REVIEW: BRAM STOKERS DRACULA

CAST

Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Winona Ryder (Black Swan)
Anthony Hopkins (Westworld)
Keanu Reeves (Speed)
Richard E. Grant (Game of Thrones)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Billy Campbell (Rocketeer)
Sadie Frost (Shopping)
Tom Waits (Fight Club)
Monica Bellucci (The Brothers Grimm)

In 1462, Vlad Dracula, a member of the Order of the Dragon, returns from a victory against the Turks to find his wife, Elisabeta, has committed suicide after receiving a false report of his death. Enraged that his wife is now damned for committing suicide, Dracula desecrates his chapel and renounces God, declaring that he will rise from the grave to avenge Elisabeta with all the powers of darkness. In a fit of rage, he stabs the chapel’s stone cross with his sword and drinks the blood which pours out of it.
In 1897, newly qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker takes the Transylvanian Count Dracula as a client from his colleague R. M. Renfield, who has gone insane. Jonathan travels to Transylvania to arrange Dracula’s real estate acquisition in London, including Carfax Abbey. Jonathan meets Dracula, who discovers a picture of Harker’s fiancée, Mina and believes that she is the reincarnation of Elisabeta. Dracula leaves Jonathan to be raped and fed upon by his brides and sails to England with boxes of his native soil, taking up residence at Carfax Abbey. His arrival is foretold by the ravings of Renfield, now an inmate in Dr Jack Seward’s neighboring insane asylum.
In London, Dracula emerges as a wolf-like creature amid a fierce thunderstorm and hypnotically seduces, then rapes and bites Lucy Westenra, with whom Mina is staying while Jonathan is in Transylvania. Lucy’s deteriorating health and behavioral changes prompts Lucy’s former suitors Quincey Morris and Dr Seward, along with her fiancé, Arthur Holmwood, to summon Dr Abraham Van Helsing, who recognizes Lucy as the victim of a vampire. Dracula, appearing young and handsome during daylight, meets and charms Mina. When Mina receives word from Jonathan, who has escaped the castle and recovered at a convent, she travels to Romania to marry him. In his fury, Dracula transforms Lucy into a vampire. Van Helsing, Holmwood, Seward and Morris kill Lucy out of mercy the following night.
After Jonathan and Mina return to London, Jonathan and Van Helsing lead the others to Carfax Abbey, where they destroy the Count’s boxes of soil. Dracula enters the asylum, where he kills Renfield for warning Mina of his presence. He visits Mina, who is staying in Seward’s quarters while the others hunt Dracula, and confesses that he murdered Lucy and has been terrorizing Mina’s friends. A confused and angry Mina admits that she still loves him and remembers her previous life as Elisabeta. At her insistence, Dracula begins transforming her into a vampire. The hunters burst into the bedroom, and Dracula claims Mina as his bride before escaping. As Mina changes, Van Helsing hypnotizes her and learns via her connection with Dracula that he is sailing home in his last remaining box. The hunters depart for Varna to intercept him, but Dracula reads Mina’s mind and evades them. The hunters split up; Van Helsing and Mina travel to the Borgo Pass and the castle, while the others try to stop the gypsies transporting the Count.
At night, Van Helsing and Mina are approached by Dracula’s brides. They frighten Mina at first, but she gives into their chanting and attempts to seduce Van Helsing. Before Mina can feed on his blood, Van Helsing places a communion wafer upon her forehead, leaving a mark. He surrounds them with a ring of fire to protect them from the brides, then infiltrates the castle and decapitates them the following morning. As sunset approaches, Dracula’s carriage arrives at the castle, pursued by the hunters. A fight between the hunters and gypsies ensues. Morris is stabbed in the back during the fight and at sunset Dracula bursts from his coffin. Harker slits his throat while a wounded Morris stabs him in the heart with a Bowie knife. As Dracula staggers, Mina rushes to his defense. Holmwood tries to attack but Van Helsing and Harker allow her to retreat with the Count. Morris dies, surrounded by his friends.
In the chapel where he renounced God, Dracula lies dying in an ancient demonic form. He asks Mina to give him peace. They share a kiss as the candles adorning the chapel light up, Dracula turns back to his younger self, and Mina shoves the knife through his heart. The mark on her forehead disappears as Dracula’s curse is lifted. She decapitates him, and finally gazes up at the fresco of Vlad and Elisabeta ascending to Heaven together.
A stylish production that does not cut any corners in terms of substance, this superb retelling of the story of Bram Stoker’s lengthy novel, Francis Ford Coppola’s “Dracula” stands as one of the most ravishing and enduring films in cinematic history.

REVIEW: LAWLESS

CAST

Tom Hardy (Legend)
Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Jessica Chastain (A Most Violent Year)
Gary Oldman (Robocop)
Jason Clarke (Dawn of The Planet of The Apes)
Guy Pearce (Prometheus)
Mia Wasikowska (Alice In wonderland)
Dane DeHaan (Life After beth)
Lew Temple (Waitress)
Noah Taylor (Powers)

Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska in Lawless (2012)In 1931, the Bondurant brothers—Forrest, Howard, and Jack—are running a successful moonshine business in the Piedmont region of Virginia. The brothers use their gas station and restaurant as a front for their illegal manufacturing business with the assistance of Jack’s disabled friend and engineer, Cricket. Jack witnesses infamous mobster Floyd Banner shoot dead a rival in broad daylight.Shia LaBeouf in Lawless (2012)Jack returns to the gas station, where Forrest hires dancer Maggie as a waitress. Shortly afterward, the gas station is visited by newly arrived U.S. Marshal Charley Rakes, accompanied by the Virginia state’s attorney Mason Wardell, the sheriff, and the sheriff’s deputy. Rakes demands a cut of profits from all bootleggers within the county, including Forrest, who refuses and threatens to kill Rakes if he returns. Forrest implores his fellow bootleggers to unite against Rakes, but they refuse.Tom Hardy in Lawless (2012)Meanwhile, Jack lusts after Bertha, daughter of the local Brethren preacher. He attends their church service drunk, embarrassing himself but piquing her interest. Jack walks in on a visit from Rakes to Cricket’s house, and is beaten by him as a message to his brothers. That night, Forrest beats and throws out two customers who had been harassing and threatening Maggie. After Maggie resigns and leaves, Forrest is ambushed by the two men, who slit his throat. Maggie returns looking for Forrest but is beaten and raped by the men. She decides to keep the assault from Forrest. While Forrest recovers at a hospital, Jack decides to cross the county line with Cricket to sell their remaining liquor. They too are ambushed by the mobsters, led by Banner, but are spared when Jack reveals he is a Bondurant, whom Banner admires for their stance against Rakes. Banner reveals to Jack the address of his brother’s assailants, who were previous employees of his and currently work for Rakes.Shia LaBeouf in Lawless (2012)Forrest and Howard later find, torture and kill the men and send one of their testicles to Rakes. Banner becomes a regular client of the brothers, who have expanded their operation with multiple large stills deep in the woods, increasing its profitability. Jack continues to court Bertha. Maggie decides to return to Chicago, but Forrest convinces her to stay and provides her with a spare room. They develop a romantic relationship. On a day trip, Jack decides to show Bertha the brothers’ secret operation, but they are followed and ambushed by Rakes and his men. Howard, Jack, Cricket and Bertha all flee. The police take Bertha home but leave Cricket to Rakes, who murders him.Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in Lawless (2012)After Cricket’s funeral, the sheriff of Franklin County warns the Bondurants that Rakes and his men are blockading the bridge out of town, with Wardell calling in Prohibition agents to shut down the county’s moonshine businesses. Jack speeds off in Cricket’s car to confront Rakes. Howard and Forrest quickly follow to provide backup for Jack, to Maggie’s chagrin. She reveals she had delivered him to the hospital after the attack and Forrest deduces that she had been assaulted as well. Jack arrives at the bridge but is wounded by Rakes. Howard and Forrest arrive and a shootout ensues, with Forrest and his driver also shot by Rakes. A large convoy of bootleggers then join the shootout on the brothers’ side. Rakes is about to finish off the wounded Forrest but is shot in the leg by Sheriff Hodges in an effort to halt the bloodshed. Rakes shoots Forrest several more times before trying to escape. Jack and Howard confront Rakes and execute him together.Shia LaBeouf and Mia Wasikowska in Lawless (2012)Following the end of Prohibition in 1933, Wardell is arrested on corruption charges while the Bondurants are all married — Jack to Bertha, Forrest to Maggie, and Howard to a Martinsville woman — and working in legitimate occupations. During a festive reunion at Jack’s house sometime later, Forrest drunkenly ambles to a frozen lake and falls into the freezing water. Although he drags himself out, he later dies of pneumonia, putting to rest the legend of his invincibility.Tom Hardy and Jessica Chastain in Lawless (2012)Overall this is a well acted and slightly over violent action drama with a good story.

REVIEW: DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

CAST
Andy Serkis (The Hobbit)
Jason Clarke (Terminator Salvation)
Gary Oldman (Robocop 2014)
Keri Russell (Waitress)
Toby Kebbell (Fantastic Four 2015)
Kodi Smith-McPhee (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Kirk Acevedo (Fringe)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Keir O’Donnell (American Sniper)
J.D. Evermore (Cloak & Dagger)
Michael Papajohn (Spider-Man)
Ten years after the worldwide pandemic of the deadly ALZ-113 virus, or Simian Flu, human civilization is completely destroyed following martial law, civil unrest and the economic collapse of every country in the world. Over 90% of the human population has died in the pandemic, while apes with genetically enhanced intelligence have started to build a civilization of their own. Near the ruins of San Francisco, Caesar leads and governs an ape colony located in the Muir Woods. While walking through the forest, Caesar’s son Blue Eyes and his friend Ash encounter a human named Carver, who panics and shoots Ash, wounding him. Carver calls for the rest of his small party of armed survivors, led by a man named Malcolm, while Blue Eyes calls for the other apes. Caesar orders the humans to leave. The remaining humans in San Francisco, who are genetically immune to the virus, are living in a guarded and unfinished high-rise tower within the ruined city. Prompted by Koba, a scarred bonobo who holds a grudge against humans for his mistreatment, Caesar brings an army of apes to the city tower where he conveys the message that while the apes do not want war, they will fight to defend their home. He demands that the humans stay in their territory and states the apes will stay in theirs too.
Malcolm convinces his fellow leader Dreyfus to give him three days to reconcile with the apes to gain access to a hydroelectric dam in their territory, which could provide long-term power to the city. Dreyfus, distrustful of the apes, arms survivors using an abandoned armory. Malcolm then travels into the ape village, but is captured by gorilla guards, who bring him to Caesar. After a tense discussion, Caesar allows Malcolm to work on the dam’s generator, if they surrender their guns. As Malcolm, his wife Ellie and son Alexander work, they bond with the apes. Mutual distrust of both sides gradually subsides; the truce is endangered when Caesar’s infant son Milo discovers a shotgun smuggled in by Carver, but the two sides reconcile when Ellie offers to help treat Caesar’s ill wife Cornelia with antibiotics. Meanwhile, Koba discovers the armory and confronts Caesar, questioning his allegiance and taunting him over his “love” for humans. In response, Caesar severely beats Koba, but at the last moment refrains from killing him; adhering to his philosophy that “ape not kill ape”, Caesar hesitantly forgives Koba. The furious Koba then returns to the armory, where he steals an assault rifle and murders two human guards. Returning home, he secretly kills Carver, stealing his lighter and cap.
The dam is eventually repaired, restoring power to the city. During the celebration, Koba sets fire to the apes’ home, then, unseen to anyone else, shoots Caesar in the shoulder, causing him to fall from the settlement’s main tree. In the panic of the loss of the alpha and the fire, Koba takes charge, and having planted Carver’s cap at the scene of the shooting, urging the apes to fight against the humans. Malcolm’s group hides as Koba leads the apes into San Francisco. The apes plunder the armory and charge the tower’s gates. Despite heavy casualties, the apes breach the gates using a hijacked tank, overrun the tower and imprison all the humans as Dreyfus flees underground. When Ash refuses Koba’s orders to kill unarmed humans, citing Caesar’s teachings, Koba kills Ash and imprisons all those known to be loyal to Caesar.
Malcolm’s group finds Caesar barely alive and transport him to his former home in San Francisco. Caesar reveals to Malcolm that Koba shot him, realizing his notion that apes were better than humans was naïve and that apes can be as violent as humans. Malcolm leaves the group and heads to the city to find medical supplies for Caesar. While looking for medical supplies, Malcolm encounters Blue Eyes; disenchanted with Koba’s leadership, the young ape spares Malcolm’s life and returns to the house with him, where he reconciles with his father. Caesar grows nostalgic watching a video clip from his childhood of his former owner and father figure Will Rodman on his old camcorder as Malcolm learns of Caesar’s past. A plan is put into action: Blue Eyes returns to the tower and frees the caged humans and apes loyal to Caesar, then Malcolm leads the apes, unseen, into the tower from below. After accomplishing this, Malcolm encounters Dreyfus, who informs him that his men have made radio contact with military survivors at a base to the north, who are on their way to help fight the apes. Caesar confronts Koba at the top of the tower, but as they battle, Dreyfus detonates C-4 charges he has planted beneath the tower. The resulting explosion kills him and collapses part of the tower. Caesar overpowers Koba, with Koba hanging over the edge of the tower. Pleading for his life, Koba reminds Caesar that apes do not kill apes, but Caesar states that Koba is not an ape and lets him fall to his death.
Malcolm informs Caesar of the impending arrival of human military reinforcements and both lament the lost opportunity for peace. Caesar tells Malcolm that the humans will never forgive the apes for the war they started and advises him to leave with his family for safety as the two of them acknowledge their friendship. As Malcolm disappears into the shadows, Caesar stands before a kneeling mass of apes, awaiting the war to come.
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The exhilarating action scenes and set pieces are of a grander scale than in ‘Rise’ and with the use of some truly spectacular digital effects that are as realistic as any you will see, makes for an absorbing visual feast. But the finest achievements of the film lie in it’s thoughtful, emotional core, that cleverly aligns our sympathies with both apes and humans and makes for a moving and thoroughly rewarding experience that is far removed from the one-dimensionality of today’s brainless blockbusters.

REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE

 

CAST

Daniel Radcliffe (Horns)
Rupert Grint (Cherrybomb)
Emma Watson (This Is The End)
Robbie Coltrane (Flash Gordon)
Michael Gambon (Sleepy Hollow)
Ralph Fiennes (In Burges)
Brendan Gleeson (The Smurfs 2)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Gary Oldman (Red Riding Hood)
Miranda Richardson (Sleepy Hollow)
Alan Rickman (Alice Through The Looking Glass)
Maggie Smith (Clash of The Titans)
Timothy Spall (Vanilla Sky)
Frances de la Tour (Into The Woods)
David Tennant (Jessica Jones)
Bonnie Wright (Before I Sleep)
Mark Williams (Agent Cody Banks 2)
Robert Pattinson (Twilight)
Tom Felton (The Flash)
Katie Leung (One Child)
Matthew Lewis (Happy Valley)
David Bradley (Game of Thrones)
Warwick Davis (Leprechaun)
Ian Whyte (Game of Thrones)

Harry Potter dreams of Frank Bryce, who is killed after overhearing Lord Voldemort discussing plans with Peter Pettigrew and another man. Harry attends the Quidditch World Cup with the Weasleys, but after the game, Death Eaters terrorise the spectators, and the man who appeared in Harry’s dream summons the Dark Mark.

At Hogwarts, Albus Dumbledore introduces ex-Auror Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. He also announces that the school will host the legendary event known as Triwizard Tournament where three magical schools are going to compete against each other in a very deadly competition by facing three dangerous challenges. The champions are selected by the Goblet of Fire: Cedric Diggory of Hufflepuff is chosen to represent Hogwarts, Viktor Krum will represent Durmstrang Institute, and Fleur Delacour will represent Beauxbatons Academy of Magic. The Goblet unexpectedly chooses a fourth champion: Harry Potter. Dumbfounded, Dumbledore is unable to pull the underage Harry out of the tournament, as the Ministry official Barty Crouch Sr. insists that the champions are bound by a contract, and therefore, Harry is invited to compete. This makes Harry’s best friend Ron Weasley jealous of him.

For the tournament’s first task, the champions must each retrieve a golden egg guarded by a dragon. Harry succeeds after he summons his broomstick to retrieve the egg, which contains information about the second challenge. Shortly after, another event known as the Yule Ball dance takes place, during which Harry’s crush Cho Chang attends with Cedric, and Hermione Granger attends with Viktor, which makes Ron jealous of Viktor. During the second task, the champions are instructed to dive underwater to rescue their mates. Harry comes out in 3rd place but is placed second behind Cedric due to his “moral fiber”. Afterwards, Barty Crouch Sr. is found dead by Harry. Harry visits Dumbledore at his office, and while waiting for him, he discovers a Pensieve, which holds Dumbledore’s memories. Inside it, Harry witnesses a trial in which Igor Karkaroff (Durmstrang Institute’s Headmaster) confessed to the Ministry of Magic names of other Death Eaters, after Voldemort’s defeat. He named Severus Snape as one, but Dumbledore defended him; he then named Barty Crouch Jr. Barty Crouch Sr. was left devastated, and his son was taken to Azkaban. After exiting the Pensieve, Harry deduces that the man he has seen in his dreams with Voldemort is Barty Crouch Jr.

In the third and final task, the competitors are placed inside a hedge maze and must reach the Triwizard Cup. Viktor, under the influence of the Imperius Curse, incapacitates Fleur. After Harry saves Cedric when the maze attacks him, the two claim a draw and grab the cup together, which turns out to be a Portkey and transports the two to a graveyard, where Pettigrew and Voldemort are waiting. Pettigrew kills Cedric with the Killing Curse and performs a ritual using a bone of Voldemort’s father, Pettigrew’s flesh and Harry’s blood, which rejuvenates Voldemort, who then summons the Death Eaters. Voldemort releases Harry in order to beat him in a duel to prove he is the better wizard. Harry is unable to defend himself, but tries the Expelliarmus charm at the same moment Voldemort attempts the Killing Curse. Their wands do not work against each other, and Voldemort’s wand is forced to disgorge the last spells it performed. This results in shadow impressions of the people he murdered appearing in the graveyard, including Harry’s parents and Cedric. This provides an ample distraction to Voldemort and his Death Eaters, allowing Harry to escape with Cedric’s body by grabbing the Portkey.

Upon his return, Harry tells Dumbledore that Voldemort has returned and is responsible for Cedric’s death. Moody takes a devastated Harry back to his room to interrogate him about Lord Voldemort, where he inadvertently blows his cover when he asks Harry whether there were “others” in the graveyard, despite Harry never saying that he was transported there. Exposed, Moody reveals that he was the one who put Harry’s name in the Goblet of Fire, and that he had been guiding and manipulating Harry throughout the tournament to ensure that he would win, so Voldemort would take Harry’s blood to return. Moody then tries to kill Harry, only for Harry to be saved by Dumbledore, Severus Snape, and Minerva McGonagall. The teachers force Moody to drink Veritaserum, a truth telling potion where it is revealed that he isn’t Moody, and that the real Moody is imprisoned in a magical trunk. The false Moody’s Polyjuice Potion wears off and he is revealed as Barty Crouch Jr., working for Voldemort. Crouch Jr. is sent back to Azkaban, from which he had escaped.

In the morning, Dumbledore reveals to the students that Voldemort killed Cedric, although the Ministry of Magic is against this. Later, Dumbledore visits Harry in his dormitory, and apologizes to him for the dangers he had to go through. Harry reveals that he saw his parents in the graveyard; Dumbledore names this effect as “Priori Incantatem”. Dumbledore acknowledges that even though Harry’s parents appeared through Voldemort’s wand, no spell can awaken the dead. Dumbledore reminds Harry that he is not alone. Soon after, Hogwarts, Durmstrang and Beauxbatons bid farewell to each other.For fans of the books, you should find this adaptation a commendable reflection of Rowling’s tale. Naturally, some parts had to be modified or cut entirely – there’s no way to avoid that without making it a 10 hour movie – but the parts that were cut were either not critical to the story line, or will be easy to account for in the films to come. Unless you’re an obsessive nitpicker about every last detail, you should find this a satisfactory film version of Goblet of Fire.

REVIEW: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

CAST

Bruce Willis (Sin City)
Gary Oldman (Batman Begins)
Ian Holm (The Hobbit)
Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil)
Chris Tucker (Rush Hour)
Luke Perry (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Brion James (BLade Runner)
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister (Jackie Brown)
Lee Evans (There’s Something About Mary)
John Neville (Odyssey 5)
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)

In 1914, aliens known as Mondoshawans arrive at an ancient Egyptian temple to collect, for safekeeping, the only weapon capable of defeating a great evil that appears every 5,000 years. The weapon consists of four stones, representing the four classical elements, and a sarcophagus containing a fifth element in the form of a human, which combines the power of the other four elements into a divine light capable of defeating the evil. The Mondoshawans promise their human contact, a priest from a secret order, that they will come back with the element stones in time to stop the great evil when it returns.

In 2263, the great evil appears in deep space in the form of a giant ball of black fire, and destroys an attacking Earth spaceship. The Mondoshawans’ current contact on Earth, priest Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm), informs the President of the Federated Territories (Tom Lister Jr.) of the history of the great evil and the weapon that can stop it. As the Mondoshawans return to Earth they are ambushed by Mangalores, a race hired by the industrialist Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman), who has been instructed by the great evil to acquire the stones.

The Mondoshawans’ spacecraft is destroyed, though the stones are not on board; the only item recovered is a hand of The Fifth Element. Scientists take it to a New York City laboratory and use it to reconstruct a humanoid woman who takes the name Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). Terrified of the unfamiliar surroundings, she escapes confinement and jumps off a ledge, crashing into the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis), a former major in the special forces.

Dallas delivers Leeloo to Cornelius and his apprentice, David (Charlie Creed-Miles), whereupon Cornelius learns that the Mondoshawans entrusted the four element stones to the alien Diva Plavalaguna (Maïwenn Le Besco), an opera singer. Zorg kills many of the Mangalores because of their failure to obtain the stones, but their compatriots determine to seize the artifacts for themselves. Upon learning from the Mondoshawans that the stones are in Plavalaguna’s possession, General Munro (Brion James), Dallas’ former superior, recommissions Dallas and orders him to travel undercover to meet Plavalaguna on a luxury intergalactic cruise; Dallas takes Leeloo with him. Meanwhile, Cornelius instructs David to prepare the ancient temple designed to house the stones, then stows away on the space plane transporting Dallas to the cruise liner.MV5BZDNjYTJiMzYtM2RhOC00NGY3LWE1ZjEtZjFjZDU1MjM4MjZkXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMDc2NTEzMw@@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1427,1000_AL_

Plavalaguna is killed when the Mangalores attack the ship, but Dallas succeeds in retrieving the stones. During his struggle with the Mangalores he kills their leader. After shooting and seriously wounding Leeloo, Zorg finds a carrying case which he presumes contains the stones, and takes it back to his spacecraft, leaving behind a time bomb that forces the liner’s occupants to evacuate. Discovering the case to be empty, Zorg returns to the ship and deactivates his bomb, but a dying Mangalore sets off his own device, destroying the ship and killing Zorg. Dallas, Cornelius, Leeloo, and talk-show host Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) escape with the stones aboard Zorg’s spacecraft.

The four join up with David at the weapon chamber in the Egyptian temple as the great evil approaches. They activate the stones, but having witnessed and studied so much violence, Leeloo has become disenchanted with humanity and refuses to cooperate. Dallas confesses his love for Leeloo and kisses her. In response, Leeloo combines the power of the stones and releases the divine light; the great evil, now dormant, becomes another moon in Earth orbit.Luc Besson has created a visually stunning piece of work. The cinematography is vibrant and colourful and the costumes (designed by Jean Paul Gaultier) have to be seen to be believed; the special effects are of the quality you would expect and add to the whole experience. This is a fast paced movie that grabs you and doesn’t let go from start to finish.

REVIEW: HANNIBAL (2001)

CAST

Anthony Hopkins (The Mask of Zorro)
Julianne Moore (Carrie)
Gary Oldman (Batman Begins)
Ray Liotta (Killig Them Softly)
Frankie Faison (Luke Cage)
Giancarlo Giannini (Man on Fire)
Francesca Neri (Collateral Damage)
Željko Ivanek (Heroes)
Ajay Naidu (The Wrestler)

When Thomas Harris’s follow-up to “Silence of the Lambs” was announced, it was obvious that the filmed version would be soon announced. Yet, the pieces didn’t fall into place quite as easily as those involved would have hoped. Anthony Hopkins was in, but Jodie Foster was in and out and in, then out again – instead, she chose to direct her own feature and Julianne Moore was brought in. Original “Silence” director Jonathan Demme passed, so producer Dino De Laurentis (who was working on “U-571”) went a short distance to the “Gladiator” set, where director Ridley Scott said yes to the film. The screenplay was credited to two of the most highly regarded screenwriters in the business, Steven Zaillian and David Mamet, although apparently, Mamet’s work did not end up in the final draft – he received credit due to guild regulations.Although the final feature met with mixed reactions, it was a suprising success in this era of crackdowns on the “R” rating. Scott’s picture is a different creature altogether; a horror film wrapped in grand elegance. Scott brought two “Gladiator” collaborators to the party – cinematographer John Mathieson and editor Petro Scalia, and both do excellent work. The movie is also different in terms of set-up; where Clarice was the main character in “Silence”, she becomes a supporting figure here. As Hannibal himself has been let free, the story focuses on him instead. After Clarice (Moore) is demoted (her basement lab looks like Mulder’s from “The X-Files”, while Moore reminded me of Scully at times during the early scenes) after a botched drug bust, we are launched into the main story.A previous victim of Lecter who has escaped, Mason Verger (an uncredited Gary Oldman), wants revenge on Lecter. It’s Lecter himself though, that invites Clarice back into the game. The original picture had Lecter being simply evil, while here has gotten himself back out into the world – living in Florence, Italy he has become an art curator and occasionally stops off for a coffee. Yet, there’s another individual on the hunt already in the neighborhood. An Italian detective named Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) wants the reward for Hannibal’s capture, which turns out to be a predictably bad idea. Even though the result of his chase seems rather obvious, I’ll give Scott credit for maintaining a respectable amount of tension throughout these scenes.Anthony Hopkins in Hannibal (2001)Also, I’ll give Scott credit for a terrific first half. The picture was not exactly what I’d been expecting from it; although there is some definite violence early in the picture, the film maintains a fine level of tension.The performances are generally excellent. Moore’s ability and range are once again remarkable, allowing herself to convincingly become a dark and lonely character – she does everything she can with a character that is less involved this time around. Hopkins is, as usual, an engaging villian who, now unleashed into the world, plans out his crimes, allowing the tension to build as to whether or not he’s going to go after his persuers.The film is impressive, with stunning cinematography, amazing production design, great editing and a typically great score from Hans Zimmer.  Hannibal is a fine sequel to the Silence of the Lambs and is a must see for any Hannibal fans