THE HANNIBAL LECTER COLLECTION...
Reviewed by: Andre Manseau
Micheal Mann, Jonathan Demme, Ridley Scott
What's it about
The Hannibal Lecter collection is comprised of 3 films: Manhunter, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. Manhunter is the original Lecter story without all of the hoopla or any of the cast we've come to know, Silence of the Lambs is the Oscar-winning blockbuster that begat the sequel, Hannibal. Missing from this collection is Red Dragon (likely because Manhunter tells the same story).
Is it good movie?
I think it's worth noting that this little collection is a bit of a cash grab, and is also a tad bit misleading. The actor people associate with Lecter is Anthony Hopkins, and it's very strange to see that this is marketed as the “Hannibal Lecter collection” with his mug on the front of it when Hopkins wasn't even in Manhunter. If Red Dragon never existed, then I would shut my yap. With that said, it did exist, so why not toss that version here? That isn't to say that Manhunter is lousy, because it's not- but I bet some people will be pissed that Manhunter has taken Red Dragon's place.
Manhunter: I've always wanted to see this movie but this viewing was actually my first time, and let me tell you I enjoyed it. Despite the argument that this film shouldn't be included in the collection, it is definitely worth watching and is easily a great little companion piece to the box set. If you've seen Red Dragon, it's nothing but a slick rip-off of this film (although it could be argued that they're both novel adaptations).
Michael Mann directed this one, and it seems to show because this one isn't quite as much of a Lecter flick as it is a more of a cops and robbers film. Brian Cox does a good job with his interpretation of Lecter (although it's Lecktor in this one), and the style seems to work for the script. The best marks go to Tom Noonan, whose portrayal of Dollarhyde is both chilling and realistic, and Joan Allen's Reba McClane, the blind love interest. Noonan is easily the standout here, as his character is a psychopath, struggling for a last grasp at a normal life. You'll also notice some great cinematography here, with wonderful camera angles and great colors. My only real complaint is William Petersen's portrayal of Will Graham (coming off a bit too broad for my taste) and the awful 80's Miami Vice score.
Silence of the Lambs: A movie that made horror 'cool' again, Silence of the Lambs still holds up quite well today as a masterful potboiler of a drama. The casting of Jodie Foster (who I think is tremendously overrated) and Hopkins is a master stroke, as these two carry the film completely. Starling's young, naïve, determined and fallible, while Lecter seems to be toying with her all along in an effort to eventually get what he wants. Many, many words have been wrtten about Hopkins' incredible performance and they ring true. The man doesn't even blink throughout the film! Also worth mentioning is Ted Levine, who is the 'true' villain Clarice is after. His scenes are chilling and effective.
I know I could go on and on and on about how fantastic this film is, but it's nothing you don't already know. There are so many memorable scenes and setpieces- the butterflies, the cell, the mask, the museum scenes, buffalo Bill, etc. This movie has become a part of horror zeitgeist from the 90s and rightfully so. It's tense, creepy, well acted, beautifully directed by Jonathan Demme, and completely believable. You'll laugh, you'll scream and you might even cry. And not only that, you'll be able to feel the relationship between Starling and Lecter, who are constantly playing cat and mouse with one another. This is easily the best disc in the set, but I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.
Hannibal: I'm so disappointed to finally admit after all these years that this movie sort of eats butt. Here's the problem- I read the book first. Now, I'm not going to do the whole 'the movie sucks because of the book' thing. The issue is that I loved the book so much that I was blind to see how lame the movie really was and I filled in all of the cracks myself with what I knew from the book.
Now, I don't hate the movie..as I said before, I always liked it. The thing about it is that it's a narrative mess, running about all over the place and it never really settles on a tone that works. There's a lot of problems with the casting. First, this movie should never have been made without Jodie Foster, and Julianne Moore was not the best replacement. This was a fatal flaw and she's just not up to the task, despite being a capable actress. Also, Ray Liotta is awful as FBI agent Krendler, a real ham.
I like some things about this movie. It's cool that Hannibal's on the lam and Hopkins is up to the task here without a doubt. His dialogue is great and without him, the film would be nothing. I also thought that Gary Oldman's Mason verger character was really well done, but you don't see enough of him. Conversely though, the whole bounty hunter thing to make Lecter a hero comes off poorly and is really badly transferred from the book. I also liked the european opera scenes that took place, although they just seemed like an excuse to have Lecter kill people in a faraway land.
When this movie finally ends, it does so with a whimper and with one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes I've seen in awhile. It plays like a fart in church and people really remember that scene for all the worst reasons.
Ultimately, this movie comes off like a strange art flick attempt to keep Hannibal's legacy alive and it doesn't work well. I'll always enjoy it for what it is, but it is definitely full of problems and only weakens the series.
Video / Audio
Video for all three films comes in 1.85:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p) widescreen, and quality increases with each film.
Audio features DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio, and again gets better as the films progress.
You only get extras for Silence of the Lambs, they're almost all on the DVD released a few years ago, and here they be:
First up is Inside the Labyrinth, an awesome hour long documentary about the birth of this film from script to screen.
Next is Scoring the Silence, a little piece featuring spotlighting composer Howard Shore. The man deserves some credit so this piece belongs here without a doubt.
There's also a 42-minute tv special called From Page to Screen which focuses on the process of transforming the novel into a screenplay.
There's also a few deleted scenes and a trailer, and you have the ability to watch things in a picture-in-picture format.
This set is great, but lacking in extras. If you find it cheap, you should absolutely pick it up just to see these flicks in HD. If you're a big fan, you'll probably already have it but for me it was a dealbreaker to see that they didn't put any real work into the supplemental material for these discs.