Oh, Hannibal. So full of promise. Two characters we love, duelling it out with some sort of unspeakable attraction hovering between them. And more of what's become the most famous performance of Anthony Hopkins' already impressive career. But...no. It's a crap film, with way too much time devoted to flash, kicking aside all of Ridley Scott's talk about image serving the story. It seems that as long as his visual ego is served everything will be fine. True, the film has a couple of points to recommend it, primarily Hopkins' performance. I find him to be much more relaxed in the role here than in Silence of the Lambs; he just seems to inhabit Lecter a lot better, with less work. On DVD, I spent a lot of time with the deleted scenes on the second disc which include a couple of nice little bits of Hopkins as manipulator. It's all material that truly doesn't fit in the film, because of the larger context, but that's a shame, as some of it is quite good. Not that it would help.
The one really solid bit in Hannibal is the Venice sequence. The simple cat-and-mouse setup works perfectly, especially since we've been waiting years to see Lecter calmy take someone down. We know what's going to happen, so there's an entertaining amount of suspense involving exactly how it's going to happen. Sadly they're really the only suspenseful scenes in the picture - other potential suspense sequences become instead spots where the audience is scared about how much gore they might see (not much, despite the complaints of many) but I can't really count that as suspense, more like anticipation of revulsion. It's kind of like waiting over the toilet to vomit. There's a better way to do things — splatter is well and good, but this could have been much more. It may be that I like the Venice scenes only in contrast to the rest of the film; in a better film that sequence wouldn't stand out as much.