First off, a question: what kind of moron makes a call to someone from his cell phone in a movie theater just as the movie is beginning?!?!?! Ugh…times I wish it was legal to backhand someone just because.

Okay. I’m calm.

Just got back from Hannibal. I kind of need to let this one percolate in my brain for a bit before making a final decision, but did want to get some of my immediate thoughts down. Basically…well, in all honesty, kind of dissapointing. Nowhere near as strong of a film as either Manhunter or The Silence of the Lambs, which was kind of a shame. I don’t want to lay the fault of this on any of the cast or even on Ridley Scott — I think the problems lay in the story itself. It just felt very uninspired for the most part. I wasn’t quite bored at any point, but wasn’t at all drawn into the film, either.

The first part of the film fell kind of flat for me — it seemed a little heavy on the exposition and setup, trying to draw us in to what was going on, but not ever quite succeeding. The rest of it…well, for the following couple paragraphs I want to point out some parts that are definitely spoiler material.

I just couldn’t buy Clarice’s ‘downfall’. This was one of the first big things that bugged me — wouldn’t the FBI be recording all transmissions between the various people during an operation like that? If that were the case, then there would be a record of both Clarice and her friend telling the rest of the agents to stand down, and the cop going off on his own and provoking the situation that resulted in Clarice having to shoot the suspect. With that kind of record, I find it extremely hard to believe that Clarice would have gone through the villification that she was.

Next big problem — the revenge plan involving the boars. I’m sorry, but that was just all sorts of silly, and seemed much more like it belonged in a B-movie than the successor to one of the most famous psychological suspense films ever made.

Lastly, the final climax involving Ray Liotta‘s character getting lobotomized onscreen…oh, come on…that just felt like the author of the book desperately trying to find some way to go so over the top for no other reason than to go over the top and see how much he could shock everyone. Admittedly, it did shock me — but in very much the same way that most South Park events shock me — an initial “Oh my god I can’t believe they’re actually doing this,” but that’s it — no staying power. The psychological games that Lecter played in SotL were much more effective for me on a long-term basis than the gruesomeness of the final act of Hannibal is going to be, and it comes off in the end as feeling cheap.

I will say that I think Julianne Moore was a fine choice to replace Jodi Foster — she imparted a lot more credibility to the character being the same person than I’ve seen in other situations where the actor changed from one movie to the next (a good example being Hannibal Lecter himself, who I find much more creepy in Manhunter than I do in SotL — not that Anthony Hopkins‘ performance is bad, I just prefer Brian Cox‘s portrayal).

I also think that Ridley Scott did a good job with what he was given. There were quite a few shots in the film that were visually pure Ridley Scott — even one passing underneath a bridge in D.C. that could almost have been lifted directly from the opening scenes of Bladerunner. I just don’t think the script gave much to work with, and I can say that I definitely agree with both Jonathan Demme and Jodi Foster’s decisions to pass up on returning to this film.

We’ll see how things end up after more people see the film, though…there’s a discussion on the Home Theater Forum discussing the film that I’ve stayed away from for now, but I think it’s time to dive in.

That’s it for tonight, though…going to skim through the Hannibal discussion on the HTF for a few minutes, then get to bed — that whole wonderful job thing kicks back in tomorrow morning.