Directed By Ridley Scott
By: Eric Greenwood
Ridley Scott's Hannibal is a boring waste of time. The first sign that this film was going to be a failure was when Jodie Foster read the script and said "no thanks"- not that Jodie Foster has impeccable taste (Anna And The King is even more boring than Hannibal, but at least you expected it to be). The second sign was the fact that additional screenwriters had to be brought in to rescue David Mamet's first draft of the script. What in the hell is David Mamet doing writing cheesy horror scripts, you may wonder? You'll note the high profile release of his latest film, State And Main, and question no more. Quid pro quo. Hope it was worth damaging your reputation, Mr. Mamet.
Anthony Hopkins should have known better, but I guess, after films like Instinct, all pride goes out the window. Sir Hopkins wisely didn't want to repeat himself in Hannibal so no Fava beans and no tongue action. Instead, though, he treats us to awful new catchphrases like "okey dokey", which sound utterly implausible coming from a man so purportedly refined. He's like a brains-eating Ned Flanders. Hopkins possesses none of the malice he did in The Silence Of The Lambs; his performance is pure camp. John Waters will love it. The film is so utterly devoid of pacing or thrills that you're actually cheering for the bad guy. It is the ultimate cynic's film, lacking any semblance of hope or remorse or emotional connection. Nothing in it is scary. The villains are laughable clods, including Hopkins' emasculated Hannibal. The more you get to know him the less intriguing he is. Topping even Hopkins' candy-ass lampooning of Dr. Lecter is Gary Oldman's over the top turn as a burnt pumpkin (Mason Verger- one of Lecter's victims who got away and wants to feed Lecter to wild boars…ooh, scary). Surely, Oldman knew this film was dogshit, so he hammed it up accordingly.
The plot is ass-backwards and absurdly unbelievable, so I won't bore you with its inconsistencies because that would insult your intelligence. It's like watching a Timothy Dalton James Bond movie without any hot Bond girls- it's so corny. And, no, Julianne Moore doesn't cut it either. She's like a stonewall reading these artificially inseminated lines, awkwardly throwing in traces of a southern accent to stay true to Foster's creation but sounding like a Faulknerian idiot. Clarice Starling is incidental in this film. The plot relies so heavily on your knowledge of The Silence Of The Lambs that if you saw Hannibal without having seen its predecessor you'd be clueless as to her motivation or resolve (although Scott does his damndest to get you up to speed using transparent tricks like having Clarice review Dr. Lecter's case file). It's not Julianne Moore's fault; she did what she could with such lifeless tripe for a script.
It is Ridley Scott's fault, though. It's rare to see a filmmaker so utterly out of place. It's like watching a film about Tibet directed by Martin Scorsese or a film about baseball directed by Sam Raimi. Hmm, maybe it isn't so rare after all. There's just something intrinsically wrong, though. Scott has no business directing a horror film because he has no concept of suspense, evidenced by the fact that you're so bored watching this comic book cartoon that you resort to longing for the deaths of the characters. You'd be inclined to think Scott had never even seen The Silence Of The Lambs the way he avoids any trace of its appeal. The film looks like a dark b-movie with too much money. Apart from the opening night masses hoping for a reprise of Jonathan Demme’s work, the gratuitous gore is the only reason anyone will walk into the theater, but the gore is a let down, too, because it's just carelessly thrown in for show. Thanks Ridley Scott. You had better hope that Gladiator wins you an award to cover up this travesty. If there's any justice in the world, the word of mouth will kill this film as well as any future franchise hopes.