Why it's better
It would be unfair & kinda pretentious for someone to express disapproval in "overusing" Lecter as a character. Sure, he was kinda the Shark in Lambs; most frightening in quick bursts of screen time. So, in a book/film named for him, we can only hope for a kinda superabundance in all things Hannibal. & we maybe kinda sorta more or less do. Most of what we get from him is through character interaction -- glazed with tension, only cause we've already seen Lambs. There are few surprises as to what Lecter's 'world' would be like: lotsa classical music & European settings(!) But what does make it interesting are the characters that inhabit it: sleazy cops & a wealthy disfigured vigilante turn Lecter into the protagonist of a true-to-school horror movie. No kidding! Who wouldn't love that?!

Why it's worse
Yes, it is necessary to compare it to its predecessor(s) -- and not in a George Lucas "they've already made up their minds" kinda way. I crave a good sequel.
However, apart from Tony Hopkins playing Hannibal Lecter, it ain't no kinda sequel. There's nothing wrong with a change of pace & scenery. But, perhaps one of the most personally painful gaffes in film history is the absence of Jonathan & Jodie. Even - EVEN - if the movie had sucked, it would have been indescribably rad to have the three of them together. I really don't like Ridley Scott, & while Julianne Moore is my favorite actress, this was the weakest performance of her entire career (& that does not derive from my desire to see Jodie Foster in the part). Additionally, I would also choose Ted Tally over Mamet & Zaillian - just for the symmetry of it (and also the fact that polishing each other's scripts only resulted in one shiny writing credit).
So, Ridley's stylized-opera directing & Julianne's stoic acting & forced atmosphere & predictable set pieces are why it's worse.
That, plus, I'm comparing it to Silence of the Lambs.

"Nobody beats the Ris."


Anonymous said...

I'm of the camp that believes Manhunter is the best of the Lecter movies by far, and that Brian Cox was much more nuanced and chilling Hannibal than Anthony Hopkins. Take away Jodie Foster and Jonathan Demme, and what you're left with is a pantomime. It's rather like Jack Sparrow; it's one of Depp's worst performances but because the movies are so bad and the rest of the cast is so wooden, he gets away with it. Hannibal and Red Dragon are embarrassing.

Tyler Foster said...

kingdomofdoom, I might suggest that your opinion has been somewhat biased by the sequels. Hopkins' performance as Lecter gets mildly awful by the time Red Dragon rolls around; if you didn't like his acting much in Silence of the Lambs, then each successive sequel would only have cemented your opinion in a way that wouldn't have happened without them. But that's just from reading one comment on a blog and not knowing anything else about how you watched them, so that's almost pure speculation.

I think the thing that's missing in Hannibal is a good villain. Lecter isn't the villain in Lambs, nor is he in Hannibal, but Mason Verger isn't as intimidating as Buffalo Bill. I also agree that the movie would have been much more interesting with Jodie Foster, and that the script is lacking in places. It is a stunningly beautiful-looking film, though.

Anonymous said...

It's possible that had Hannibal and Red Dragon never happened I would be more favorable towards Hopkins. Don't get me wrong, he's not bad exactly in Silence of the Lambs, I just don't think he's great and I do think it's a case of the director making it work. But back to the Jack Sparrow analogy: Had Johnny Depp only done it once, it would've been forgivable. But two more times with another one in pre-production is just too much.

joeymauro said...

I've never seen any of the sequels to Silence of the Lambs (With the exception of Manhunter, but that's not a sequel, so I just sound like an idiot) and the reason is the same reason I really don't want to see 2010...I'm afraid it may take away from the original film. Silence of the Lambs is easily one of my all time favorite films and what I'm afraid of is seeing sequels/remake that get a bad rap, because the next time I watch the original I will have a whole new history to the series that I don't like. (Case in point Halloween 6-Rob Zombie's Halloween 2)

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