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The F*cking Black Sheep: Hannibal (2001)

Apr. 11, 2013by: Ryan Doom

THE BLACK SHEEP is an ongoing column featuring different takes on films that either the writer HATED, but that the majority of film fans LOVED, or that the writer LOVED, but that most others LOATH. We're hoping this column will promote constructive and geek fueled discussion. Dig in!

Hannibal (2001)
Directed by Ridley Scott

A bloody horror epic that spans countries, involves pigs, and has a lot of really, really really hurt feelings.

You have to admit, it takes balls to make a sequel to some movies. While no one really cares if a Battleship sequel ever sees production, people did care when a decade after Silence of the Lambs, the good doctor returned for yet another playful romp about cannibalism, cooking, and the fine arts. If you create a sequel to a classic, it better be damn good. Hannibal isnt up to the quality of Silence of the Lambs, but hell, what is? Instead, Scott delivers a bloody horror epic that spans countries, involves pigs, and has a lot of really, really really hurt feelings (see Gary Oldmans character).

When I first caught Hannibal in theaters way back when, I was just as much as a critical dick as the next guy. The Silence of the Lambs is one the greatest modern horror movies, one of the few flicks that somehow exceeded the normal constraints of the genre and was, well, just generally badass. It created poetic violence and had creates who were utterly fascinating. At first, the sequel didnt sound too hot when news broke that Jodie Foster and director Jonathan Demme would not return. However, the addition of Julianne Moore, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman, and once again hot as balls director Ridley Scott (this was his follow up to Gladiator) seemed to make up for it. While I wasnt exactly wowed by it when back in 01, time has been kind to it. Hannibal is bloodier than just about any horror movie that I can recall, even though it takes about an hour and twenty to see the doctor finally get down to action and be himself.

Now to continual to compare Hannibal to Silence of the Lambs just isnt fair, and thankfully, Hannibal now has the advantage of being over a decade old flick. But then again, its obviously Hopkins still as the star. Dude brings elegance to such a nasty role. Oh, sure, Hopkins is older here, a little softer looking, but who the hell cares. He damn good even if one of the biggest bitches about the film was the fact that the monster had escaped, left free to roam the countryside to slaughter and boil up any poor sucker he could find. And thats true. He was much more frightening behind the cage, wondering what sort shit hed do if he got out. But shit. Who cares. Its Hannibal Lecter played by Hopkins. Whats not to enjoy?

With Jodie Foster ditching the role that defined her career, Julianne Moore more or less did a thankless gig, a no win situation. Itd be like if Hopkins had decided against it but Foster returned. As much as I dig Tim Roth (who was rumored as a replacement), it would have never worked. Hell, maybe Im wrong. The new dude on the NBC show is pretty good. Anyway, Moore does her best. She doesnt have the innocence of Foster, but then again, her character isnt a kid anymore. Hes gritty and tough, though the chemistry with Hopkins isnt as strong.

Then theres everyone else. Gary Oldman, well, he doesnt do much really but speak from a wheelchair, but it really demonstrates his power as an actor. Hes damn fantastic in that voice he created. As for Ray Liotta, well, he plays an asshole. Hes good, but they could have given him a little more depth. His character is so unlikable that its bad writing is so obvious. But if anything is off on Hannibal, its Ridley Scott, who tried to carry over his Gladiator style to this film. His choices at times dont seem to fit the story and he uses hyper-slow-mo thing when moments get tense. Its annoying and dates the film.

In the end, things get a little silly with the whole brain sequence (minus the That smells great! line), but I always enjoyed the ending, giving yet another hope that the doctor is out there yet again. Hannibal aint perfect, but its a good time for everyoneminus poor Liotta.

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12:20PM on 04/12/2013

Fair Enough

I still hold that the film's biggest problem is that it's boring. All of the right pieces are in place and it has the potential to be one hell of a sequel. And yet it feels bogged down by soggy exposition at every corner. Julianne Moore does a great job filling Jodie Foster's shoes and I dug how the film delved into the twisted relationship between Starling and Lecter. It just drags. As good as the policeman does, his subplot doesn't need to exist. And Gary Oldman fucking kills it.

So yeah,
I still hold that the film's biggest problem is that it's boring. All of the right pieces are in place and it has the potential to be one hell of a sequel. And yet it feels bogged down by soggy exposition at every corner. Julianne Moore does a great job filling Jodie Foster's shoes and I dug how the film delved into the twisted relationship between Starling and Lecter. It just drags. As good as the policeman does, his subplot doesn't need to exist. And Gary Oldman fucking kills it.

So yeah, I still hold that it isn't a bad movie just a really big missed opportunity.
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3:59PM on 04/11/2013
Revisited it a couple of times and it is still boring to me. The book was great but they simplified so much of it for the movie that it had very little depth. Verger's death was really built up with his sister (who wasn't in the movie at all) and with Barney (who was barely in the movie at all) ! Hannibal just threw out the idea to Verger's assistant out of nowhere and he just threw Verger to the boars! That's just one example! I know all the things from a book can't translate to a movie but
Revisited it a couple of times and it is still boring to me. The book was great but they simplified so much of it for the movie that it had very little depth. Verger's death was really built up with his sister (who wasn't in the movie at all) and with Barney (who was barely in the movie at all) ! Hannibal just threw out the idea to Verger's assistant out of nowhere and he just threw Verger to the boars! That's just one example! I know all the things from a book can't translate to a movie but come on! And Hannibal would NEVER cut off his own hand if he had the choice to cut off someone else's (no matter who it is... unless it's his departed sister) Overall, the tone was just bad and even worse DULL.
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2:54PM on 04/11/2013

Def worth another view people...

Each film is their own beast...
I agree with Elder that I enjoyed the Rome portion more, but still enjoyed the entire film. I enjoyed all 3 Hopkins films in the series. The NBC series has promise as long as they DO NOT try to tie it into any of the Hopkins films. Leave it be as its own thing.
Each film is their own beast...
I agree with Elder that I enjoyed the Rome portion more, but still enjoyed the entire film. I enjoyed all 3 Hopkins films in the series. The NBC series has promise as long as they DO NOT try to tie it into any of the Hopkins films. Leave it be as its own thing.
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1:55PM on 04/11/2013
Julianne Moore was good but nothing compared to the powerhouse role of Foster. The crux for not liking the story for me is this: SotL was just a little graphic in it's horrors, it was very suggestive, and left stuff to the imagination. Hannibal went all out, guts falling out of someonse belly, face eating by a bore, and of course the brain eating in the end. It left nothing to the imagination. Hannibal was in it's nature a totally different animal the n Silence. Hannibal went for the short
Julianne Moore was good but nothing compared to the powerhouse role of Foster. The crux for not liking the story for me is this: SotL was just a little graphic in it's horrors, it was very suggestive, and left stuff to the imagination. Hannibal went all out, guts falling out of someonse belly, face eating by a bore, and of course the brain eating in the end. It left nothing to the imagination. Hannibal was in it's nature a totally different animal the n Silence. Hannibal went for the short approach, of cheap thrills, while Silence constructed a story based on pure psychology, and by way of dialogue, lighting (remember seeing Starling standing in the red light while watching a photo that supposably shows a gruesome scene? You don't see the picture, but you're mind is filling in the blanks, with a little help from that red ligtht ), Directing (Hannibal breaking the fourth wall speaking directly to the camera and the audience) , and camera shots (In the one and only little more graphic scene of this movie, Hannibal attacks the prison guard, and bites his face. The camera is positioned right behind the prison guards head, so you don't actually the real gory part. Anthony Hopkins could as well have french kissed the guard, and it would have practicly looked the same) The Silence of the Lambs is an absolute masterpiece, to some of us even the best movie ever made, Hannibal was only a little enjoyable, cheap thrill ride.
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12:58PM on 04/11/2013
Julianne Moore was every bit as strong as Starling as Foster was, albeit in a different way, in a different film, in a different story. It worked. "Hannibal" is an excellent film.
Julianne Moore was every bit as strong as Starling as Foster was, albeit in a different way, in a different film, in a different story. It worked. "Hannibal" is an excellent film.
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8:49AM on 04/11/2013
Here's the way I see it. After the story left Rome, the movie went to shit. That being because Giancarlo Giannini played the most interesting role in the film as the Italian detective on Lecter's trail. This was such an interesting part of the story and I didn't care at all that Clarice was barely part of the plot at this point. Then afterwards it just gets silly and as much as I love Gary Oldman, that Mason Verger character was awful. Then you add in how much they try to make Clarice's
Here's the way I see it. After the story left Rome, the movie went to shit. That being because Giancarlo Giannini played the most interesting role in the film as the Italian detective on Lecter's trail. This was such an interesting part of the story and I didn't care at all that Clarice was barely part of the plot at this point. Then afterwards it just gets silly and as much as I love Gary Oldman, that Mason Verger character was awful. Then you add in how much they try to make Clarice's character more sexual then she was in LAMBS and while I love Julianne, she can't hold a candle to Ms. Foster. You're right that it was a no-win scenario for her as the part belonged and always will belong to Jodie.

If the movie had been on its own, I would have liked it more but compared to LAMBS and RED DRAGON, it's pretty awful. Even Lecter's character was handled very poorly with him making many bad decisions that were against character and much more. Overall, not a fan but that's just me.
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