Hannibal Minus One

Hopkins without Foster just doesn't equate

In short this, like the book, is a work with only one reason to exist: money. In fact, rare is the film that has paycheck written so clearly all over it for nearly all the participants. Hopkins is effective, if often verging into self-parody. Giannini looks as if he took his assignment more seriously, investing some real humanity in an Italianized rendition of the classic shabby cop. Oldman, whose name appears only in the closing credits, is unrecognizable as Verger -- a toothless character with no facial features to speak of. Despite the toothlessness Oldman, for better or worse, immediately sets about chewing the scenery with his trademark gusto.

Director Scott -- whose vastly variable output ranges from Thelma and Louise and Alien to 1492 and Legend -- seems to have signed on just for the sake of a Florentine vacation. A filmmaker with a much richer, more identifiable visual style than Demme, Scott's distinctive eye is apparent throughout the Italian sequences: He makes Florence look like a Renaissance version of the Los Angeles of Blade Runner, which he also made. The American material feels tossed off, though, as if Scott lost interest within moments of passing through customs.

Like other ill-considered sequels -- the later Psycho films leap to mind -- Hannibal is more than just a disappointment. It is also a spoiler, possibly weakening the impact of the original for its fans. The new information the movie unwisely gives us about Hannibal and Clarice destroys some of the mystery in their relationship, thus retroactively sullying the memory of Silence.

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