BLU-RAY REVIEW: Hannibal & Manhunter
Hannibal the Cannibal in two hi-def home video features...
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Hannibal Lecter is a pop culture phenomenon. A common villain in Thomas Harris' book series written between 1981 and 2006, Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter (or Lecktor as it's spelled in Manhunter ) is one of the greatest villains to ever grace the page or screen. And yet, for some strange reason, the man-eating psychiatrist locked behind plastic walls continues to fascinate even the best of us with his charm, wit, and odd morality. Recently, two films feature Lecter - 1986's Manhunter and 2001's Hannibal - finally hit blu-ray hi-def, sure to impress fans of the classic character.
Manhunter, based on Harris' first Lecter novel Red Dragon and features an intriguing plot which finds William Petersen playing the role of Will Graham, a former FBI profiler whose abilities are both a gift and a curse and have left him in early retirement following an attack by Lecter. Tasked with helping solve another crime which it seems only he has the ability to do, Graham must once again face Lecter.
Peterson - best known today as Gil Grissom on CSI - plays a solid part as Graham while Lecter's part is played by an unforgettable Brian Cox, who's frightening as the psychiatrist-turned-murdering maneater. A suspenseful tale of haunting crime, hideous characters, and the extent one man must go to in order to stop these crimes and hide these sick men, Manhunter is a a great first foray into the Lecter on-screen mythos. Directed by Michael Mann, this film bleeds 1980's attitude and cool. As it is the original film based on Harris' first Lecter novel, Red Dragon, it is sadly often overlooked in exchange for the more modern retelling of Red Dragon by director Brett Ratner. That aside, Manhunter is well worth watching.
The Manhunter blu-ray includes no special features to speak of, even though the numerous, previously released DVD of the film included director commentary, interviews, trailers, and more. Disappointing is an understatement.
Overall, Manhunter is a worth-while watch for those who love Thomas Harris' Hannibal Lecter story. While it may not feature the modern look, style, and grace of it's successor or the Lecter everyone knows and loves (Hopkins), it's still a brilliantly told story when considering it's time and place.
After the success of 1991's Silence of the Lambs, the book's sequel - aptly titled Hannibal - was adapted for the big screen by screenwriters David Mamet and Steven Zaillian and directed by Ridley Scott. This time, Julianne Moore plays the role of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, a part once played by Jodie Foster. Of course, Anthony Hopkins once again plays the part of Hannibal Lecter. While emotionally engaging, beautifully directed, and gorgeously set in Florence, Hannibal is violent, vicious, and over the top. It plays to its strengths - strong characters and harsh crime - but it lacks what made Silence of the Lambs great and isn't as smooth or graceful as Red Dragon.
As for special features, Hannibal features only trailers for other films, which - essentially - means "nothing." Or, at least nothing particularly attractive to fans of the film franchise.
Like Manhunter, Hannibal has its flaws, but is a fun foray into the Hannibal Lecter on-screen story. While it may not be Silence of the Lambs or even the later released Hannibal Rising, it's still an enjoyable look at one of film history's greatest villains.
Both Manhunter and Hannibal are available on blu-ray hi-def now wherever fine home video are sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley