reprising his Oscar-winning role) is living the good life in Italy, studying art and sipping espresso. FBI agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore, replacing Jodie Foster), on the other hand, hasn't had it so good--an outsider from the start, she's now a quiet, moody loner who doesn't play bureaucratic games and suffers for it. 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 and A. Little does Clarice realise that the hideously deformed Verger--who, upon suggestion from Dr Lecter, peeled off his own face--is using her as bait to lure Dr Lecter out of hiding, quite certain he'll capture the good doctor.
Taking the basic plot contraptions from Thomas 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 gives the film a sleek, almost European look that lets you know that, unlike the first film (which was about the quintessentially American Clarice), this movie is all Hannibal. Does it work? Yes--but only up to a point. Scott adeptly sets up an atmosphere of foreboding, but it's all a build-up to the anticlimax, as Verger's plot for abducting Hannibal (and feeding him to man-eating wild boars) doesn't really deliver the requisite visceral thrills, and the much-ballyhooed climatic dinner sequence between Clarice, Dr Lecter and a third, unlucky guest 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 of the Lambs so amazing was their interaction. When they do connect it's quite thrilling but it's unfortunately too little too late. --Mark Englehart, Amazon.com
On the DVD: The good-looking widescreen (1.85:1) anamorphic print is accompanied by a directorial commentary on the first disc. Ridley Scott is no stranger to DVD commentaries by now, and keeps up a pretty constant flow of enjoyable story exposition, although provides few specifics about the actual filmmaking process. He's obviously more than happy to talk about this movie, since on the second disc there are also "Ridleygram" interviews with Scott about the process of storyboarding and a huge chunk of deleted or alternate scenes (including the alternate ending) with optional directorial commentary. There's a wealth of other extras to dip into, including five "making-of" featurettes (73 minutes in all), plus two multi-angle "vignettes" of the film's opening sequences (the fish-market shoot-out and opening titles), and a marketing gallery of trailers, stills and artwork. Surround-sound enthusiasts can select either Dolby 5.1 or DTS soundtracks for the main feature. --Mark Walker

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