Weekend Movies: Eating Up 'Hannibal,' 'Silverman'
LOS ANGELES - Hold onto your body parts because ''Hannibal'' the flesh eating cannibal strides into theaters this weekend to scare the pants off audiences and the box office hopes out of Friday's other new film, ``Saving Silverman.''
Audiences have not seen the sadistic Hannibal Lecter since the 1991 thriller ``The Silence of the Lambs'' which earned Anthony Hopkins an Oscar for portraying the mad doctor who develops a creepy relationship with FBI (news - web sites) Agent Clarice Starling.
In the original film, which also earned an Oscar for best picture, Agent Starling (Jodie Foster) was hunting down a serial killer who murdered young women and used their flesh to sew up a suit that would transform him from male to female.
The sophisticated Lecter, who was then incarcerated, was a master manipulator of the mind and provided clues that led Starling to the killer. But his involvement gave him the opportunity to escape prison by slicing off a guard's face and using it to cover his own.
``Hannibal'' finds the good doctor, a decade later, still on the lamb.
``We like Hannibal because he is essentially charming and seductive at the same time he is terrifying,'' said ``Hannibal'' director Ridley Scott. ``There is a perverse curiosity that makes us want to know what makes them tick.''
As with ``Lambs'', ``Hannibal'' is based on a book of the same name by Thomas Harris, and screenwriters David Mamet and Steve Zailian have remained true to the novel's story.
``Hannibal'' begins with Starling, now portrayed by Julianne Moore, taking the blame for a botched stakeout that led to five deaths, including that of a friend on the force.
At the urging of a wealthy North Carolina man and Lecter's only surviving victim, a faceless man named Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), the U.S. Justice Department (news - web sites) gets Starling reassigned to begin hunting down ``Hannibal the Cannibal.''
Fairly quickly, Lecter turns up in Florence, Italy, with a new name, fresh identity and his eye on a job as the curator of an art museum and library. His ambition draws the eye of a suspicious Italian investigator, played by veteran actor Giancarlo Giannini, who sees the opportunity to collect on a $3 million reward offered by Verger.
The Italian cop's inquiry sparks the curiosity of Starling, and what ensues is a cat-and-mouse game of catch the cannibal. Hannibal likes the new attention.
He's a little world weary,'' said Hopkins. ``Then, he hears they're after him and he thinks, 'Good. Back into action.'''
``Lambs,'' as directed by Jonathan Demme, combined a murder mystery with an eerie relationship that developed between Lecter and Starling. The terror of the climactic sequence when Starling hunts for the killer amid the pitch black of a shuttered home, made audiences scream.
``Hannibal'' is a different sort of story. Pardon the pun, but let's face it, audiences know who the killer is. ``Hannibal'' chooses to focus on an elaborate plot aimed at putting the killer and Starling in the same room for a final, gory scene that the picture's producers do not want reporters to write about.
What one can say is that it uses some pretty elaborate special effects, to which movie audiences must tip their hats -- if not toss their lunch.
``Hannibal'' is more about the gruesome nature of Lecter's murders and his thirst for blood, than about an FBI agent's hunt for a killer and a master's manipulation of her mind, which was what made ``Lambs'' an Oscar winner.
Because ``Lambs'' was so popular, box office watchers believe ''Hannibal'' will eat up a big chunk of the box office, leaving the scraps for ``Saving Silverman.''
``Silverman'' is one of those movies that uses relatively unknown, youthful actors in a ``hilarious'' (to quote the marketing materials) story about two friends who must save their rock'n'roll bandmate from a disastrous marriage.
Darren Silverman is portrayed by Jason Biggs of ``American Pie'' and his sidekicks in the band ``Diamonds in the Rough,'' which specializes in covering old Neil Diamond tunes, are J.D. McNugent (Jack Black) and Wayne Le Fessier (Steve Zahn).
The wicked bride-to-be, Judith, is portrayed by Amanda Peet and to get her out of Silverman's life, McNugent and Le Fessier undertake several ill-fated schemes that include fixing Silverman up with his ex high-school sweetheart who wants to be a nun and faking the death of Judith.
Only after Neil Diamond shows up on the scene do the buddies' antics finally end, and if that doesn't make audiences woof their cookies, then ``Hannibal'' probably will
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)