Is there a movie villain more deserving of limitless iconic praise than Dr. Hannibal Lecter? Well, that depends. If we only examine Anthony Hopkins’ performance as Hannibal the Cannibal in The Silence of the Lambs, then I think he ranks as high as any film villain out there. But is the character as strong in subsequent films? Allow me to thrill you with my acumen.
Former FBI profiler Will Graham (William Petersen) is approached to help track down a madman serial killer known as Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan). To do this, Graham must enlist the help of his archenemy, the man he finally got behind bars, Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox). (Note: The people responsible for Manhunter opted to change the spelling of Lector’s name here, for unknown reasons.)
Now, don’t let the name fool you, as Tooth Fairy, Tom Noonan gives one of the most chilling portrayals of a serial killer that I’ve ever seen. Similarly, Brian Cox’s straightforward interpretation of Lecter is the antithesis of Hopkins’ cold, shifty take. And to be honest, one isn’t necessarily better than the other, they’re just different. If you’ve seen Brett Ratner’s hugely inferior remake of this film, then you sadly know most of the semantics behind the plot. Either way, Manhunter is a phenomenal (and phenomenally underrated) suspense thriller. Not to be missed. A-
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
I’m of the school of thought that every single aspect of Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs bleeds perfection. From the acting, to the first person cinematography, hell, down to the font choice of the title credits – there is not a solitary thing about this film that doesn’t work effectively to propel its terror.
As Clarice Starling, Jodie Foster delivers as fine and vulnerable a contemporary acting performance as you’re likely to find. (Note: Is a film made in 1991 still considered contemporary?) And Hopkins, well, what more can I say? How about a stat. Anthony Hopkins is in The Silence of the Lambs for 16 minutes. That’s it. Sixteen minutes, a handful of icy monologues, an impeccable send-off, and a lifetime of infamy. His Lecter ranks with Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates as the most accomplished villain in cinema history. There’s nothing to not love about it, and the movie as a whole.
Mind the drawings, please. A+
Those who thought Hannibal wouldn’t work because Foster decided to not return were absolutely right. Sadly, that’s just one of the things that makes Ridley Scott’s film miss.
Well, maybe that’s a tad harsh. Much like Manhunter, Hannibal is just different. It’s much darker, much grislier and much sillier than The Silence of the Lambs. It’s nowhere near as accomplished as Demme’s film, but few thrillers are. Upon rewatching Hannibal for this post, I was completely infatuated with many aspects of it, including Hopkins’ visceral violence, Ray Liotta’s douchebag Justice Department officer, and, especially, Gary Oldman’s bathshit crazy mutilated billionaire.
So, while Hannibal isn’t a complete wash, the relationship it depends on most (that of Lecter and Clarice) simply does not work. I’m not going to blame Julianne Moore (because I never blame Julianne Moore), but something about their rat-a-tat never fully clicks. Oh well, at least the people involved clearly had a ball making it. B-
Red Dragon (2002)
Attempting to ride high off the coattails of Hannibal (which grossed a stunning $351 million worldwide), Red Dragon is a feeble attempt to capitalize off something that was already going down.
As mentioned, this film is a remake of Manhunter, and a faulty one at that. A shame, considering the heft of talent assembled in the cast, including Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mary-Louise Parker, and many more. Despite their efforts, the film’s weak script and often guideless direction turn this into a run of the mill thriller. Hopkins and Norton work well together, and Fiennes is a fantastic psychopath, but, much like Hannibal (but to an inferior degree) Red Dragon never fully hits. C-
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Shit, talk about capitalizing on something that’s going down (or is all but gone) Hannibal Rising is a complete waste of a film. Honestly, I hadn’t seen this movie before this post. And I can tell you now, that was for good reason.
Beginning in Nazi Lithuania, Hannibal Rising gives our beloved serial killer a motive. It explains (or, rather, attempts to explain) why he is the way he is, thereby completely taking the piss out of the man’s mystery. Part of what makes Hannibal Lecter so chilling is that he has no motivation. He’s intelligent, he’s charming, he’s cultured, and he likes to eat people. So be it. Hannibal Rising unconvincingly aims to give the man forced compassion. Please, for the love of God, stay as far away from this farce as you can. F
Hannibal (TV series, 2012)
According to NBC’s website, its new show Hannibal will “breathe new life into a deadly classic” this fall. The series stars Mads Mikkelsen as Lecter and Hugh Dancy as Will Graham, and chronicles their relationship before Graham eventually caught Lecter. I might give the pilot a go, but I’m seriously not expecting high acclaim here. You?
Halloween Horror Marathon Posts: