So. I just watched Hannibal, the sequel to the Silence of the Lambs. Let me preface this by saying that I truly enjoyed the Silence of the Lambs. I enjoyed the plot as well as the performances of Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins was a fabulous Lecter; he was sophisticated, witty, and, quite frankly, badass. There was nothing in Silence of the Lambs that was unnecessarily gruesome; everything was very artistically well done. Needless to say, my expectations for Hannibal were high. I sat down to watch the movie with excitement, and was, quite sadly, disappointed.
To those unfamiliar with the story, it takes place ten years after Silence of the Lambs. Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore), who had originally worked indirectly with Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) to solve the case of Jame Gumb, was unjustly blamed for a failure of a drug bust. However, because Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), a wealthy pedophile and Lecter’s only survivor, pulled a few strings, Starling got placed back onto tracking Lecter. Lecter, who has been in “retirement” and in hiding in Florence for the past few years, realizes that Starling has been assigned to find him and therefore rekindles contact with her. It then becomes a chase as to who will catch Lecter faster: Starling or Verger, who wishes to catch Lecter and torture him to death.
So where did Hannibal fall short. I could say everywhere, but that might be unfair. Anthony Hopkins was still a brilliant Lecter. He was just purely reptilian, and I mean that positively. His acting just seemed very spot on; it was as unpredictable and unreadable as Lecter should have been. There was no extra syllable or movement that might give away any more emotion or incentive than was necessary. At this moment, I just feel like I’m rambling about how awesome Hopkins was, so moving on to the next point.
I really like Julianne Moore and I’ve sincerely enjoyed a lot of her work (Far From Heaven, The Hours, A Single Man, The Kids Are Alright, Crazy, Stupid Love, etc.), but I just couldn’t palette her Clarice Starling. It felt more rigid and aggressive than Jodie Foster’s performance. While I enjoyed every time Hopkins was on the screen, I felt more irritated than sympathetic when she was. One of my favorite aspects of the original was the conversation between Starling and Lecter; I enjoyed seeing the direction their relationship went, and how it evolved overtime. There was no dialogue in Hannibal; most of the dialogue was actually just from the previous movie; we just kept hearing repetitions of things we had already heard before, of stages we had already experienced. Finally, at the end of the movie, when they had their chance to talk to each other, it was…painful, for lack of a better expression. There was no flow, no connection between Starling and Lecter, as if those ten years apart hadn’t manifested itself into anything. It was as painful to watch as the horribly unnecessary and gruesome incision into Paul Krendler’s (Ray Liotta) skull and brain.
That was another element of this movie that bothered me. It felt more gruesome for the sake of being gruesome. Not that there wasn’t a fair share of blood in the first one, but it felt more sophisticated; it felt more in place with the dialogue of the movie–the everlasting dialogue between Starling and Lecter. Lastly, the antagonist was just weird. If you strip it to its bones, the movie would have no plot if the deformed Verger had no desire to chase down Lecter. The plot of this entire movie rested on the shoulders of ridiculous and moronic man, who had bred wild boars purely for the sake of torturing Lecter. A bit absurd. In the first movie, the criminal, Jame Gumb, was more realistic and frightening to behold, as compared to Verger. However, the antagonist in the first movie…wasn’t really Gumb. He was just a foil to enhance and define Starling’s and Lector’s respective characters, and their relationship with each other. The antagonist for Lector was the confines of his cell that bounded him and restricted his interactions with other humans to being purely psychological, not physical (depriving him of the warmth of flesh). For Starling, it was the maddening desire to silence the screams of the innocent lambs.
Was it the change of director, the change of Starling, or the change in antagonist? I don’t really know. If Hannibal was detached from Silence of the Lambs, then it would be an okay movie. But as a sequel, it really disappoints; Silence of the Lambs was a really good movie. Hannibal just left me unsatisfied and craving some more for the old.