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Starring Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore
Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and David Mamet
Based on the novel by Thomas Harris
Directed by Ridley Scott

IN SHORT: Ridley Scott makes an opera. [Rated R for strong, gruesome violence, some nudity, and language.]

As always, we make no comparison to Source Material, in this case the novel by Thomas Harris. We're told that director Ridley Scott's adaptation of the book features a different ending but we never give those away, either. We will remind you that Hannibal is the long panted-for sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, picking up the story ten years later with fugitive cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) comfortably settled in Italy and FBI Special Agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore) suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous media attention to her career. If you've never seen The Silence of the Lambs, the screenplay by Steven Zaillian and David Mamet brings you quickly up to date on who the principal players are. If you haven't seen the first movie, the only negative about Hannibal is its running time, as in "takes its sweet..."

We saw the first movie. We sat in the dark, anxiously awaiting events rumored to be so repulsive that teevee critics who saw the film first literally lost their lunch. We didn't. We feasted on an adaptation stuffed to the gills with multiple subplots that all work in concert and never leave you with the feeling that you're sitting through a 600 page novel stuffed into the confines of a two hour movie. Star Anthony Hopkins has already spilled to the public that this sequel is so gory that it is almost comic. That's no joke. What you see on the big screen is some truly sick stuff; material so horrific that the only reaction is to laugh, nervously. We heard that reaction at the screening we attended. We're not going to tell you the events that caused said reaction. You'll know 'em when you see 'em.

The years haven't much changed Clarice Starling. Her jaw is still clenched tight, her accent is still in place and the only apparent physical reaction to her youthful encounter with Hannibal Lecter is a change of hair color <g>. Starling's career isn't sterling. She's just made the Guinness Book of World Records as the "deadliest" FBI agent, you'll see an example of her bad luck in the first part of the movie, and she's been made to suffer in the media for it. Every teevee report about her actions includes mention of the high watermark of her career, her interaction with Hannibal Lecter.

An ocean away, Hannibal "the Cannibal" is enjoying the quiet life as "Dr. Fell," an art historian in Florence, Italy. When his boss mysteriously disappears the local police, led by Detective Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) come knocking. Perhaps sensing that his retirement is about to come to an end, Lecter sends a letter to his most beloved nemesis, who gets cracking on the first hard evidence she's seen in a decade. Clarice's long distance detective work is good, but she doesn't have the financial resources that Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) does. Verger, one of the few victims to survive an attack by Lecter, has put a $3 millions price on the doctor's head. If Pazzi, who has learned of the reward via the Internet, fails to nab Lecter, then Verger has more than enough resources -- that means he's got a cop (Ray Liotta) in his pocket -- to put Clarice in enough danger to bring the doc running.

It's a real slow burn until you get to the good parts. Hannibal does not slip down into slice 'n' dice violence, but it does get bloody. The method of its climactic killing has been done on the big screen before but not in the graphic detail you'll see. All the fun of this movie is in the build-up; the anticipation of something truly disgusting. Some folk we sat with thought, as a horror flick, the thing was awful. We didn't think that, but Hopkins does play this one way over the top.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Hannibal, he would have paid...


Our ydateflick level. Knowledge of the first movie, which had deeper characterizations, enhances the viewing experience greatly. Not knowing the first flick doesn't get in the way.

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