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"Hannibal"

Directed by Ridley Scott.
Written by David Mamet and Steve Zaillian. 
Starring Julianne Moore, Anthony Hopkins, Gary Oldman and Ray Liotta.
Release Year:  2001 
Review Date:  2/9/01 

Folks-- 

"Pain don't hurt!" 

Have you heard this phrase before?  Men usually say it to other men when they are whining about how bad it hurt to twist their knee on the basketball court, or get trampled by two 300-pound men on the football field.

I was a big believer in that statement, until I went to the movie theater today.  In "Hannibal", so many people die in pain that this pain will make you hurt in the stomach.  Literally.  People get beaten, trampled, eaten, hacked, gutted, and chopped to bits...you are almost thankful for the few lucky souls in this film that just get shot in the chest!  Did you ever see "Reservoir Dogs"?  Remember in the beginning of that film, the scene where Tim Roth is bleeding to death in the back seat of Harvey Keitel's car?  You are just churning in your seat as you watch Roth scream, and scream, and SCREAM as he is losing gallons of blood from his gut.

If remembering this scene from "Reservoir Dogs" hurts to think about, please skip "Hannibal" because I want to honestly warn you that what I saw today disgusted even ME.  And, as many of you know, that is not easy to do.  "Hannibal" is the third adaptation of a Thomas Harris novel on Hannibal, after "Manhunter" (don't worry, no one else saw this Michael Mann film either) and "The Silence of the Lambs."  This one opens with 10-year FBI veteran Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) helming a criminal bust that goes bad--way bad--and as a result, she is given a leave of absence.  About the same time, her old criminal rival Hannibal (Anthony Hopkins) surfaces in Italy posing as a doctor in Florence.  He surfaces only because of information gathered by Hannibal's only surviving victim, a horribly disfigured man by the name of Mason Verger (Gary Oldman, behind a lot of makeup), who clearly has ulterior interests in discovering his former attacker's whereabouts.  The remainder of the film finds Starling trying to figure out Hannibal's next move...and of course, his next victim.

Let's be honest, you are going to see this movie whether I liked it or not, right?  So, let me be frank:  good or bad, this movie is some sick, twisted shit.  The film's story is useless, so don't concentrate on it while you are watching the movie.  It is hard to describe this movie as "violent", when in fact, I think it is just bloody...but, very violent at very sporadic moments.  Hopkins is flat-out creepy, and he is just as good as he was in "The Silence of the Lambs", and this is good because, as the title suggests, this movie is mostly about Hannibal, not Moore's Starling.  Speaking of which, Moore is very good, but because she is given much less to do in this film, it is hard to compare her performance to Jodie Foster's performance in "Lambs."  (Speaking of which, has anyone seen Foster lately?  Girl hasn't been in a good film in years!!)

So, since many of you have already skipped down to my rating, why did I not love this so much?  Well, simply, half of this film is set in Italy with an entirely different storyline than the one used in the first half-hour and the last half-hour.  An Italian cop discovers Hannibal's true identity and then follows him all over town...but, doesn't arrest him because he is trying to collect a multimillion-dollar reward for his capture.  This struck me as ridiculous, but worse, it takes too much time away from Moore and Hopkins' screen time.  Why did the screenwriters do this?  I didn't come to see some hotshot Italian actor smoke cigarettes for an hour, I came to see Anthony Hopkins eat people!  This is a sequel!  People come to sequels not to see something "fresh" or "original", but something that they liked so much about the first movie!  Did you see "Die Hard 2"?  It wasn't about John Mclaine's time at home with the kids!  It was about lots of killing!!  That is why it made so much money.

Of course, even when the story re-focuses on the reason why I went to see this film, there is such a useless story that it might not have made a difference.

I do know this:  there is a moment at the end of this movie that is so...nasty that it made almost everyone in my theater today turn their heads in disgust.  Please note that the ending of this movie is different than the one in the book.  If you read the book, please shoot me a line and tell me how the book ends; I would love to know why the producers thought they needed to change it.  Oh, and there is one more thing that I know:  whether you like it or not, you WILL walk out of this theater and say the same three words that I did:

"What the fuck?"

Rating:  Matinee

 

Comments?  Drop me a line at justin@bellviewmovies.com.

 

Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/bellviewmovies.com except where noted
1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09