Deal Breakers: Hannibal

15 04 2007

This a feature about sequels that are so bad or pointless they kill the franchise. We have seen them, the movies we wish hadn’t been made in the first place. Leave your comments or thought about the particular movie or give the site a few suggestions.

Nearly 11 years after the release of Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins reprised his role as the sinister doctor with a taste for human flesh. The first Lecter film Manhunter was unleashed in 1986 and was then followed four years later by the multiple Academy Award-winning film by director Jonathan Demme. At this point, audiences knew what the intelligent, cultured doctor was capable of and had seen some of his work first hand. Where Manhunter setup the character and delivered more than a few scares, it wasn’t until 1990 that Lector became part of the American psyche. Silence of the Lambs made history by becoming the first and only horror film to ever walk away with the Best Picture trophy. The film also scored matching statuettes for its two leads: Jodie Foster (Best Actress) and Anthony Hopkins (Best Actor) as well as Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. The movie was immensely successful with critics and audiences alike, which doesn’t happen often and it firmly established Hannibal Lector as a horror icon alongside Freddy Krueger, Leatherface and Michael Myers.

The Culprit
Where was the ball dropped with Hannibal? The screenplay was scattered. The direction was simplistic and left out a key element to the series’ success, suspense. The performances on the other hand were more than the adequate with Julianne Moore filling in for Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling. Anthony Hopkins again made the character his own, adding more layers to the complicated movie monster that had enraptured audiences. The main problem with Hannibal was the plot was completely ridiculous from the disfigured man wanting revenge against Dr. Lector to those stupid wild boars who were trained to eat human flesh. The story was a patchwork of stillborn ideas that only worked to tarnish the cannibal in all our eyes. The first indicator that this film was going to be a disaster was the only similarity it shares with the far superior Silence of the Lambs is Sir Anthony Hopkins, all the other elements were absent from this production. And it clearly shows throughout the film.

The Aftermath
Hannibal was released February 2001 to an audience that was eagerly awaiting another mind-bending, suspense-filled mystery to unravel, but instead what was unveiled was nothing more than warmed over scraps. However, the film did perform well at the box office opening with $58 million (at the time the highest opening for an R rated film) and grossing more than $160 million domestically, beating the take of its predecessor. The effect happened after the movies’ release. The character was forever damaged and following entries Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising brought in disminished returns and were considered failures.

Parting Thought
This was a complete disappointment and while it still find it to be better than Hannibal Rising, this is the moment Dr. Hannibal Lector died for a large portion of moviegoers. I can’t recommend Hannibal for the simple matter that it doesn’t offer the viewer anything more than what superior films have shown us. R.I.P. Dr. Lector.

Watch a sliver from our favorite cannibal:




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