I know Jodie Foster's acting. And Julianne Moore is no Jodie Foster.
Moore, who may be right for some parts, is completely wrong for the
intelligent but vulnerable FBI Agent Clarice Starling in HANNIBAL, the much
anticipated sequel to THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. And without the right
casting for Agent Starling, the movie degenerates into little more than a
borefest, I mean gorefest. (Foster reportedly passed on the part because
she didn't think the high blood level of the screenplay was worth her time.
She was so right.)
Action director Ridley Scott (G.I. JANE) replaces the more thoughtful
Jonathan Demme, who besides THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is also known for such
pictures as PHILADELPHIA. You might expect Scott to be more dramatic, which
he is in sections. More often, however, HANNIBAL is paced so ploddingly
that viewers will spend more time bored than grossed out. They will rarely
be engrossed by the movie, which is quite tedious.
The basic plot this time has Dr. Hannibal Lecter abroad in Florence.
Anthony Hopkins has a high old time collecting a large paycheck to repeat
his role as a cannibal. Of course, without him the sequel probably would
have never been made. Too bad he didn't hold out for more money.
Those going in for blood and gore will not be disappointed, even if they do
have to endure long, dull periods between slicing and dicing. Intestines
fly, and worse, much worse.
Filthy rich Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), Hannibal's only living victim, wants
to find and kill him. (Agent Starling wants to find Hannibal, too, but
she's equally interested in protecting the butcher from Mason.) The camera
dwells on Mason's horribly disfigured face. Agent Starling doesn't mind
looking at it, but does look away when he mentions God, Mason notes. This
God angle turns out to be a cinematic dead end.
The script, based on Thomas Harris's novel, was worked on by the talented
David Mamet (THE WINSLOW BOY) and Steven Zaillian (SCHINDLER'S LIST), but
without much luck. Besides many logical problems, the dialog lacks almost
any comedic punch. About the only memorable line is that Hannibal likes to
"eat the rude."
"Everyone's going to be happy," Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta) tells Agent
Starling about her working again on the Hannibal Lecter case. "I'm not
happy!" she retorts. And neither will most viewers be, based on the
disgusted comments I heard going out of my packed screening. Finally, a
word of caution. If you've barely been able to stomach most of the movie,
leave before the last act, which becomes a bigger barfola than a ride on an
upside-down roller coaster after a greasy hamburger.
HANNIBAL runs a very long 2:11. It is rated R for strong gruesome violence,
some nudity and language and would be acceptable for high school seniors and
Copyright © 2001 Steve Rhodes