Hannibal: Special Edition

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

It has been a while since Dr. Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter made headlines, but he hasn’t been forgotten, at least not by everyone. Of course, special agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) remembers him, but someone else also does, but this person has a different perspective on the murderous Lecter. His name is Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) and ever since he met Hannibal, his life has been altered and not for the better. After the two had some drinks, Hannibal coaxed the drunk Verger into cutting off his own face, then feeding it to his dog. Ever since then, Verger has been a scarred mess and has wanted revenge, wanted it in the worst fashion. He has used his wealth to try to track Hannibal with minimal luck, but when he does find him, he has hideous plans for him, without a doubt. As Starling finds herself in another unneeded scandal, she is also interested in some activity in Europe, where it seems a police detective has become quite interested in Hannibal of late. As Starling, this police detective, and Verger’s men all seek out Hannibal, who will be able to find him and after that, who will survive his wrath?

This was a controversial sequel from the start, as several key players refused to return from The Silence of the Lambs, which doomed this film in some circles. But replacements were found and the film pushed ahead, ending up making a ton of box office cash and entertaining most folks, though some were still displeased. I can understand why some lament the loss of Jodie Foster, but Hannibal is still a wild and very enjoyable picture, if you ask me. Anthony Hopkins is in grand form, relishing his role from start to finish, with reckless abandon at times. The rest of the cast is also up to task, although I will admit, Julianne Moore is not as good as Starling, not by any means. But she is more than acceptable and Hannibal turned out very well, with some simply fantastic moments. Yes, there’s less suspense and such, but the film still has a wealth of tense moments, in addition to more Hannibal, which is what we all wanted. If you’re a fan of thrillers, then Hannibal is nothing short of a must see, without a doubt. And since MGM prepared a spectacular two disc release, this is without question, one of the finest releases of 2001, perhaps of all time.

Of course, the most memorable character here is Hannibal himself, played to sheer perfection by Anthony Hopkins. I do think he takes Hannibal in new directions here, but the material led him there and as such, no real complaints can be made. Hopkins seems to love his work here, as he is so alive within Hannibal here, it is almost scary at times. We see a more active and violent Hannibal here, as we see things only spoken about in The Silence of the Lambs, which can be good or bad, depending on the viewer. I think Hopkins is terrific here also, but his turn in The Silence of the Lambs was better, due to better material. You can also see Hopkins in such films as Howard’s End, Titus, The Edge, Nixon, and Surviving Picasso. The cast also includes Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights, Assassins), Ray Liotta (Unlawful Entry, Goodfellas), Frankie Faison (Down to Earth, The Stupids), and Gary Oldman (The Contender, Leon: The Professional).

Video: How does it look?

Hannibal is presented in a 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. This is a dark, visually complex picture, but this transfer never falters, even for a second. In one of the best transfer I’ve seen of late, the image here is fantastic and perhaps MGM’s finest work to date. The film’s intended visual scheme is retained and that has some impact on the elements, but it all looks just as it should, without a doubt. The colors look bold and rich, but never err, while flesh tones are natural all at times as well. Even the contrast here is razor sharp and flawless, which is stunning in this case, given the film’s layered shadow depth at times. This is one of the best transfers to come along in a while and as such, I am giving it the full score and trust me, it deserves that and more.

Audio: How does it sound?

Almost as impressive as the visuals is the audio presence, which is quite dynamic and immerses the viewer throughout. This release includes both Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 surround options, so both camps should be more than pleased. I found both tracks to be excellent and if I were pressed to choose the better, it would be the DTS choice, but not by much. The surrounds are used to effective ends all the time here, whether to add simple atmospheric effects or more impact oriented fare, it all sounds superb in these mixes. The bass is used often also, with powerful and very memorable results. The dialogue is never lost in all this action however, so all the vocals remains crisp and clean, with no errors to report. This release also includes audio options in Spanish and French, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, and French.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This double disc edition is packed to the brim with extras, such as an audio commentary with director Ridley Scott. As usual, Scott provides a talkative and very information session, with little deadwood present. Scott discusses his reasons for taking on the project, his feelings on the cast & crew, and various other topics. His comments are never overly promotional or bland and as such, this turns out to be a terrific audio commentary track. We’d all hear rumors of an extended cut of Hannibal and while Scott has decided against this notion, this release does house a number of deleted & extended sequences. Scott also provides optional commentary on these fourteen scenes, which include an alternate ending, which is cool to watch. Next up is Breaking the Silence, a behind the scenes documentary, which can be viewed as a whole, or in five smaller pieces. The total on this documentary is over an hour, which means tons of interviews, behind the scenes footage, special effects shots, and other hubbub have been packed in. This is a great documentary and is usually very informative, only becoming too promotional in a few places. This release also includes three multi-angle presentations, nineteen television spots, production stills, talent files, production notes, posters & artwork, and the film’s theatrical and teaser trailers.

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