Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Red Dragon

Brett Ratnor, 2002 (7.6*)
This was author Thomas Harris' first of the Hannibal Lector novels, and it was actually filmed first as well, by Michael Mann as the tv movie looking Manhunter, with William Peterson. The film went unnoticed, and thankfully after the success of The Silence of the Lambs (1991), a best picture Oscar® winner, it was refilmed by director Ratnor in the style of Silence, with Anthony Hopkins repeating his role as Hannibal. Unfortunately the only other cast member aboard is Anthony Heald as Dr. Chilton, head of the prison where Lector is confined.

This film starts with Hannibal being discovered by FBI agent Will Graham, well played by Edward Norton, though it seems a bit odd seeing him on the proper side of the law - after Primal Fear and American History X (1998) , many viewers will expect Norton to be somewhat psychotic and out of control. Ralph Feinnes stars as the serial killer known as the Tooth Fairy, who, like real serial killer Ted Bundy, likes to bite his victims after they're dead.

This was a pretty eerie book, perhaps a better novel than Silence, yet the film isn't as creepy as Silence, perhaps due to Jonathan Demme not directing, perhaps due to the story. There is one major positive in this one: the painting Red Dragon by William Blake, the metaphysical artist, poet, and philosopher, which becomes the metaphor for the transformation of a human into a super-being, in this case a human-devouring dragon.

It certainly has an impressive supporting cast, as Emily Watson plays Feinnes blind girlfriend, and Philip Seymour Hoffman is a scandal rag journalist, for the "National Tattler" (read "Enquirer"), who likes to think he's a major crime reporter with national importance. Mary Louise Parker is unfortunately miscast as Graham's wife.

For fans of Harris' novels and Demme's film, this is a spine-tingling must-see, for others it will likely be a tossup.


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These are the individual film reviews of what I'm considering the best 1000 dvds available, whether they are films, miniseries, or live concerts. Rather than rush out all 1000 at once, I'm doing them over time to allow inclusion of new releases - in fact, 2008 has the most of any year so far, 30 titles in all; that was a very good year for films, one of the best ever.

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