“Yep, another one from the video store. Although this is one I specifically went after because I was reading the book. A few weeks ago, I’d lamented that my book queue was empty. I was expecting to grab the new Chuck Palahniuk (a collection of short stories called Make Something Up, Stories You Can’t Unread) at the end of May, and didn’t really want to buy something else before then. I scoured my bookshelf, looking for things to reread, and I noticed Hannibal. I’d gotten it for cheap at an outlet mall ages ago. I couldn’t remember if I’d read it. I knew I’d read the other two, Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, but maybe not this one. I figured I’d give it a whirl. A couple pages in to the first chapter, I found a dog eared corner, indiciating that was as far as I’d previously made it.
I had the movie on VHS, and I knew I had watched it once, but didn’t remember anything about it, other than the infamous brain scene towards the end. Considering how strongly Dragon and Lambs stick out in my mind, it was odd that Hannibal did not. So I watched it this weekend, this time with the book fresh in my mind.
It actually stuck pretty close to the source, minus some missing characters and a more streamlined story. By the third act, there were more deviations, but again, that was due to the understandable cuts. Oh and then the ending was a bit different. Yeah, that’s kinda big, just where the whole Starling/Lecter relationship ended up. Sidebar: I find it interesting that the films primarily refer to our leading lady as Clarice, whereas the book mostly calls her Starling. I’ve found myself doing the latter because of reading her last name more times than hearing her first. That and maybe I also associate “”Clarice”” with “”Hello, Clarice”” which is directed at Jodi Foster in Lambs, but she was replaced with Julianne Moore here. Thankfully Anthony Hopkins was back as Dr Lecter.
Okay so some time has passed after Dr Lecter escaped at the end of Lambs. He’s been traveling the world, doing his thing, while Starling has moved up the ranks a bit in the FBI. Mason Verger, played by Gary Oldman, is one of Lecter’s few victims to ever survive, although he came out of his encounter greatly disfigured. He wants his revenge on the doc, and puts a bounty out to try and find him. Meanwhile, Starling has also picked up some fresh clues that put her on the doctor’s trail.
I think the main issue is that it lacks much of the cat and mouse between Starling and Lecter, which Lambs is so famous for. Red Dragon at least has a strong antagonist in Francis Dollarhide, which helped carry the film. But here, so much of it is Verger vs Lecter, and the stakes just don’t feel the same. Still, the movie doesn’t deserve the bad rap it typically gets. Sure, it’s the least of the trilogy (notice how I’ve pretended that Hannibal Rising doesn’t exist, and the tv series is a whole other animal), but when you consider how strong the other two are (yes Dragon doesn’t have the best rep, but it’s personally my favorite, for reasons I’ve gone into before), of course it’s gonna fall short.
Sidebar: right after I started the movie, I took a quiz that I saw linked on FB that said what villain you turn into when you’re angry. The answer I got was Hannibal Lecter. Oh dear.”