Hannibal ★★★½

The Silence of the Lambs was a movie about Clarice Starling, and its intelligent, even gaze reflected her own; Hannibal, on the other hand, is a stupid, arch, silly movie—and is likewise perfectly matched to its central character, who is himself stupid, arch and silly.

Fresh off the career-revitalizing success of Gladiator, Ridley Scott peacocks through all 131-minutes of the runtime, throwing out every slick trick in his arsenal; the overblown style here is so OTT that it's often comical, as is his blunt handling of the sexism Starling constantly encounters on the job. Scott knows this material is trash, however, as does Hopkins, and they both lean into it with gusto—the unintentional laughs go hand-in-hand with the intentional ones. Gary Oldman's slightly more photogenic Mitch McConnell doppelganger rolls around in his wheelchair as he plans a ludicrously over-elaborate revenge scheme involving giant, man-eating pigs, hissing "Cocksucker!" at Ray Liotta, or bemusedly recalling that cutting his face off with a piece of glass "seemed like a good idea at the time"; elsewhere Anthony Hopkins cuts off the top of Ray Liotta's skull and feeds him a piece of his own brain, before using his exposed cranium as a makeshift towel rack.

Three great scenes: the opening fish market shootout, with its slow motion cross-dissolves, and a gorgeous shot of a bloodied infant being bathed in a basin full of ice as shot from below; Julianne Moore's first meeting with Oldman's grotesque Mason Verger, who monologues proudly about his sex abuse of children "who would do anything for a candy bar", before boasting about his "immunity from the District Attorney's office, and immunity from the Risen Jesus"; and the finale, which is a droll masterpiece of gore (Scott's revised ending is also more respectful of its characters than the novel's infamously lurid one).