Red Dragon

Our scars have the power to remind us that the past was real.

A review by Mike Shea   Movie Rating: ( * * * * · )    DVD Rating: ( * * * * · )

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There was a pretty big difference between Manhunter. But when Manhunter was as good as it was, did it really need to be remade?

Silence of the Lambs is probably one of the best slasher movies ever made. It was gory and horrific. You were scared to death of Lectar, even more so than the serial killer they were really seeking. You cared for Clarice and were scared for her life. The detail of the autopsy of the first victim stuck with you, down to the slimy cocoon of the deaths-head moth.

Hannibal took a different approach. There was a lot of action, a pretty decent story, but you never really feared Hannibal. He was almost a good guy, mainly killing those who deserved it. He never really became a threat to our heroine. At no point did you really fear for her life. Probably the only scary part of the movie is video footage of him biting the face off of a nurse who just got a little too close to him. It wasn't a real bad movie, but it was quite different from Silence.

Red Dragon is something else. It takes a much deeper look at the killer himself, someone who you really do fear. It looks into the past, into the upbringing, that made him such a monster. He is physically huge, young, fast, and horrifyingly unable to grasp reality. He doesn't kill women and children, he "changes" them. The dark mind of the FBI profiler who must seek him is equally disturbing. How is he able to go so deep into the twisted mind of a psychopath without becoming one himself? Red Dragon adds one critical scene that was not in the original Manhunter, the original capture of Hannibal the Cannibal, but removes one critical scene as well, our hero's explanation of why he went crazy after Hannibal was put in prison.

Manhunter was an excellent movie. It was made recently and aside from the one excellent scene mentioned above, it does as much of a good job as Red Dragon does. I like the addition of Anthony Hopkins, but I still have to ask if it would not have been better to make the next Hannibal film instead of remaking an older one. One critical flaw was an overly complex ending with a little extra Hollywood switcharoo. It was out of place and made no sense from a character prospective. I didn't believe for a minute that the twisted mind of the Red Dragon would suddenly turn into the sharp mind of James Bond. The weapon that is finally employed against him is quite smart, almost making up for the extra who-done-it garbage. I liked the ending to Manhunter better.

The DVD is an excellent collectors edition missing only a DTS soundtrack. It has a very clear 2.35 to 1 16x9 enhanced picture and a full Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. There is a directors commentary included along with a second disc full of extra footage. Unfortunately they chose to release three different versions of the movie, so make sure to pick up the widescreen collectors version. How I wish Hollywood would take some responsibility and put out only single versions of movies in widescreen only.

Some day I hope to watch all three Hannibal movies in one day. I think they each are excellent films, although all three are very different from one another. I liked this movie better than I liked Hannibal but not as much as I liked Silence. It is a great movie, but I still feel that the talent was wasted making a remake of an already excellent film.