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Hannibal (2001) star star
Reviewed 2001-10-05: The story is set ten years after Silence of the Lambs (1990). FBI agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore perfectly replacing Jody Foster) assumes responsibility for a botched drug bust. About to be punished by DoJ Second Look Reviewofficial Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta), she gets a reprieve when wealthy and influential recluse Mason Verger (an uncredited and unrecognizable Gary Oldman) asks that she be put back on the case of the convicted serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins).
DR. HANNIBAL LECTER: Is this coincidence, or are you back on the case? If so, goody goody.
Verger was Lecter's only victim who lived, but with a terribly scarred face and a life sentence in a wheelchair. Meanwhile in Florence, Italy, Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) is investigating the mysterious disappearance of an art curator and questions the man's potential replacement, Dr. Fell, who turns out to be none other than Hannibal Lecter. Once Pazzi -- Hannibal calls him "Patsy" -- realizes who Fell really is, he sets out to collect a handsome reward, secretly offered by Verger, but this has disastrous consequences for Pazzi, who is dispatched in a way reminiscent of an ancestor. All this, while Verger uses Clarice to lure Lecter into captivity so that he can get his revenge. But Hannibal seems to be a step ahead of everyone.

My first reaction to this Ridley Scott film -- he recently directed the excellent Gladiator, by the way -- was YUCK!! The graphic depictions of blood and gore, obviously meant to shock, yielded my disgust. I seriously considered turning off the film, which something I never do. Hopkins is mesmerizing, of course, but there is something not quite satisfying in seeing him moving about freely as opposed to his mostly restrained movements in Lambs. Just as the graphic gore could have been just as effective, without the disgust factor, if it were indicated and implied rather that shown, it seems that Hannibal was even scarier when tied up that he seems as an unbound demon.

As for Julianne Moore vs. Jody Foster, I think Moore was excellent casting: she is a phenomenal, fearless actress exhibiting just the right balance of jaded toughness and simple faith in justice. This is demonstrated when she rescues Hannibal from being eaten alive by pigs:
CLARICE STARLING: I'll cut you loose. If you touch me, I'll shoot you.
CLARICE STARLING: Do right, and you'll live through this.
HANNIBAL LECTER: Spoken like a true Protestant.
...and in this exchange...
LECTER: Tell me Clarice, would you ever say to me, "Stop! If you loved me you'd stop!"
CLARICE STARLING: Not in a thousand years.
LECTER: Not in a thousand years. That's my girl!
At least Lecter never loses his sense of humor. And, indeed, there is very dark humor in Hannibal. I couldn't say I enjoyed as much as I "appreciated" it. But I could have enjoyed it more with less gore. (Oh, dear! I'm rhyming again!)

Ronald Bruce Meyer is a freelance reviewer.