On Second Thought: “Hannibal”

IMG_0369.JPGWhen you watch a film the first time, you’ll either love it, hate it, or be somewhat indifferent towards it. Sometimes it’s just because you’re not entirely certain it really is a flat out bad film. Maybe there’s other factors that keep you from enjoying it completely.

The Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Universal Pictures film “Hannibal”, definitely falls into the range of indifference, however, for me, that view has shifted a bit more in one direction that it shouldn’t have.

This thriller stars Anthony Hopkins (“Noah”, “Thor: The Dark World”), Julianne Moore (“The Hunger Games: Mockinjay Part I”, upcoming “Still Alice”), Gary Oldman (“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”, “RoboCop”), Ray Liotta (“The Money”, “Kill the Messenger”), Frankie Faison (“Forever”, “Black Box”), Giancarlo Giannini (“Di tutti I colori”, “The Gambler Who Wouldn’t Die”), Francesca Neri (“Una famiglia perfetta”, “A Second Childhood”), and Zeljko Ivanek (“Madam Secretary”, “Suits”).

The film was directed by Ridley Scott (upcoming “Exodus: Gods & Kings”, “The Counselor”) and written by David Mamet (“Phil Spector”, “Two Painters (Short 2010)”) and Steven Zaillian (“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”, “Moneyball”).. It is based on the novel of the same name by Thomas Harris.

The film originally opened on Feb. 9, 2001.

Well, at long last I have finally done what I started to believe impossible. I finished reading “Hannibal”. You know what that means? So, after having to wait for weeks before seeing this film I’ve done so, with a little hesitation and caution. I felt like it was a massive chore to get through the book and as it turns out, a lot more than just characters translated over into the film version.

The film overall was boring and difficult to get through with full attention. The same thing that plagued the book, also hindered the movie when trying to be good in any capacity. Like the book, the bits that took place in Italy, and all the characters, were uninteresting. Too much time was spent with them, but the only difference is that the action moves faster and was broken up more so I’m not sitting for something like 30 minutes of boring storytelling. In the book it was over 100 pages and that made it even harder to want to read. This is also very sad as a lot of Hopkin’s scenes take place in Italy, with these uninteresting characters, and I can’t really be excited when seeing him on screen.

The only truly exciting elements of this film involved Moore’s character and all that she was doing or going through. While you did hate that she was under fire for an operation gone wrong, she was fully capable of defending herself and that was exciting as that attribute carried over nicely. Next there was the Lecter case she was then on, for the obvious reason, but it was mainly the only exciting bit for her character. Watching her throw herself into it, with the care you’d expect, was somewhat exhilarating, but after awhile it just seemed routine.

It’s sad too, that while Hopkins is still somewhat fascinating, but doesn’t completely lure me in like he did in “The Silence of the Lambs”. I’m just not as drawn in, and ultimately can’t care about him like I did before. If only his eyes and speaking mannerisms were the only thing needed to form a character.

Moore also had a few things hindering her as Starling. There was the weak accent that was needed, and the missing burn mark on her right cheek, which should’ve been there as it came about in the previous film. There’s also the fact that she’s bringing a different portrayal, chemistry and ultimately a different character. Try as you may, it’s not just that she’s grown and changed over the last 10 years, that makes her different, but that the characterization is approached differently. I could still like her enough, but at the same time, I was simply distracted by how she didn’t have the same anything that reminds me of the original portrayal. I feel, in turn, that this affected the overall chemistry between her and Hopkins, which was practically nonexistent.

A major plus, for a book adaptation, is that it followed the book really well. While this follow was really present in the broad outline sense, there were several moments that were incredibly familiar, as I could recall that occurring. Even some dialogue was pulled straight from the book, which made me chuckle. There were some moments that were changed, for some reason I can’t fathom. It’s not like these changes were entirely necessary. I was okay without the inclusion of a few characters, as it would’ve only dragged the film on and/or slowed down the pacing more than it already was. But for an adaptation I was pleasantly surprised with the way it was handled.

One thing I can’t understand at all, and it bugs me so, is that Hopkin’s character is supposed to be in hiding and using a different name. The only problem with this in the film, he doesn’t look different at all. When he’s being spoken to by many others, especially Giannini, he’s spoken to as if he looks like somebody else. Like somehow the characters were given some drug that makes it impossible to notice the truth, when the audience can see it plainly. In the book, and this annoys me so, it’s so clearly stated that he’s had bits of plastic surgery to make sure he can’t be recognized easily. Apparently glossing over this, and just using the alias, is okay and audiences won’t question this level of lazy. Every time I just wanted to yell at Giannini’s character, to inform him that he is stupid and should know already who he’s speaking with.

While this film couldn’t, or ever, stand up to its predecessor, it was surprisingly faithful to the source material. While that seems a rarity, it was still a disappointing film to watch. If it had been a bit more engaging and not full of useless material, the film could’ve kept my interest. Even “Red Dragon” managed the few storylines that existed and kept its pacing up. While a faithful or, at the very least, good adaptation is all anyone’s asking for, that doesn’t mean that you’ll get a quality product. The saddest part is I’m now regretting owning this movie. It’s “Jurassic Park III” all over again.

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