The F*cking Black Sheep: Hannibal (2001)

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 isn’t 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 Oldman’s 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 didn’t 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 wasn’t 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 isn’t 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 that’s true. He was much more frightening behind the cage, wondering what sort shit he’d do if he got out. But shit. Who cares. It’s Hannibal Lecter played by Hopkins. What’s 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. It’d 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 I’m wrong. The new dude on the NBC show is pretty good. Anyway, Moore does her best. She doesn’t have the innocence of Foster, but then again, her character isn’t a kid anymore. He’s gritty and tough, though the chemistry with Hopkins isn’t as strong.

Then there’s everyone else. Gary Oldman, well, he doesn’t do much really but speak from a wheelchair, but it really demonstrates his power as an actor. He’s damn fantastic in that voice he created. As for Ray Liotta, well, he plays an asshole. He’s good, but they could have given him a little more depth. His character is so unlikable that it’s bad writing is so obvious. But if anything is off on Hannibal, it’s Ridley Scott, who tried to carry over his Gladiator style to this film. His choices at times don’t 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 ain’t perfect, but it’s a good time for everyone…minus poor Liotta.





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