|Release: 2001, Rating: R, Runtime: 131 min.|
Short nitty-gritty plot description from IMDb is as follows: Hannibal returns to America and attempts to make contact with disgraced Agent Starling and survive a vengeful victim's plan.
Hannibal picks up 10 years after The Silence of the Lambs and replaces Jodie Foster with Julianne Moore, as Clarice Starling (more on this later). Clarice is still with the FBI and managed to get into a hot mess, when a shoot out goes south. The higher ups at the FBI, use her as a sacrificial lamb and thanks to Paul Krendler (Ray Liotta), she is about to lose her job. However, the only known survivor of Hannibal Lecter, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman in a role that will have you amazed that it's him), would like to talk to Clarice Starling, to find out more about Hannibal and possibly use her to bring him in. You see, Hannibal has been missing for those 10 years and Mason wants his revenge. So, Clarice is now getting roped up in the hunt for Hannibal Lecter.
We jump to Florence, where we find out what Hannibal has been up to. (So far, the book is being followed closely, but has removed a good portion of the unnecessary crap, with no testosterone jacked sister to be found.) Hannibal is going under the name of Dr. Fell and is in the running to be the next library curator, thanks to the unusual disappearance of the last curator. Due to this disappearance, Chief Inspector Renaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini), has a talk with Hannibal and starts to suspect something about him. Now Hannibal Lecter's identity is in jeopardy and not everyone is going to make it out alive.
I won't spoil much more of the movie (although I'm sure most people have seen it, but you know, I would rather be nice if you haven't seen it). The movie runs a little long at 131 minutes and drags a little come the second half, which does lend itself to the awfulness of the book. Honestly, any fault with this movie, falls squarely on the book. The movie does it's best to fix whatever is unnecessary, but still manages to fall a little flat, when compared to The Silence of the Lambs. Still, Anthony Hopkins returning as Hannibal Lecter, is a wonderful thing and he seems to be having an absolute blast with the role.
As for Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling. She might not be as great as Jodie Foster in the role, but the Clarice here is supposed to be different, she is brass and comes off hard assed and that to me is how I pictured Clarice maturing. Julianne Moore does an admiral job taking over and damn does she look good in that black dress!
Hannibal beats the living shit out of the book. It reworks that crappy ending and provides something a hell of a lot better and manages to not tarnish the characters. It does become long, but come the end, it was an enjoyable trip. It might not beat Lambs, but no Hannibal Lecter movie* will.
*As for the TV series, Hannibal, it's definitely doing the right thing to be the best Hannibal Lecter related material ever.