Such a description is very fitting of the film Hannibal (2001), the much-anticipated sequel to the iconic Silence of the Lambs, which saw Anthony Hopkins return to the role that made him a gazillionaire, Hannibal Lecter. Hannibal had been planned for several years, after Lambs author Thomas Harris announced he'd be writing a follow-up to the massive hit. Hopkins, Jodie Foster, and director Jonathan Demme jumped right on board, and the world waited patiently while the novel came to fruition. Unfortunately by the time of its publication in 1998, Demme declined to participate due to the novel's lurid tone, and Foster had already decided to direct her own film and would not be available. The scramble was on to replace two of the three integral pieces of the puzzle, and eventually Ridley Scott was attached to direct, with Julianne Moore replacing Foster as Clarice Starling.
So why does this movie qualify as Awesomely Shitty? In short, I find Hannibal a pretty infuriating example of a movie I was absolutely pumped for and ready to love, but so many things about it were executed just plain wrong. And a few of these things could've been fixed so easily, either with a quick rewrite or an edit. Before I get to all that negative stuff though, let's talk about what worked.
|Excuse me for a moment.....JULIANNE, I F*CKIN' LOVE YOU!!|
If Clarice had to be recast (and she did), I can't think of a better actress to inherit this amazing character than Julianne Moore. I've been a big Juli-fanne (TM pending) for a couple decades now, and so despite my reservations about Jodie Foster not returning I was pretty stoked to see Moore take the part. Julianne is one of the most versatile and consistently great actresses working today, who for years was undeservedly snubbed by Oscar until finally taking home the gold in 2015. Where Foster's Clarice was young and idealistic, Moore's incarnation of the character has become cynical and untrusting after a decade of petty FBI politics and unsavory treatment at the hands of the Old Boy Network. Over ten years she has earned the dubious honor of having more kills to her name than any other Agent, and at the start of the film she is forced to shoot yet another suspect when the uncooperative DC police undermine her authority in a drug raid. The Bureau uses this incident as an excuse to take her out of the field, and she's reassigned to the seemingly futile case of the long-disappeared Lecter. Moore plays Clarice as a woman who once dreamed of being an FBI agent, only to later find that the Bureau doesn't share her virtuous nature and in many ways isn't worthy of having her.