Hannibal Strikes Again. Badly.

Anthony Hopkins March 2000
AP (file)
This week, CBS News Sunday Morning's John Leonard explains why Hannibal is no Silence of the Lambs.
In an interview in the current issue of TV Guide, Anthony Hopkins admits that, at one point on the set of Hannibal, he asked himself: "Why, exactly, did you agree to do this film?"

But then he decided that Ridley Scott's sequel to The Silence of the Lambs was supposed to be funny. They laughed their way through the last 10 minutes, which critics have been asked not to talk about, so as not to spoil the fun.

But the last 10 minutes of Hannibal are no more disgusting than any number of earlier scenes - like the disemboweling of an Italian cop, or a dog eating a face, or the wild boar stew. Don't look for Hannibal any time soon on the Food Network cable channel.

Ten years after Hannibal the Cannibal escaped from a maximum-security insane asylum, Hopkins is hanging around with all the Renaissance Art in Florence, Italy. Back home, FBI agent Clarice Starling (played this time by Julianne Moore instead of Jodie Foster) is in trouble with her own boss, David Andrews, and a Justice Department slimeball, Ray Liotta, because of a bust gone wrong.

At the insistence of a billionaire victim of Hannibal's (played by Gary Oldman in disguise), Clarice is back on the case. And Hannibal, pursued by the billionaire, Clarice, and a greedy Italian policeman (played by Giancarlo Giannini), is suddenly back in action - first in Florence and then back home again, where they are using Clarice to lure him into a trap.

The Leonard File
Read past reviews by John Leonard.
You may be surprised to learn that Hannibal is chivalrous. When Clarice needs help, he lends a hand. I refuse to discuss the wild pigs, because none of it is their fault. But the Thomas Harris novel wasn't funny. It was, instead, desperate, as if he knew he had to up the ugly ante just to top himself.

So, too, is Ridley Scott's film sequel desperate, trying to top Jonathan Demme, gussied up with enough music-video camera tricks to frighten a film school, before deciding to be campy. And I find that I have run out of ways to think about the production values of sexual mutilation, from Jack the Ripper to Pablo Picasso t American Psycho.

Brian De Palma has explained: "I don't particularly want to chop up women, but it seems to work."

Work for whom?

I am so old, I remember when we used to be ashamed of ourselves.

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