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movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Hannibal

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore
Director: Ridley Scott
Rated: R
RunTime: 131 Minutes
Release Date: February 2001
Genres: Horror, Suspense

*Also starring: Gary Oldman, Ray Liotta, Diane Baker, Giancarlo Giannini, Francesca Neri, Ivano Marescotti, Boyd Kestner

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Review by Susan Granger
3 stars out of 4

Terrifying, tantalizing Hannibal Lechter is ba-a-a-ck! In this long-awaited sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991), Anthony Hopkins reprises his Oscar-winning role of Hannibal the Cannibal. "I have been in a state of hibernation for some time," he explains. His portrayal is brilliant, capturing the diabolical doctor's subversive charm and baroque wit, particularly as he's about to dissect another victim. In this alibi-ridden world, perhaps what makes this sociopathic serial killer so appealing is that he never makes excuses for his evil behavior or his gruesome gourmet palate with a decided preference for "free-range rude." Instead, he exudes a scary integrity, augmented by director Ridley Scott's penchant for grisly, highly stylized pieces of violence that reach operatic extremes, even though the plot is a bit confusing.

Julianne Moore replaces Jodie Foster as the courageous, incorruptible FBI agent Clarice Starling with whom Hannibal is infatuated. An unrecognizable Gary Oldman plays the hideously deformed, malevolent pedophile, Mason Verger, whose face was devoured by dogs. Plus, there's Ray Liotta as a slimy, corrupt Justice Department official and Giancarlo Giannini as the avaricious Italian detective on Lechter's trail in Florence with beautiful Francesca Neri as his wife. Frankie R. Faison reprises Lechter's former hospital orderly, Barney. At the request of the film-makers, I will not reveal the conclusion to this disturbing, often sadistic, thriller except to say that screenwriters David Mamet and Steve Zaillian contribute their own cinematic twist which may surprise even those who have read Thomas Harris's novel. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Hannibal" is a scary, suspenseful 7 - and this scalpel slicing is definitely not for the squeamish.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION: "The Silence of the Lambs" won five Oscars, one of only three films to sweep Best Picture, Director, Actress, Actor and Screenplay - and made more than $130 million at the box-office. And "Hannibal" is actually Thomas Harris's third novel featuring the fearsome Lechter, who made his first appearance in "Red Dragon" (1981), which became the movie "Manhunter" (1986). For those who are curious how an Orion Pictures release wound up as a MGM/Universal release, it's because, when Orion folded, MGM bought it s library which included "Silence." Meanwhile, Universal had made a deal with Dino De Laurentis for the rights to "Hannibal" and, when former Universal executive Chris McGurk took over the reins at MGM, the two studios opted to share the financial risks - with De Laurentis producing. Also included in this complicated deal were Universal's theme-park rights to MGM's James Bond and Pink Panther characters.

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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