“Bowels In or Bowels Out?” Biting Wit in “Hannibal”

Tired of the wishy-washy movies about love and commitment and all that garbage? Well then, “Hello Clarice.”

Dr. Hannibal Lecter is back, and he’s hungry for some action in one of the most anticipated movies of the year, “Hannibal,” directed by Ridley Scott.

For those not familiar with the renowned fictional psychopath, a brief history may be in order.

As the creation of acclaimed novelist Thomas Harris, Dr. Hannibal Lecter is a genius, highly respected psychiatrist, and cannibal. The general public first met him in “Manhunter,” but his best-known film is “Silence of the Lambs” (a contemporary film masterpiece), where, from his maximum-security cell, Dr. Lecter aided FBI agent Clarice Starling in creating the psychological profile of a killer-at-large named Buffalo Bill. Lecter and Starling now continue their twisted partnership in “Hannibal,” six years after Lecter’s escape from prison.

After Starling is put on suspension for a drug bust gone horribly awry, she becomes the plaything of the disfigured lunatic millionaire, Mason Verger (an unrecognizable Gary Oldman), the only living victim of Lecter’s brutalities, who is dead set on revenge, no matter what the cost.

This movie is a disturbing romp through the mind of a madman and his victims that will leave you feeling one part nauseated and two parts unnerved. It’s by far one of the better movies to come out this year.

In the suspense-filled cat-and-mouse game of intrigue that ensues, “Hannibal” delivers all it promises: gruesome violence, freakish disfigurement, and some sweet meats to boot.

Anthony Hopkins is, as always, interesting and amazingly creepy reprising his role as Lecter. As he guts and garnishes his way through his victims, the audience crawls further into a mind of methodical madness.

Julianne Moore is perhaps an even better Clarice Starling than Jodi Foster (this is undoubtedly considered blasphemous in some circles). Moore is riveting and convincing as a woman torn between a duty taken away from her and her own personal history with the psychotic, cannibalistic psychiatrist. The intensity she displays in this role is definitely Oscar worthy, as is Hopkins’.

As the supporting character of Paul Krendler, a greedy FBI agent with too much say-so, Ray Liotta does very well. By no means is his performance award-winning, especially compared to Hopkins and Moore, but he holds his own and makes his character memorable.

This is horror and suspense at its finest. While you may wince several times throughout the movie, you will not be able to look away. Not only is the plot spellbinding, but, of course, the character of Hannibal, with his piercing blue eyes and raspy voice, will draw you into the world of the macabre whether you want to go or not.

While “Hannibal” is not for those with weak stomachs, it is an excellent movie based (somewhat loosely) on the equally long-awaited novel of the same name. Powerful images and themes are laced throughout the movie, and it proves to be a haunting experience.

If you are ready for an intelligent nightmare of a film, you are ready to devour “Hannibal.” You may not be able to finish your popcorn, however, so it is advised you don’t spend the money.