Let’s just get started with the fact that I hated the book Hannibal by Thomas Harris. I loved the first two Hannibal Lecter books (Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs), but the last in the trilogy was complete utter garbage. So, you can expect that I went into the movie Hannibal as a skeptic that it would actually be a decent movie.
The movie Hannibal follows the title character. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) has escape and has been living in Italy for a few years. He comes out of hiding when he sees his favourite F.B.I. agent Clarice Starling (new to the role Julianne Moore) in distress after a botched undercover operation. Hannibal’s only surviving victim (played as creepy as it gets by Gary Oldman) wants to feed Hannibal to some wild boars. An Italian cop (Giancarlo Giannini) wants to capture Hannibal himself. And then there’s Ray Liotta in a juicy (might I say tasty?) role as Paul Krendel a higher-up who wants to bring down Starling.
Whereas the brilliant Silence of the Lambs gets into your mind and makes you think of all the creepy things that Lecter could have done, Hannibal goes all out and shows it to you. Now, I’m in the camp that thinks that to really get scared a director and writer needs to make the audience think that they saw something and not show it to them – the audience is more scared when their imaginations have gone wild thinking about what it is that is scary. Ridley Scott coming off his high of Gladiator seems to think differently. Hannibal is as gory as it comes and, well, it comes off as just gratuitous.
What are the high points of the film? Ridley Scott for all I disagree with his showing of the gore does shoot the film wonderfully. Scott creates a great atmosphere for the film. Sir Anthony Hopkins is still great (and creepy) as Hannibal Lecter. Hopkins is probably the best reason for going to see Hannibal.
Low points of the film include the weak script that is slow at the begining (though it does pick up later on in the film) and Julianne Moore. I think Moore is a wonderful actress, but her performance in Hannibal is flat and, frankly, quite boring. Part of the blame can be put on the script which doesn’t give her much to do, but it doesn’t look like she’s trying too hard at the role either.
In the end Hannibal is not worth going to the theatre to see. In general movies always tend to be a little worse than the book and Hannibal follows in this tradition. So, as you can see, I hate the book and because the film is worse, I hate the film even more. What a waste of the good talents of Scott, Hopkins, and Moore.