Ridley Scott, fresh from his success with Gladiator, takes on a sequel to one of our most revered and creepy films, Silence of the Lambs. Not since Peter Hyams filmed a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey has there been such speculation and anticipation.
Hannibal scores a little higher than 2010: The Year We Make Contact, but like that sequel, it fails to achieve the inspiration of the first. Hannibal, however, is a good and sometimes disturbing film. Anthony Hopkins dances on the edge of parody and insanity, and pulls off an elegant performance. Julianne Moore has ably taken over where Jodie Foster left off.
There is less substance here. Gone is the intense tete-a-tete between Starling and Lecter. The mood shifts, often becoming darkly comic, whereas Silence was more like a slowly turning knife in your gut. The much-ballyhooed gore is mostly in shadows, and the final scenes, while not exactly bloody, are quite vivid, but played like some kind of hellish burlesque. It's over the top, but you really can't criticize it; it's already making fun of itself.
Hannibal falls far short of its predecessor, but it's still slick entertainment with great performances.