Hannibal Lecter is back and up to his old shenanigans. Anthony Hopkins, returning to his Oscar-winning role, is by far the best part of “Hannibal.” Hopkins adds the right amount of sincerity, poise, and of course, savageness to make Dr. Lector one of the most complex and compelling movie characters of our time. There are moments when you really aren”t sure if you”re rooting for or against him.

Paul Wong
Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) is a tough bitch who always gets her man.<br><br>Courtesy of Universal Pictures

“Hannibal” takes place ten years after its predecessor, “Silence of the Lambs.” Dr. Lecter is still out on the loose, now roaming around Florence, Italy. Clarice Starling, no longer the budding insecure FBI agent, is now a more confidant but slightly embittered woman. When an assignment goes wrong and Starling is the only one left to take the fall, her position at the FBI is on shaky ground. After a mysterious lead to Hannibal”s whereabouts from the disfigured billionaire (who is also the sole surviving victim of Lecter), Clarice is put back on the case and the hunt begins.

Those who have read Thomas Harris” “Hannibal,” will find that the movie stays fairly true to the book, with a slight modification towards the end (although not slight enough for my taste). There is a lot of information that is crammed into Hannibal”s 130 minute running time, yet the movie still drags from time to time.

For me, the best part of “Silence of the Lambs” was the witty repartee between Dr. Lecter and Starling, which is lacking in the sequel. Sometimes I got the sense that “Hannibal” missed it too because the film rushes through necessary plot points in order to quickly reach the inevitable reunion between Clarice and Hannibal. Of course Hopkins” character dominates whenever onscreen, but he really shines when he has someone there to parallel him. He just wasn”t given much time with an equal in “Hannibal,” which was truly unfortunate.

Julianne Moore, who replaced Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling, was overall pretty good. Especially good if you consider the difficult situation she came into, being that Foster was simply perfect for the role. It seemed that at times Moore was trying to do her best Jodie Foster imitation, and that was frustrating. I guess that is the problem in doing a sequel with different casting.

The movie was beautiful to watch. A great majority of “Hannibal” was filmed in Italy with magnificent sunsets as the major backdrop along with operatic music filling in for the background noise. Director Ridley Scott (“Alien” and “Gladiator”) does a nice job of putting in simple yet elegant touches to “Hannibal,” which add quite a bit to the whole aura of the film.

A major downfall of “Hannibal,” however is the gore. I know that this is somewhat hard to avoid in a movie revolving around a cannibal, but quite frankly most of the worst scenes were unnecessarily bloody, disgusting and detracted quite a bit from my overall enjoyment of the movie. By the time “Hannibal” hits its absurd climactic ending you don”t know whether you want to laugh or throw up.

I believe that many of the movie”s worst scenes could have been so much more effective if they had simply used the audience”s power of imagination a little more, and their sense of vision a lot less. What little faith the film industry must have in us if they think we cannot imagine something ten times worse than a movie could ever show, especially one with an “R” rating.

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