Manhunter: Restored Director’s Cut

January 28, 2012 8 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

The Tooth Fairy has started a trail of brutal murders, which doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. But not The Tooth Fairy of legend by any means, this is a vicious serial killer who earned that nickname, thanks to his tradition of leaving bites taken out of his victims. The agents working the case have no real leads, but they do know the killer works on a lunar cycle and unless they solve it soon, time may run out on their chances. So Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) turns to former agent Will Graham (William Petersen), who tracked down the most elusive serial killer of all time, Dr. Hannibal Lecktor (Brian Cox). But his experiences with Lecktor have left him in poor mental health, which makes the return to duty even harder. But in order to stop this madman, Graham agrees to handle the case and as his first matter of business, he visits Lecktor to ask for his assistance. As usual, Lecktor tries to enter into Graham’s mind and in his current state, Graham will have to hold strong to make it out without even more damage. Can Graham attain the needed information from Lecktor in time to end the killer’s rampage, or will Lecktor have his revenge on Graham after all?

As we all know, Manhunter was remade in recent times, as the less than impressive Red Dragon. Unlike that film however, Manhunter is a terrific movie and of course, contains the cinematic debut of Hannibal Lecter (spelled Lecktor here). I love The Silence of The Lambs and think it is the superior of these two films, but I think that is due to the performances, which overshadow the ones found here. Manhunter has the edge on most counts, but with Hopkins and Foster in such fine form, the final nod goes to The Silence of The Lambs. But this is still a powerful and effective motion picture, with solid performances and a very eerie atmosphere. Some aspects seem a little dated, but on the whole, Manhunter holds up well and still packs a lot of punch. From the excellent musical soundtrack to the offbeat photography to Mann’s stylish direction, all the pieces together very well here. I’ve always been a fan of serial killer movies and with so many bad ones out there, it is terrific to have one of the finest genre examples on our beloved format. I have some issues with how this all turned out, but if you’re a fan of Manhunter, then by all means, pick up this release. This new restored director’s cut offers the image quality we wanted in the first place, plus some nice new extras. So be sure to nab this brand new treatment, but if you’re a diehard fan of Manhunter, you’ll also want the normal theatrical cut of the film as well.

I like Anthony Hopkins and his turn as Hannibal Lecter, but I also have an appreciation for Brian Cox and his work here. Hopkins takes a much more powerful stance with the role, while Cox plays it with an overly calm and rational angle, both of which work out well. I won’t choose a better from the two, as both men approach the role from different sides, so to compare them would be like comparing apples and oranges. Cox is very good here though, even with limited screen time he is able to make a lasting impression on the viewers. He might not be a high profile performer, but once again, Cox proves he is a formidable actor. Other films with Cox include For Love of The Game, The Long Kiss Goodnight, The Minus Man, Chain Reaction, and Rushmore. The rest of the cast is also impressive and includes Joan Allen (Pleasantville, The Contender), Dennis Farina (Saving Private Ryan, Snatch), Kim Greist (Houseguest, Brazil), Tom Noonan (Last Action Hero, Easy Money), and William L. Petersen (The Skulls, Fear). At the helm of Manhunter is Michael Mann, who also directed such pictures as The Last of The Mohicans, Heat, The Insider, Thief, and The Keep.

Video: How does it look?

Manhunter is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. In the Limited Edition release, this director’s cut looked miserable and of course, fans were quite let down. So Anchor Bay has revisited Manhunter and under the supervision of director Michael Mann, created this brand new restored presentation. The result is a splendid visual treatment, one that even looks superior to the theatrical cut’s transfer. The print is very clean, with only a few minor nicks and such to mention, while grain is minimal at worst. I found colors to be bold and rich, which is excellent news, since this movie is very 80s in terms of color scheme. No troubles with contrast either, as detail is high at all times and black levels look crisp and refined. This is the version of Manhunter fans have waited for, as this is the best the film has ever looked on home video.

Audio: How does it sound?

As was the case with the Limited Edition, we’re given a 2.0 surround mix, which doesn’t quite measure up in the end. I had hoped for a new 5.1 mix for this special new release, but no such luck. I found this to be a good track, but it lacks some of the fullness of the theatrical edition’s audio presentation. There is still a very rich texture, especially for a 2.0 surround track, but it just doesn’t have the extra kick. But the music sounds good, sound effects are distinct, and the dialogue is sharp and easy to understand. It isn’t as immersive as the theatrical version, but I don’t think there’s enough difference to warrant many complaints.

Supplements: What are the extras?

This disc also includes stills from deleted & extended scenes, production stills, poster & ad artwork, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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