How do you top a film that has taken its place in movie history as one of the all time greats and made it ok to love a cannibalistic serial killer at the same time? You don't. But what you can do is get a kick-ass director, take the story in a new direction, and throw Gary Oldman into the mix for shits and giggles. There's no way the follow up to "Silence of the Lambs" wouldn't crumble a little under the weight of tremendous expectations and disappoint a lot of people in the fan base. "Hannibal" was a box office success, but the critical reactions to it were extremely mixed with most viewers being turned off by the truly bizarre twists and turns the narrative takes. But not me. I love it when story tellers dare to be different. I love it that the good guys don't always win. But most of all, I love it when two great tastes like Ridley Scott and Anthony Hopkins can come together and make something oh so cinematically delicious like Hannibal. What makes this one of my favorite sequel soups ever made? Lets list the ingredients.
A generous portion of Ridley Scott
You need a great chef to make cinematic cannibal treats, and Ridley's resume caters to all tastes. I could heap a shit ton of praise on this guy, but it's not necessary. Ridley is simply THE man, and anyone that thinks otherwise is wrong. He's no stranger to showing us monsters on film, and he had two great ones to play with in Hannibal. Which leads us to our next ingredient for the recipe.
Heavily sprinkles of Gary Oldman
Gary the chameleon strikes again as Mason Verger. Did you know this was Gary? I sure as hell didn't. Mason was a former patient that lived through his encounter with Hannibal, but now he's deformed and has ideas of watching the good doctor be eaten alive by pigs. Hannibal may have mutilated him, but his thirst for revenge truly made him a monster.He's not a natural killer, but his plot is diabolical enough to throw him in with guys like Lecter. Mason creeps me the hell out, and he's easily one of my favorite movie villains.
Italian spice of Florence
Much of the picture was set and filmed in Florence Italy. Listening closely in SOTL, Lecter pretty much tells us that's where he'd like to be if he got out of prison. It's his ultimate playground. Be warned that if you mess with him on his turf, he is the predator and you are the prey. I'll never pretend to be an expert on cinematography, but after seeing Ridley's Italy on film, I know I want to go there some day. There's already a good soup cooking here, but it needs just one more thing.
A huge helping of Hopkins
A follow up to SOTL could have easily just had Hannibal back in prison helping the F.B.I. catch another notorious killer. They would sadly go down that road again with Ratner's "Red Dragon." But here, no bars will suffice. Hannibal is a bird set free from his cage, and watching Hopkins toy with people in this outing is delightful. In Silence, people that spoke with him knew how dangerous he was. Unleashing him onto an unknowing populace makes for great tension anytime he mingles with an unsuspecting character. He didn't better his Oscar winning performance, but he did give us more Hannibal and that's a good thing. Lecter also eats a man's brains while he's still alive, and that's gotta be a cinematic first. Dark, twisted, and one hell of a sequel. I couldn't care less that Foster didn't return to the role of Starling. The movie is called Hannibal for a reason. He's who we want.........he's who we need.........he's why I'm currently obsessed.