I have to ashamedly admit I tried watching this last year and I fell asleep – and I hardly ever fall asleep just ‘cos I’m tired. But I still gave it the benefit of the doubt and figured since I plan to make Hannibal the centrepiece of my Valentine’s Day this year as has long been my intention, I may as well do the whole series beforehand, and fit a virgin viewing in to boot
“You’re not following the human order, Hannibal. You’ve got to stop hurting the bullies.”
With a line like that and a cinematic legacy like Hannibal Lecter, this movie should really be so much better than it is. I was wary about a movie that looked so much like it was going to extend the “waahhhh boohoo I’m a victim of the 20th century” excuse for Hannibal Lecter even further than Hannibal went. Like I’ve said before, I think Hannibal is one of the most romantic movies ever … more on that maybe on Thursday … but there’s a point where the 20th century excuse can be applied so broadly as to demand a line to be drawn. So if you think I’m weird for thinking what I think about Hannibal, lol, then you might wanna think twice before venturing here.
In all, this is ever so slightly better than I feared (having fallen asleep the last time, how could it not be? lol) … but it’s ever too involved and procedural to the point of distraction. I was inclined at first to blame this on the adaptation process but as I followed that thought through I realised that actually, though the screenplay clearly tries to keep a lot of events in that could easily be cut for the screen, those events actually wouldn’t even be relevant even in the longer novel form. As the end credits rolled I realised Thomas Harris himself was responsible for the adaptation, so I guess either way the blame falls to him. There’s a good story here, but it needs to be so much clearer, if only to match the simplicity of what came before in the Lecter story onscreen, even going back to Manhunter.
It’s basically very up and down – for every moment worthy of the title, there’s something like the, “The little boy died years ago – his heart died with Mischa,” line that makes the psychobabble at the end of Hitchcock’s Psycho seem positively legit lol; for all the good that Rhys Ifans and Dominic West put in by being so totally different from anything else they’ve appeared in, there’s things like the mask thing … yes, it has more sense to it than my initial kneejerk reaction of “WTF, why would he willingly put that mask on back in the 1950s!??!?” lol … but again, it’s just not made clear enough what it is nor what it signifies; basically as if it’s purely been shot for the trailer.
But for all that up and down that preceeds it, the main “transformation” scene where Hannibal gets his first taste of flesh is actually quite beautifully done – Gong Li walking away, “what is left in you to love?” with his creepily familiar tilting of the head at her followed by the animal dive to bite at a cheek … I can’t deny it left me with something almost approaching what Hannibal left me with … albeit it far less romantic … it’s by no means a failure, and I’ll no doubt watch it again to see if there’s anything else to it.