Red Dragon

Dan Movie Reviews

Ahh, Hannibal Lecter. How you’ve changed. Brian Cox first portrayed Lecter in Michael Mann’s Manhunter, the 1986 adaptation of Thomas Harris‘ novel Red Dragon. In 1991, The Silence of the Lambs redefined not only Lecter, but the genre of the psychological thriller. After the rather crappy sequel Hannibal (the book was awful, so I blame the source material), there was talk of doing a 3rd film with Anthony Hopkins as Lecter – Red Dragon. Seemed like a bad idea, since you’re making a prequel to a film 10 years ago with the same actor – and he’s old. Then it was announced that Brett Ratner was going to direct it. Uh oh. In a weird twist, cinematographer Dante Spinotti left Star Trek: Nemesis and went to work on Red Dragon. Why is that weird? Well, Spinotti was the DP on Manhunter.

Wouldn’t ya know it, the film is actually good. Not great, but really
enjoyable and solid. The look and feel of it is more on par with The
Silence of the Lambs
, and I particularly enjoyed how they got
Anthony Heald and Frankie Faison to reprise their roles as Dr. Chilton
and Barney the Orderly (respectively). (Trivia note: Faison has been in
all four Lecter films; he was a cop in Manhunter.) Danny Elfman‘s score is quite good, and harkens back to a Howard Shore “style”, without losing his own touch nor sounding like Lambs, specifically. It’s dark, brooding, and works really well in the film. Ultimately, Manhunter and Red Dragon are two very different films from the same source – but Red Dragon has the
advantage of not feeling dated, and Hopkins does a bang-up job that is
fun to watch. (Also, look for Lalo Schifrin‘s cameo in the beginning as the conductor of the orchestra.)