Taking the basic plot contraptions from Thomas Harris’s baroque novel, Hannibal is so stylistically different from its predecessor that it forces you to take it on its own terms. Director Ridley Scott gives the film a sleek, almost European look that lets you know that, unlike the first film (which was about the quintessentially American Clarice), this movie is all Hannibal. Does it work? Yes–but only up to a point. Scott adeptly sets up an atmosphere of foreboding, but it’s all buildup for anticlimax, as Verger’s plot for abducting Hannibal (and feeding him to man-eating wild boars) doesn’t really deliver the requisite visceral thrills, and the much-ballyhooed climatic dinner sequence between Clarice, Dr. Lecter, and a third unlucky guest wobbles between parody and horror. Hopkins and Moore are both first-rate, but the film contrives to keep them as far apart as possible, when what made Silence so amazing was their interaction. When they do connect it’s quite thrilling, but it’s unfortunately too little too late. –Mark Englehart This marks the first time HANNIBAL is available on its own on the Blu-ray hi-def format!

Studio: MGM
Year: 2001
Release Date: August 21, 2011
Run time: 131 minutes
Rating: R

Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Disc Spec: 1 BD
Region: A

The film begins 10 years after Dr. Hannibal Lecter’s incredible escape from prison. Barney Matthews (Frankie Faison), the former orderly who watched over Lecter at the Baltimore hospital, is at the home of the horribly disfigured Mason Verger (Gary Oldman). Barney is giving Verger information about Lecter. He also sells him Lecter’s original restraint mask for $250,000. Meanhwhile, FBI agent Clarice Starling (now played by Julianne Moore) is in the middle of a sting operation. The operation is botched when Starling kills her intended captive in an act of self-defense.

The FBI reprimands Starling for her actions. She is then summoned by Mason Verger. Verger was one of Lecter’s original victims (one of two to survive his attacks.) Despite his exceeding wealth, Verger was a brutal child molester. He was referred to Dr. Lecter after being arrested on molestation charges. One night, Verger invited Lecter to his estate. He got drunk and showed him the noose that he used for erotic asphyxiation. Lecter gave Verger mind-enhancing drugs and then convinced him to peel off his own face with a mirror shard. Lecter fed the chunks of flesh to Verger’s dogs. Verger also ate his own nose. Afterwards, Lecter broke Verger’s neck with the noose. Verger, however, survived only to be reduced to a monstrously disfigured paraplegic dependent on life-support. Verger hopes that Starling can help him to capture the elusive Lecter and bring him to justice.

It turns out, Lecter is living in Florence, Italy under the false name of Dr. Fell. Lecter is met by Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) who is investigating the disappearance of a library curator. Lecter happens to be the curator’s temporary replacement. Starling later receives a letter from Lecter. With help from scent experts, she concludes that Lecter is somewhere in Europe. Starling contacts several European fragrance stores (who sell ambergris: a scent found in the letter) in hopes of maybe spotting Lecter in a surveillance tape. After spotting Dr. Fell in Starling’s requested surveillance tape, Pazzi discovers that Fell is in fact Dr. Hannibal Lecter. He secretly contacts Mason Verger in hopes of getting a $3 million reward. What Starling doesn’t realize is that Verger doesn’t wish to bring Lecter to justice, he wishes to put Lecter through unimaginable suffering.
Movie Quality: 9/10

Print/Audio Quality

The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-2 with a 1:85:1 aspect ratio. I have owned ‘Hannibal’ several times on VHS and DVD. Finally this film looks great on home video, yet there are issues with the print. One of the problems is that the film is on a single-layer BD25 with a MPEG-2 codec which at times looks like an upconverted DVD. There are other times where up close scenes look very good when the camera is up close. Black colors are deep. With ‘Hannibal’ being only a few years old, I had expected more from the print but when I found out that it was an MPEG-2 encode I was not expecting much. This print suffers from dull colors and lower quality details. These are the few redeeming qualities about the print. The print is not pristine as there are a few specs of dirt. The noise levels are kept at a minimum never getting intrusive. I hope that MGM will revisit this film in the near future giving it proper treatment since this film can look even better. For fans of the film you will be happy with the quality of the print.
Print Quality: 6/10

The audio is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix. ‘Hannibal’ is a dialogue centric and the main focus. For those going in expecting an intense and complex audio experience you might be a little disappointed. There are some effects that peer through the rears providing some ambiance into the soundfield. While this is not a bombastic soundtrack, it is the best that these films have sounded for home video.
Print Quality: 9/10

Special Features

  • There are no special features

Special Features: 0/10

Final Thoughts

Anthony Hopkins returns as one of the great villains in screen history, Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lecter, in this riveting sequel to The Silence of the Lambs. This is highly recommended if you do not own the film already and if you already have this on DVD, it is well worth the upgrade.

Overall Rating: 5/10