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Click above to purchase "Hannibal Special Edition" at amazon.com

 

Hannibal
Special Edition

review by Zach B.

 

Rated R

Studio: MGM

Running Time: 131 minutes

Starring Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Frankie R. Faison, Giancarlo Gianni, Francesca Neri

Screenplay by David Mamet and Steve Zallian
Based on the book by Thomas Harris

Directed by Ridley Scott

Retail Price: $29.98

Features:
Disc 1 - Audio Commentary with Director/Producer Ridley Scott, "The Silence Of The Lambs" DVD Trailer, Windtalkers Teaser Trailer

Disc 2 - "Breaking The Silence": The Making Of Hannibal, Multi-Angle Vignettes, Deleted and Alternate Scenes with Optional Commentary, Cast and Crew Bios, Production Notes, Poster Concepts, Photo Gallery, TV Spots, Theatrical Teaser, Theatrical Trailer

Specs: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 Dolby Digital, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English Closed Captions, English Subtitles, French Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Scene Selections (32 Scenes), Two-Disc Set

Truly one of the most anticipated sequels (yes and no according to Ridley Scott, more on that later) of all time, "Hannibal" was put into limbo for a little bit before smashing box office records when it was released during February 2001. The anticipation began when the next installment of the series of books by Thomas Harris that involved Hannibal, also named "Hannibal" came out. The book met with mixed and some disgusted reviews. The rights for the film were quickly snapped up, and production was on its way... sort-of. While Hopkins did want to return (and with a payday for 20 million), Jodie Foster declined and instead, Julianne Moore took the part of Clarice Starling. Ridley Scott also took over directing duties from Jonathan Demme. Filming began in Italy and soon enough, as I mentioned, it became a big hit for MGM. But how does "Hannibal" stack up when compared to the classic "The Silence Of The Lambs"? Let's see...

The next installment finds Clarice Starling tens years after the events in "The Silence Of The Lambs" as she is caught in the middle of a lot as an FBI agent. Meanwhile, an old victim of Hannibal's Mason Verger, is seeking revenge. He hopes to trap Hannibal and do something hideous to him (I won't reveal it here, but even if you haven't seen the movie you most likely heard from somewhere else), but with this, Hannibal, Verger and Starling all intertwine, not to mention some other characters as well as our favorite cannibal comes out of hiding.

"Hannibal" is no "The Silence Of The Lambs", and people have and will continue to make their comparisons, but the real fact is despite returning characters, they really are different kind of movies. The underlying themes are different as well as the whole styles. Ridley Scott, a great director, helms this installment with a unique look and feel to it. Sure the Harris novels always have a dark feel and texture to them, but while Demme made "Silence" creepy and Mann made "Manhunter" deathly, here Scott makes "Hannibal" really dark and that I really liked. Yet the key difference of "The Silence Of The Lambs" and "Hannibal" is how they are set up and how things are conveyed. "Silence" was more psychological here and mindset, while "Hannibal" tries to do that, but overall comes off more like a Hollywood thriller. Not that that's a bad thing, but people expected something like "Silence" when it should have been clear to them they weren't getting that. Nothing will live up to "Silence" ever, but I was not expecting "Hannibal" too. As Ridley Scott says himself, it's really a different kind of movie.

This movie is really technically polished, as you may come to expect from Scott. His transistions are fantastic, his visuals are deeply amazing and the camera shots are glorious. He really gives this movie a dark edge and the result soars. It really impressed me. Scott brings back long time editor Pietro Scalia to edit the movie, and the editing in this movie is really fantastic. We see what we're supposed to see and get a good view of all the action. All of it works nicely, especially the exchanges people have with our favorite cannibal. On another note, Hans Zimmer creates yet another mesmerizing and memorable score that fits really well into the movie.

And now for the acting. It's pretty damn good, but it lacks the psychological side and creepiness "The Silence Of The Lambs" had. Hopkins is great once again as Hannibal, but his performance seems a bit different. It lacks the psyhcological creepiness "Silence" had, but it's a bit more intense. While I prefer his performance in "Silence" better, Hopkins does a fine job here once again, bringing Hannibal to life. Still, keep in mind time has taken its toll. It's just different as it is a different movie. Julianne Moore takes over the role of Clarice Starling. I think Moore's a great actress, and here she does a good job with the role. However, I prefer Foster as Starling. Sure Moore gets a good accent and mannerisims, but I felt Foster was a bit softer and more vulnerable in the role. Still, Moore's performance is very good and I'm not complaining. Besides, people see this movie for Hannibal, not Starling. Though I can see people feeling akward about the switch, no one really seemed to mind or care when the movie came out. Ray Liotta is good in his smaller role as well as Frankie Faison. I also enjoyed Italian actor Giancarlo Gianni, but I think an uncredited Gary Oldman takes the cake as Mason Verger. A bit more creepier than Hannibal, if I say so myself.

My main problem with "Hannibal" was the script. While I didn't read the novel itself, I've heard a lot about it and how it compares to the movie. It seems some characters were cut out and the interesting ending was changed. Zallian and Mamet, two incredible writers, serve this adapation with good dialogue and a nice flow that moves along, but the scenes that occur are like blurs. It's like hit and miss. Some of them work and serve the story, others come and don't add so much. My main problem was how uneven the script is and how it lacked key development in a lot of places. Something just felt missing. Not much extra is added on to the characters Hannibal and Starling, and I felt there could have been more between them. There's not too much to Ray Liotta's character, and while I liked Gary Oldman's Mason Verger and felt he came into play nicely, I didn't see so much of a point to a lot of the other supporting characters. There just seemed to be a lack of tension and buildup between the major characters. Also, the "new" ending is rather lackluster. I felt the new ending also lacked the tension and it just didn't feel right, it went too easily and quickly. The ending has two parts, and they didn't go well together or seperatley for that matter. Hannibal confrontations could have been a bit more thoughtful, and the confrontations lack the chills that "The Silence of The Lambs" had. There really could have been more to Clarice and Hannibal as well. Overall, I found this script very disappointing considering Mamet and Zallian are great writers. It feels like they were trying to search through the material seperatley, not really knowing what was going on and then merging their stuff together. Too bad Ted Tally didn't want to do the adaption. Nothing is really memorable out of this story.

"Hannibal" is different from "The Silence Of The Lambs", and while it can be a considered a sequel, it should not be compared to "Silence" in most areas since they both are really different kinds of films from two different, respected filmmakers. While people love Hannibal and probably won't care about the story's overall dynamics, this is a disappointment. The directing is good, the acting is good but the adapation just doesn't add up and in the end, that's what really kills "Hannibal" since it lacks mindset and development. Still, if you liked "Silence", you'll probably still see this one. You may like it, you may not. To me, I think it could have been a bit better. And this isn't the last we've heard of "Hannibal"... "Red Dragon" is being remade into a movie and is to be helmed by Brett Ratner. But Tally is adapating that one. Just pray it will be good (I think "Manhunter" is a bit hard to beat myself).

"Hannibal" is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen, and the end result is really terrific. Colors and fleshtones look accurate and are well saturated, while black levels are right on target. Detail is very good too. The exterior shots of Italy look lovely and the interior shots often have their darker, grim look as that's how it's supposed to be. There is some shimmering in the movie in some scenes, but overall, not much. There is some grain, and blemishes as well as dirt do pop up here and there. Overall, this is one sharp transfer and one of MGM's best for sure.

MGM has given "Hannibal" some prime, beefed-up audio that sounds incredible. English, French and Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are included, plus an English 5.1 DTS track. The Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks are really neck and neck with the DTS, so it won't really matter which one you do choose and each will provide one mesmerizing listening experience. This movie features its fair share of surrounds and they sound really crisp and clear. The fish market scene at the start out of the film gives the speakers a good workout, plus the boars toward the end of the movie. Also, a key scene with Clarice and Hannibal builds a nice atmosphere, as does Italy itself. Hans Zimmer's sounds wonderful on the tracks too. Overall, the Dolby Digital and DTS really bring this film to life and puts you right in it, it really makes you feel like you're caught in the middle of things usually. It's quite active too with great dynamic range and fidelity. In the end though, DTS wins this battle as I felt it was a bit more sharp in some areas. Still, MGM has created some amazing mixes. English closed captions, English subtitles, French subtitles and Spanish subtitles are also included.

Woohoo! MGM has delivered a sweet two-disc set for "Hannibal", and it's a worthy special edition that fans of the movie are going to love. Let's start with the first disc. We have an Audio Commentary with Director/Co-Producer Ridley Scott. I'm glad Scott is always willing to provide a commentary and add more to the supplements on DVD releases, as he is a big supporter of the format. He has a big passion for his work, so I'm glad he's willing to share his experiences and give more to the DVD experience. This is another great and worthwhile track from Scott as there are no real gaps in silences and he offers a lot of insight about making the movie. He talks about adapting the book, the cast, character motives, shooting sequences to make them seem original and a whole lot of other stuff. He has a nice voice and this is another fine commentary from Scott that fans of the movie won't want to miss it, or film lovers in general as it is one of the best tracks I have heard in a long while. It's really interesting and there's a lot of great stuff to absorb here, I liked it a lot. He's never dull and offers a lot of insights. The commentary is even chapter indexed for easy reference, a nice touch from MGM if I say so myself.

Disc one ends with a full frame The Silence Of The Lambs DVD Trailer (come on, you gotta promote that too) as well as a Windtalkers Teaser Trailer in non-anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound.

Disc two now... Breaking The Silence: The Making Of Hannibal is a documentary divided into parts. However, you can watch all of it together. The total comes to a little over an hour and sixteen minutes. The parts include clips from the movie, still photos, behind the scenes footage and whole slew of stuff, not to mention the extensive interviews on and off the set with Anthony Hopkins, Dino and Martha De Laurentiis, Ridley Scott, Hans Zimmer, Gary Oldman, Julianne Moore and a whole lot more from the production. This documentary pulls no punches and isn't fluffy or promotional at all. What I liked so much about it how honest it was, it really pulls no punches. It covers so many aspects of the production, not to mention how detailed it is. It's very even and all of it works together well. It's really stylish and well done, so don't miss it. Truly one of the best documentaries I've seen on DVD in awhile, if not ever. The five parts of the documentary are "Development", "Production" (which has some footage of the famed Italy press conference), "Special Make-Up Effects", "Music and "Reaction", so again, don't miss this.

There are three Multi-Angle Vignettes on the second disc. The "Anatomy Of A Shoot-Out" has a text introduction, and even offers some cinemaic terms to learn. This vignette has the shoot-out scene in non-anamorphic-widescreen, and you can switch between four cameras to see the shot. Overall, it works really well and is very cool if you ask me. There'a also an angle to see all four at once, where each angle is divided into little boxes. Very tasteful. The next vignette, "Ridleygrams", also has a text intro which explains that "Ridleygrams" are his own storybards. Seeing them, Scott does an impressive job. Basically, you can check out "Ridleygrams" in three ways: the Ridley Scott interview where little boxes pop up to show the storyboards and the storyboard/shot comparison, just the storyboards with the narration from the interview and the narration from the interview with the storyboard/shot comparison. Also nicely done. Finally, we have the "Title Design" which has a slew of options to go through. There's another text introduction, plus four angles to go through: "Final Title Design", "Original Teaser Cut", "Shooting Pigeons" and "Nick Livesey's Notebook", plus four audio options: "Final Theatrical Mix", "Original Theatrical Mix", a commentary with Nick Livesey and a commetary with Ridley Scott. As you can see, there's a lot to hear and see with the title design, and truly a load of insight to gain. You may have to watch this more than once to get all the information and take it all in. Have fun!

There is a whole section for Deleted and Alternate Scenes, all of which last a bit over thirty-five minutes and in non-anamorphic widescreen. There are fourteen of these days, not to mention that they look really complete. As expected, Ridley Scott offers optional commetary with these and gives his thoughts. You can see why they were cut, but he offers some good explanations. Also, the "alternate ending" isn't a major deal. It's pretty similar to the one in the theatrical cut, but there are a few extensions and slight changes. Overall, I prefered the theatrical version. Each scene, when highlighted, also offer a quick summary.

The Marketing Gallery section features a LOAD of Still Photos from the production and the film. You can view em all, or have them broken down in section for you. There are "Cast Portraits", "Fish Market", "FBI", "Flashbacks", "Barney's Apartment", "Florence - Part I', "La Vita Nuova", "Florence - Part II", "Virginia", "Union Station", "Verger Estate", "Krendler's Cottage", "Airplane", "Deleted Scenes", "Behind The Scenes", "Special Make-Up Effects" and "Florence Press Conference" PHEW!

Also in the Marketing Gallery there are quite a few Poster Concepts, which you can also see together or in their seperate sections: "New Wave Entertainment", "71 Design Team", "Nick Livesy" and "Final Key Art"

Finally in the Marketing Gallery, there is the Theatrical Teaser in non-anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound, the Theatrical Trailer in non-anamorphic widescreen and two channel sound as well, plus nineteen (!) TV Spots. Go nuts with those.

Finally, there are extensive Cast and Crew Bios that have filmographies (and a lot of the crew too), plus a load of Production Notes lifted from the theatrical press kit. Also, something that I found puzzling is in the DVD's insert. Ridley Scott writes some very good notes, but what I found interesting is how he considers "Hannibal" a stand alone film in the first paragraph, but in the third, he talks about the challanges of making a sequel. Hmm, a little contradicting there?

While in the end this movie is a bit of a disappointment to me, MGM has served up a great edition of "Hannibal" with a stunning anamorphic widescreen transfer, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS tracks as well as some in-depth extras that are really great. Overall, this is a DVD set that should not be missed and fans of the movie will love. Bon appetit...

(3/5 - NOT included in final score)

(4.5/5)

(4.5/5)

(4/5)

(4/5, NOT an average)

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