Friday, September 10, 2010

Hannibal Lector

I've had all of this week off of work and have partially been enjoying the time off by watching a lot of movies. One of those was Silence of the Lambs and after seeing it I immediately added Hannibal to the top of my queue as well. I had seen Red Dragon when it was in theaters, and probably at least once more since then, largely due to Edward Norton.

I don't have any good reason for taking so long to see Silence of the Lambs. Perhaps since it has become so iconic and regarded as a classic, I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype. I've always loved a good psychological thriller, and this one certainly didn't disappoint. It's not a movie I can really dissect in any way because it kept me too wrapped up on the edge of my seat to really stop and think. Jodie Foster does a great job portraying Clarice as both young and innocent as well as strong and determined. You feel for her throughout the movie, and you can also understand her fascination with Lector. Anthony Hopkins plays him perfectly. Chilling and disturbing, yet also somehow likable. He belongs on the list of iconic movie monsters along with Freddie and Jason, made all the more chilling by how real he could be.

I think that's why Hannibal feels a bit wrong to me. In both SotL and Red Dragon, Lector was intelligent and cunning, always a step or two ahead of the characters in the film, but in a believable way. You expect someone with such an intimate knowledge of psychology to be able to predict the motives of others the way he does. However in Hannibal, I felt like the suspension of disbelief was being stretched way too far. He always knows the motives of every character he needs to until it's necessary for him to be caught. It all runs a little too smoothly. At the end of SotL I was shocked and upset that Lector got free. At the end of Hannibal I expected it because he had gotten away with so much already, it wouldn't have made any sense for him to be caught.

Julian Moore does a good job of slipping into Clarice's shoes. She's not as sympathetic a character in this movie, but I think that's logical. Ten years have passed and we can't expect her to be the same character she once was.

I don't think there's a single Gary Oldman performance I've seen and disliked, so it's really no surprise I enjoyed his Mason Verger. The makeup was also fantastic, as I felt repulsed almost every time I saw his character on screen. I thought the man eating pigs were a bit much though. It felt like something a cheesy Bond villain would do. I also felt the idea of Lector convincing him to cut his face off was severely unbelievable, but I suppose the drug he gave him made him susceptible to suggestion.

Really, I could run down the entire list of actors and characters involved in this series, because they're all pretty fascinating. Serial killers and victims alike. Overall it leaves me with the impression that I need to read the Thomas Harris novels.

Anyone out there seen Hannibal Rising? I seem to recall the response being pretty negative and I'm not sure if I should give that one a shot. I figure I will see Manhunter eventually, though I know that one was a bit different.

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