Posts Tagged ‘Hannibal’

Hannibal Lecter was first let loose on the public in Thomas Harris’ 1981 novel Red Dragon. A murderous serial killer, a psychiatrist, an evil, yet, intellectual sophisticated charming man the who’s character has captivated readers and film goers for nearly thirty years . Although Anthony Hopkins was the second actor to portray the cannibal, his Hannibal was chosen by the American Film Institute a the number one movie villain and won  him many prestigious awards.
I’ve put together a collection of my thoughts and comments on all the films to date that have followed Hannibal escapades.
Sit back, eat your liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti, and take a trip through the world’s most prolific fictional serial killer.
Manhunter (1986)
In Silence of the Lambs, just like Manhunter’s plot (also based on a Thomas Harris novel) an FBI agent seeks help from the notorious serial killer Hannibal Lector to capture a psychopathic killer holding a girl captive.
Michael Mann’s Manhunter (based on Harris’ Red Dragon) is sadly a victim of it’s time, Mann’s ‘Miami Vice’ look aside, lack of socks, blue lighting and intrusive score etc. Manhunter oozes atmosphere. Will Graham is played by William Petersen who is a FBI specialist that must track down a serial killer, assisted by incarcerated Dr. Hannibal Lecktor.
Brian Cox’s Dr. Hannibal Lecktor is incomparable to Hopkins Award winning interpretation of Lecter/Lecktor as Cox plays the killer nonchalant and smart, his normality is what makes him menacing in this version.
William Petersen gives a fine telling performance, for example in the scene where he flees from the killers cell, it’s his reaction that show the intensity and power of Lecktor. Dennis Farina is on usual top form as Jack Crawford who’d later be portrayed by Scott Glenn and Harvey Keitel. Stephen Lang (of recent Avatar fame) is memorable as the hypocritical reporter and Tom Noonan’s rendition of Francis Dollarhyde is quite chilling with his voice, demeanour and stator.
The majority of Manhunter is filmed on location, adding a distinctive atmospheric and realistic feel. Regardless of the film suffering from some poor sound and editing Mann’s sleek direction is first-rate and although dated, a product of it’s time it is still an attention-grabbing and an entertaining thriller. New comers ought to watch this gem if only to draw comparisons to Red Dragon (2002).
Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Director Jonathan Demme’s 1991 award winner was a smash hit that almost catapulted Hopkins into typecast hell. Ted Tally screenplay is excellent and the dialogue superb, however, surprisingly both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins picked up best actor roles for their melodramatic performances.
Nevertheless, Hopkins commands every scene he’s in but really isn’t that creepy. Inexplicably Ted Levine was not nominated for his role as Jame ‘Buffalo Bill’ Gumb, which is simply psychotic and chilling. Scott Glenn given an understated performance and the supporting cast are familiar faces which includes Anthony Heald as Dr. Frederick Chilton and Charles Napier. There’s even walk-ons by Roger Corman, George A. Romero and singer Chris Isaak!
Demme won best picture for this solid thriller, the scenes lighting and sets are fantastic, including Lectors cell, temporary holding and Bill’s House. The locations are distinct and some credit must go to Tak Fujimoto’s photography for this. The final reel is amazing thanks to Craig McKay’s slick editing coupled with tension of Howard Shore score.
To Silence’s credit it sets the foundation for Hannibal and Red Dragon. It is indeed a solid crime yarn but is overrated and lacks the sophistication of it’s sequel and prequel.
Hannibal  (2001)
Ridley Scott oddly took the job to direct this perfectly crafted sequel to the Oscar award winning Silence of the Lambs. After being located in Florence, Hannibal returns to America and attempts to make contact with disgraced Agent Clarice Starling.
While not following Harris novel to the letter and omitting a main character, Scott directs an atmospheric follow up. With David Mamet’s meaty, intellectual screenplay there’s plenty to like about Hannibal. There are terrific performance’s nobility by Giancarlo Giannini in a subtle and memorable take on Insp. Renaldo Pazzi. Unrecognisable, Gary Oldman is astounding as Mason Verger, the heavy disfigured paedophile and Ray Liotta replaces Lamb’s Ron Vawter and is on form as a sleazy F.B.I Agent, Paul Krendle.
Nurse Barney returns in a larger role, and of course Anthony Hopkins is back in his iconic role as Hannibal Lecter. Hopkins is given more to do and is out of his confinement (much to the announce of some film critics). Although possibly striped of some mystic, Hannibal is far more dangerous and interesting here, mingling with the general public and stalking his prey. They only thing I feel is distracting is the casting of Julianne Moore as Starling, and that is only from a continuity point of view as she delivers a gifted performance.
Blade Runner’s director Scott makes every shot interesting and this coupled with John Mathieson cinematography is first-rate, particularly in the Florence set ups, and US exteriors. Veteran musician Hans Zimmer’s score is mystical and heightening all that is taking place on screen.
Overlooked, misunderstood and fantastic film, that is a wonderful experience to watch.
Red Dragon (2002)
Comedy director Bret Rattner gives us Red Dragon. Ex-FBI agent Will Graham is assigned to help track down a serial killer; with the aid of the notorious criminal genius Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter who he imprisoned.
Based on Thomas Harris novel inevitable comparisons between Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1986) are unavoidable due to the same source material- in essence it is a remake.
It is big budget event including an expensive supporting cast Emily Watson, Ralph Fiennes and Philip Seymour Hoffman to name a few. The usual provoking Edward Norton sadly gives a monotone performance as Will Graham and those who are familiar with Manhunter will be disappointed. Memorable Anthony Heald reprises his role as Dr. Frederick Chilton and Frankie Faisonis is once again Barney Matthews. Anthony Hopkins is back as Dr. Hannibal Lecter, set before Lamb’s and Ridley Scott’s Hannibal it’s an odd casting choice if only from an aesthetic point of view. becasuse of his age. Also as in the casting of Julianne Moore in Hannibal, Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford is peculiar from a link point of view as Scott Glenn was just as good. So there really was no need to have cast Hopkins as Lecter as continuity isn’t an issue here.
Danny Elfman’s score is surprisingly mediocre and uninspiring. Dante Spinotti’s cinematography is noteworthy and every scene looks great with some fantastic lighting especially when there’s a big set piece. Rattner’s film over all is fine looking, well constructed and is as well polished as most of the actors. Nevertheless, despite a great cast ensemble and a budget, Red Dragon lacks the on ominous edge of it predecessors.
To it’s credit it is worth watching if only for the opening scene and the joy of seeing Hopkins(albeit older)lurking in his (Silence of the Lambs) cell.
Hannibal Rising (2007)
Based on Thomas Harris’ intriguing novel, Hannibal Rising is an unnecessary prequel.
Where Brain Cox portrayal was forgotten, Hopkins made the character of Hannibal the Cannibal Lector his own topping the lists of fictional villains. The casting director and filmmaker’s fail to remember or ignored the publics love for Hopkins portrayal and overlooked that inevitable comparisons were going to be drawn. This hampers Gaspard Ulliel version of Hannibal Lecter from the outset.
As a stand lone film it is interesting watching a young Hannibal during World War II plotting revenge on those responsible for his sister’s death. However, Thomas Harris’ screenplay is clunky. With a slow build up to the first kill Peter Webber direction is acceptable but the film suffers from a low budget feel in places.
Brit actors Rhys Ifans, Richard Brake and the talented Kevin McKidd give notable performances. Sadly the whole film rests on Gaspard Ulliel and his Lecter and because of his mannerisms, accent and expression not emulating Hopkins it is difficult to connect with him.
Should a younger Hopkins had been mimicked, this could have spawned squeals. However, the producers tried to start with a clean slate but fall short as they set Ulliel has an impossible task of creating a young Hannibal rising that’s so detached from Hopkins. And while the character was still fresh in the views mind from Red Dragon (2002) Ulliel is just not exceptional enough to make that break.
A disappointing entry to a successful franchise that is entertaining as a standalone film.
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If history has taught us anything it’s that father of three director/ producer Ridley Scott knows how to make a gripping movie.

Self proclaimed perfectionist born in 1937 Tyne and Wear, nominated and winner of Numerous Oscars, Scott is now surprisingly in his 70’s.

Rid’ Scott started in the TV commercials and become known for his stunning visuals, weeping landscapes and backdrops, at times coupled with a close-up of a character’s face in foreground. Scott has an array of films under his belt covering many genres which include The Duellists (1977), Legend (1985), Black Hawk Down (2001), Hannibal (2001) and Body of Lies (2008) to name a few.

While not part of the 70’s 80’s Hollywood in-crowd like heavy weights Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola and Scorsese, Scott’s seems to be the dark horse, a British, dry, witty guy and above all intelligent with a good business sense who loves a good cigar.

He has personally brought me hours of entertainment and if you are reading this he’s probably captivated you too.

Below are my thoughts both good and bad on a fist full of Ridleys finest moments.

Kingdom of Heaven (2005)

Possibly one of Scotts most intricate and underrated films. Orlando Bloom plays Balian of Ibelin who after a committing a murder travels to Jerusalem during the crusades of the 12th century. Soon he finds himself defending the city and its people.

Kingdom of Heaven (Director's Cut) [Blu-ray]With a fine cast including the likes of Philip Glenister, Liam Neeson and David Thewlis to name a few it’s a casting directors dream. Marton Csokas performance as Marton Csokas is exceptional and Michael Sheen has a small part and pivotal part (especially in the directors cut). Eva Green, Jeremy Irons and an unrecognisable Edward Norton are a great support. However, Bloom desperately wrestles with the substantial script and size of the film appearing a little uncomfortable at times. That said, even though he is the main character, the story, really revolves around the other characters. Balian appears more as a narrative tool.

The locations are breathtaking, from the misty woods and shores of France – to Holy sites of Jerusalem. Again Ridley, incorporating amazing sets and utilising visual effects, production designer Arthur Max, set decorator Sonja Klaus and crew painstakingly recreate the period. Janty Yates costumes are fantastic. Weapons, flags and props look authentic, all this attention to detail coupled with Harry Gregson-Williams score and John Mathieson Cinematography give the film a wonderful look and atmosphere.

All in all, one, if not the best crusade film ever.

Alien (1979)

Space, spaceships, androids and aliens, and no it’s not Starwars or Startrek…

Alien (The Director's Cut)Alien is a perfect blend of characterisation, visual effects, sound and score. What separates this from the two franchises above is the gritty realism, a brooding atmospheric and claustrophobic feel that has given the film both cult and classic status. So much so it spawned its own franchise.

The acting is provided by a perfect heavy-weight cast that includes John Hurt, Sigourney Weaver and Tom Skerritt. Dan O’Bannon’s screen-play, coupled with Ridley Scott’s visuals stop this becoming just another monster alien movie or space film. The subject matter is delivered completely seriously and you become immersed in the dread, fear and uncertainty as even the main characters get killed off (which has become common place these days). Who will be the hero or the heroine?

H.R.Giger creature designs of the face huger and Alien is the ace in the hole and Jerry Goldsmith score mixed with the sound effects gives the film a nightmarish feel that build up the tension to breaking point. Scott’s direction is outstanding, creating the most fantastic and memorable moments in film history which push your fear threshold.

Compulsive viewing for Sci-fi fans who want story over action or in this case a steak to digest instead of fast food. If you’ve never seen Alien what it treat it will be to watch it fresh.

Blade Runner (1982)

I must admit I’m a huge fan of Ridley Scott’s and Blade Runner is one of his finest moments, panned by critics and by most on its release, it was ahead of its time on every level.

Blade Runner (Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]Whichever version of Blade Runner you prefer, it has atmosphere, great costumes and a mood of gritty realism about it. The neo-cityscapes, the dark street life and polluted air; all paint a grim futuristic picture complimented by a Vangelis score; which is touching and haunting. The lines are memorable and there are fantastic performances from Rutger Hauer, Sean Young and Edward James Olmos. Harrison Ford is perfect as the moody ex- Blade Runner and Joe Turkel should have won an award as the Frankenstein -like creator.

Blade Runner is quite a simplistic tale that is complicated by the fantastic visuals and effects. Lying beneath the plot that many writers contributed to, there’s heart and soul, questions of what it means to be human and even delves into our own mortality.

Its edgy hi-tech art-house that brings science fiction to life and while it’s not the most fulfilling sci-fi film it certainly is a fantastic visual experience.

American Gangster [Blu-ray]American Gangster (2007)

Consistent Ridley Scott recreates 1970s America in the true life story of Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington), a heroin kingpin from Manhattan. Russell Crowe plays Richie Roberts, an incorruptible detective, who works to bring down Lucas’s drug empire.

An interesting and contrasting character study on many levels, Russell Crowe performance is excellent, his personal life is in turmoil, yet he is totally focused on his work. Where as Washington’s character is in control of both his personal and ‘work’ life. Washington is on top form, equalling if not surpassing his Oscar winning performance in Training day (2001).

The costumes and makeup are excellent. The supporting actors give weight to the production and there are some memorable performances from Chiwetel Ejiofor, Josh Brolin and Ted Levine to name few.

I’ve seen both the theatrical version the 175 min extended version that includes approx. 19 minutes of additional footage. While the extra footage doesn’t jump out at you, the ending is notably different but just as captivating. For a lengthy film America Gangster zips along at a fast pace, accompanied by a great music soundtrack and a enhancing score by Marc Streitenfeld.

The 1970’s is painstakingly created with amazing realistic set design. Scott’s direction coupled with Harris Savides cinematography captures the feel and tone of the time. Scott not only recreates Manhattan but also Vietnam and the war is at it’s height. Credit deservedly should g to Steven Zaillian’s

A perfectly crafted film and gratifying cinema.

Robin Hood (2010)

I hold Ridley Scott in the highest regard, one of the most creative and demanding directors of his time. However, Robin Hood is an unequivocally unnecessary prelude to a timeless folk tale of a man who fights against the Norman invaders. The direction, subtle effects, locations and so on are remarkable and are what you would expect from the director of such films as Gladiator and The Kingdom of Heaven to name a few.

Robin Hood [Blu-ray]The cast is superb, a mix of old greats and new comers that include Max von Sydow, Cate Blanchett, Scott Grimes, William Hurt and Russell Crowe as Robin the legend himself. With a heavy laden script for the seemingly padded out story the high calibre actors’ graft their way through the latest incarnation of Robin Hood with ease. There are a few droll moments but the screenplay appears unsure if it wants to be another Disney, Costner Robin Hood or a serious war movie tackling issues of the time of corrupt politicians, generals and monarchy.

With an estimated budget of $200,000,000 and the acting talent and creative people behind Robin Hood, you’d thing Scott would have suited to tackling a period piece not centred around the rise of Robin Longstride. Due to this it leaves the viewer unsatisfied.

It’s a lengthy movie and there is much to enjoy, the score, performances, cinema photography, action scenes are admirable. However, as a Robin Hood film it’s a bit of a miss, and you can’t help feel that as the last reel runs that that’s where the story should have begun.

Gladiator (2000)

Despite it’s historical inaccuracies Gladiator without a doubt deserves it’s 5 Oscars. The story follows Maximus, a Roman general who’s family is murdered after he is betrayed and left for dead. While the story is echoes The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976), Gladiator revenge theme is far more ambitious and poignant.

Gladiator (Sapphire Series) [Blu-ray]Meticulous portraying the social and political issues of the time, proved director Ridley Scott united with David Franzoni story and screenplay single handily bring back the sword and sandal epic prompting a flurry of copycat films. The opening scene is astounding, the fights are incredibly choreographed, however, Gladiator is far from perfect, let down by a variety of CGI shots, the lack of grandeur that other epics have and several hollow palace scenes. That said, Lisa Gerrard and Hans Zimmer score is exciting, emotionally moving as much as the actor’s performances.

Thankfully, Mel Gibson turned down the part of Maximus that Russell Crowe portrays with such conviction and energy. Even though it was Oliver Reeds last great performance and one of Richard Harris finest, as Marcus Aurelius, the new comers hold their own and are just as effective. Juaquin Phoenix. Connie Nielsen, Derek Jacobi and supporting actors are perfectly cast. Aside from the magnificent sets and locations to the cast credit it’s the ability to render the viewers concern for these characters is what separates Gladiator from being an run of the mill flick.

It’s no masterpiece but far from a gladiatorial coup de grace. Scotts compelling Gladiator is impressive, moving and exciting.

Prometheus (2012)

The near future 2089 Earths historical artifact’s and ancient paintings prompt an expedition into space to find our makers but puts the crew of the Prometheus in grave danger when they land on LV-223 in 2093.

Veteran director Ridley Scott gives Prometheus its own unique look and rightly so as the action, suspense takes place on LV-223 not LV- 426 as in Alien(s). Without getting bogged down with Alien (2122A.D) comparisons, this is a science expedition not a mining vessel. This change in location allows Prometheus to sit as a stand alone film.

Questioning our origins in a reasonable intelligent way the story written by Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof is intriguing and makes this film stand above your average sci-fi. That said, Prometheus does raise more questions than it answers yet it’s ambiguity is what makes this film special and allows set-ups for future instalments.

It’s excellently cast and includes international actors Guy Pearce (who is sorely underused) Idris Elba as everyday man Janek and Logan Marshall-Green to name a few. Charlize Theron is astounding as Meredith Vickers, a hard nosed corporate mission director. Notably is Michael Fassbender as David who is every bit as interesting as Bishop and Ash with added a quirky ‘fondness’ for Peter O’Tool. Main protagonist Elizabeth Shaw played by Noomi Rapace is not your typical Ripley clone and carries much of the emotion for the film.

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The effects are first rate, with the Space Jockeys, scenery, ships and Aliens wonderfully realised and rendered. Some of the effects are practical and look organic for the most part. The location and environment feels real and makes everything more palatable. A nod should go to Dariusz Wolski’s cinematography and Pietro Scalia’s editing.

Scott delivers a few standout creepy scenes some particularly gut turning, notably the arm breaking, infection and decontamination scenes- it captures some xenomorph magic.

Marc Streitenfeld’s music score is an effective mixed bag although is a little over used. Both writers and Scott ensure to include a few character twists and wisely incorporate some elements from the Aliens series (in keeping with that world) whether it be a vehicle, a line or setup to possibly appease die-hard fans but for the most part it feels fresh.

Prometheus tackles themes of origin, mortality and biological warfare to name a few and although it feels a little rushed it’s a grower just like the spores themselves.