Hannibal (2001) — How did he make Jodi Foster turn into Julianne Moore?

“I’m giving serious thought… to eating your wife.”

Kyle’s rating: If you’re trying to impress, make sure they know you’ve got brains

Kyle’s review: Let me preface each and every one of my comments by saying I have never really read any of Thomas Harris’ books. I’ve kinda skimmed through at the store without paying for them, and once made a half-hearted attempt to check them out at the library (but they were all checked out… honest!). The film Silence of the Lambs was pretty cool and had some interesting story elements, so I always meant to actually read the book. But I never have, and probably never will. The moral here is books are the best but if you’re lazy then film adaptations will work just as well. What does this have to do with Hannibal? Not very much, I just want it clear that I had never read the book before I saw the movie.

Maybe this was for the best, because not knowing much about what was going to happen allowed me to really enjoy Hannibal. I don’t think I would want to watch it again, but not because I’m afraid of gore or anything; it’s just a very sprawling and slow movie. But I recommend it; it’s definitely worth seeing once. It’s not too gory and it’s not too scary, so don’t get discouraged or scared or anything. If you dug the interplay between Clarice Starling and Dr. Hannibal Lecter in Lambs, then you have to see it not because the interplay angle is played up again in Hannibal (it’s not) but to see how their characters have progressed following the events of Lambs. Plus, you have to see the crazy ending! I wasn’t too surprised or offended or disgusted at the climax, but it was pretty wacky and wild. Stuff you don’t normally see in movies happens, that’s for sure!

Basically, and stop reading if you haven’t seen Lambs and want to be surprised, Lecter escaped custody during Silence of the Lambs, and as Hannibal rolls around, it’s ten years later and Lecter is found in Florence, Italy, enjoying a free life as a museum curator. Yeah, Lecter is doing pretty well, but Clarice isn’t faring quite as well. Her career hasn’t had many highlights matching her triumph over Buffalo Bill (as seen in Lambs) and as the movie opens we see her current case kind of fall apart as she watches. Yep, she’s in deep doo-doo but fortunately she has “friends” in high places that don’t want to see her permanently disgraced just yet. See, she has some potential in her yet, not as a FBI agent but as bait to draw Lecter out of hiding for a revenge scheme. The only victim of Lecter that’s still alive wants revenge on the good doctor for the psychological punishment Lecter talked him into (ooh, wait till you see the makeup it takes to replicate a man who has cut his own face off!), and he thinks Clarice Starling is just the attraction needed to ensnare Lecter. What this victim plans to do with Lecter when he gets him is pretty insane, and the fact that it fits the tone of the movie speaks volumes about how twisted this movie really is. Will Clarice and Lecter meet once again, or will they only taunt each other via cell phones? Ah, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? See the movie, kiddo, and find out!

Like I said, this is definitely worth seeing once. It’s spooky, it’s engaging, and if Lecter was your favorite character from Lambs you’ll be satisfied by the attention he gets here. Julianne Moore does well as the replacement Clarice but this is truly Anthony Hopkins’ show as Hannibal Lecter rules the roost as the absolute baddest bad dude ever. You’ll be sitting in your seat entertained but desperately waiting for Clarice and Hannibal to first interact, and even though the previews kind of gave the moment away that scene still packs quite a punch. The audience I was with (and the theater was packed!) reacted enthusiastically twice, and the first set of groans and giggles came at this point. Impressive stuff, I must say! All the acting is pretty cool, but Moore and Hopkins are the best. Well, the guy (guess who he is!) who plays Lecter’s victim is really very good and despite being covered in incredible scar tissue makeup manages to be a effective presence, garnering our pity and revulsion at the same time. Good job, mystery actor! Also the pigs used as man-eating boars (you’ll see) did an excellent job! Good job, pigs!

I think I’ve said enough. If you haven’t been swayed to see Hannibal yet, I doubt you’re going anyway. The ending wasn’t too much to take for me, though I have been tainted by decades of horrible horror movies and watching those surgery shows where they cut out tumors and cancers and make dinosaur dioramas out of them. So maybe I’m the wrong person to ask. Okay, some of you are going to have to watch the last fifteen minutes of Hannibal through that viewing apparatus utilized to look at the sun during an eclipse, but don’t let that discourage you from checking Hannibal out. It’s a pretty suspenseful and unpredictable story, and while you may not remember anything other than those last fifteen minutes when you’re walking out of the theater, you’ll remember those last fifteen minutes for the rest of your life.

Didja notice?

  • In case you hadn’t heard, the movie’s ending was changed from the book’s ending for various reasons, though arguably the biggest reason was the book didn’t really allow for a sequel, whereas Hannibal leaves things pretty open for a return. I have to say the new ending was effective and out-of-left-field, and the Clarice-Lecter interaction was beautiful. And the thing with the handcuffs… whoa!
  • After the credits, we hear Lecter say “Ta ta, H.”, the closing line of the post-script in his letter to Clarice.
  • As the opening credits end, Hannibal’s face can be seen in the formation of pigeons on the ground before they fly away.
  • In his printed letter to Clarice, Hannibal signs off with “Regards, Hannibal Lecter, M.D.” In the voiceover, we hear, “Regards, your pal, Hannibal Lecter.”
  • Suspects are not removed from the FBI’s ten most wanted list until they are captured.

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