Hannibal-Creepy British Psychos Sell Tickets
Ridley Scott's Hannibal is centered on the premise that our favorite cannibal, Hannibal Lecter is being tracked down by a wealthy victim that escapes. Hannibal is more of what audiences loved in The Silence of the Lambs, namely a British actor doing what British actors do best, acting creepy and evil. This is why they make the best Nazi's, it is arguable that they are better at it these days than the Germans. But that is another story isn't it. Sir Anthony Hopkins seems as though he was born for the role of Lecter and once again slices through the films dialog with uniquely keen precision.
Hannibal is one of those films that audiences craved, more of that Silence of the Lambs goodness, more “it will put on the lotion,” more crazy British cannibals wearing psycho masks. What can you say, this film is chucked full of fun and then there are the pigs. In case you have not seen Hannibal, you're in for a treat.
David Mamet and Steven Zaillian are quite successful in adapting Thomas Harris' novel of the same name. The same foreboding tone that has made the novels so captivating for audiences has been translated well by Mamet and Zaillian.
Julianne Moore makes for a solid, but a bit uninspired Clarice Starling and Gary Oldman and Ray Liotta both turn in good performances. But all are overshadowed, as they should be, by Hannibal and Hopkins. It is Hopkins, more than any other single component of the film, that keeps the audience enthralled and hanging on every word.
Hannibal, like The Silence of the Lambs, is a great example of how a film can keep an audience completely engaged without the aid of runaway visual or special effects. As most movie goers will remember it is not uncommon to be in a movie and see people checking their watches to see what time it is. This did not happen with Hannibal, at least not at the screening I attended. Why? It is simple. Hannibal had already been established as one crazy, unpredictable and evil freak, who you never knew what he was going to do next. Did anyone go to the bathroom when Hopkins was on the screen? No, they waited until he was missing from a scene, and why? Because, no one wants to miss the crazy British psycho eating someones face or toes or the like. It is a bit of a sad commentary but Harris, Mamet, Zaillian and Scott and the executives that greenlighted the film all seem to understand what audiences want out of psychological horror films.
Deciphering the success of Hannibal isn't really rocket science. Hannibal is a long awaited sequel to a scary film and much like Se7en, The Silence of the Lambs left a lasting impact on audiences. To be all fancy pants about it, Hannibal Lecter left a resonance that lingered throughout pop culture and has become part of our common and collective pop culture references. Seriously, how does one forget Hannibal Lecter. That built in familiarity and a desire to see one of the screens basest and scariest creations brought back to life could only be a hit. With Hannibal, Scott and the studio knew they had the audience by the throat.
Story B+ (The script is good fun but doesn't live up to Silence of the Lamb.)
Acting B (Exceptional acting by Hopkins is one of the highlights of Hannibal.)
Enjoyability Grade B+
Home Theater/HD Factor B+
Overall Grade B+ (Hannibal is definitely one scary and disturbing film. Name recognition and the fact that Hannibal was a long awaited sequel made the success of this film all but predetermined.)