Newest Review: ... characters he comes across. Jodie Foster couldn't return as Starling, as she had just become a mother. So the role of Starling was r... more
A real let down
Member Name: Bryn Pearson
Date: 06/02/02, updated on 06/02/02 (35 review reads)
Advantages: fine if you want to be grimmed-out
Disadvantages: poor story, far too much shown, descends into cheap horror
After the pure genius of "The Silence of the lanbs" I thought a sequel would be impossible. When I heard that Ridley Scott was directing and that the wonderful gary Oldman was in it, I thought "This should be good." I paid my money, and off I went.
I trouble is, it's almost good, it flirts with being brilliant and then it transforms itself into a cheap horror movie. It was grim, lacking in style and just not up to speed.
Ok, for those of you new to this, Dr Hannibal Lecter is a canibal (with a name like Hannibal, what hope is there - it's that or elephants.....) he kills with style, he eats people's livers, but he'll cook them and serve them with a fine wine, he's scary, smooth, far too clever and stylish in a horrible sort of way. The first film sees him in top security prison, heping the FBI (Clariss Starling) track down a serial killer. At the end of the film he eascapes.
"Hannibal" picks up the plot about ten years later. Starling's career is on the rocks after a bungled job (which gives us a tedious introduction to the film) then a lead appears on the long absent Hannibal, and she's got prospects again. He's in Florence, being an art curator and a local detective is onto him. There's a long range manhunt, which is ok, and the Florence scenes are quite stylish - moody and very much what you might expect from a good director like Scott. There's suspense, edge of the seat moments, and a real sense of fear.
There's some gruesome yet oh so sophisticated murders, and Starling starts obsessing over Hannibal - tension is building and all looks good.
Now, thrown into this is the only victim of Hannibal's to survive - a chap called Verger Mason (Oldman) who has mutliated himself, under Hannibal's influence. He's also in a wheelchair. Complaint one - we see too much. The face Oldman wears is quite vile, but you gradually get used to it, which
isn't really very good for maintianing an atmosphere. Mason is an odious slimeball who wants revenge, and there's no liking him.
When the plot moves back to the USA things fall apart, with Mason rying to feed Hannibal to man eating pigs (I ask you) and some utterly gross and classless bits of violence.
I want to talk about what should have been in this film, that way you can draw conclusions about it without me giving the plot away.
There was a hint of sexual tension between Starling and Lecter a mutual obsession, and in many ways, a mutual need. They have started to define each other, and they are drawn together. The film starts to explore this with a fascinating rescue scene, but then throws it all to the wind and goes for the grim out horror. The psycology of the two main characters really isn't given enough time.
If the whole thing had stayed in Venice, it would have been a lot more cool - the backdrops suit Hannibal - sophisticated, eerie, arty, it had a good feel. Things in America fail to provide a good frame.
What about the acting? Julianne Moore just isn't Jodie Foster - it's not her fault, she's stepping into someone else's role, and script does little to help her make it her own. Anthony Hopkins is not as scary as he was in the first film - the poise and chill is gone, and he seems far less credible in most scenes. Oldman is doing a fine job, but is so repulsive that you just want the character to get killed. There's a real shortage of sympathetic figures, and the only really appealing one doesn't survive all that long.... Some of the bit parts are excellent, some are very wooden.
"The Silence of the Lambs" actually shows you very little - most of the horror is in the mind. Sadly, this film shows far too much, in much to much detail. Scott is usually far more subtle, so this perplexes me. Some of the scenes towards the end seeed like exersizes in indulg
ing the special effects people.
If you like grim horror where you get to see the body parts, then no doubt you will lvoe this. If you like your horror to have a certain class then give it a miss, it falls a lnog way short of the original and it does plumb th depths in places.