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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

Hannibal: he’s back and hungry

Anthony Hopkins returns as Dr. Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter in Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, and he’s full of wonderful one-liners to complement our favorites from The Silence of the Lambs.Remember the infectious “A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”?

In Hannibal, after one character mentions her desire to travel to New England, Lecter replies with a grin and “Yes, I’ve enjoyed many excellent meals there.”

Clever, right? Where would we be without such fresh adages? Nowhere, actually, because that’s what makes Lecter the cannibalistic psychopath we all love.

The problem is that Hannibal is no different from Silence. Everything, in fact, is the same: Dr. Lecter kills, eats, and slips effortlessly from the grasp of police as he eases his way around Florence. But worst (or best) of all, the script spoon-feeds us one-liner after one-liner, each one trying so desperately, but failing, to send that needed shiver down our spine.

Instead, in Hannibal, we just chuckle at the silly double-entendres, which are at times too smart for their own good; the script often overuses academic references that you’d only catch by actually reading the Thomas Harris novel it’s based on.

The story does do well to capture the interest of the viewer, which can be credited to the subtlety of Scott’s direction. As soon as the film begins, we forget how much is actually going on to create the appearance that it’s actually a good movie.

The camera moves as it did in Scott’s Gladiator: fast when fast is needed, slow when Lecter needs to demonstrate his ferocity. With vivid reds and deep blues, the color of blood draws a fine contrast to the pale skin of the cast and faded buildings of Florence.

The music of Hans Zimmer also blends in effortlessly, with even a hint of A Clockwork Orange Rossini during one or two bloody attacks.
Jonathan Demme, who directed The Silence of the Lambs, chose not to take on this sequel because of its excessively gruesome nature. And gruesome it is! Scott doesn’t hold back; this film is not for the faint of stomach. There are no cut-aways when someone is about to become dinner for one. The producers spared no expense for fake slit throats. And boy do those intestines look yummy. But this is no ‘B’ horror flick; it’s all done in relative good taste.

Jodie Foster, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her role in Silence as Clarice Starling — the courageous, rookie FBI agent — declined a spot in Hannibal. Julianne Moore, a perfectly able-bodied actress, replaces Foster, but it simply isn’t the same. (This film is set 10 years after Silence, and was appropriately released 10 years after. Do the math: that would make Starling 10 years older. Problem: Moore, in fact, looks younger than Foster did in Silence.)

After every turn the film takes without Starling, we expect Foster’s introspective styling and her Southern drawl to turn up to save the day. It doesn’t, and Moore’s harmless non-acting merely suffices. She unintentionally stifles the prospects of a grand FBI agent/mastermind criminal psychological thriller.

Any worth of Hannibal rests on the back of Hopkins, who from the get-go scares the hell out of everyone by flashing the most evil smile in the business as often as the script allows. Without Hopkins, the movie would nearly sink to that dreaded ‘B’ status.

So, stay for the whole thing. The movie is mostly bearable, but the ending makes it all worthwhile. The script serves up a never-done-before surprise that is worth seeing if only for the spectacle of it all. Don’t forget your appetite, and don’t forget the Chianti.

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