Click here for IMDB's info on Hannibal

By Ethan Rogers

At the 1992 Academy Awards, the Silence of the Lambs snacked on its rivals like they were after-dinner mints, winning the near impossible grand-slam of motion pictures by sweeping the top five categories (Best Picture, Best Director-Jonathan Demme , Best Actor-Anthony Hopkins, Best Actress-Jodie Foster, Best Writing, and Best Screenplay based on Material from Another Medium- Ted Tally). That being said, Hannibal had one large muzzle to fill.

The story begins ten years after the death of Buffalo Bill and the escape of Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins). Agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore, taking over for Foster), fresh from the public disgrace of leading a botched FBI drug raid, must find and capture Lecter before he comes out of retirement. Starling must also apprehend Dr. Lecter before the vindictive multimillionaire Mason Verger (Lecter's only surviving victim, played by Gary Oldman) is able to exact his appropriately gruesome revenge.

If you were a fan of the first film, then Hannibal is worth seeing on an empty stomach. However, if you are looking for an instant classic like Silence , you will be disappointed. In addition to Moore's replacement of Foster, Ridley Scott (who just received a nomination for Gladiator ) takes over the director's chair for Demme. The result is an underdeveloped plot that survives solely on Hopkins' performance. Julianne Moore's attempt to mimic Foster misses the mark completely and falls flat. Oldman is entertaining as the disfigured Verger (picture a diced Fire Marshall Bill, but needs more screen time to flesh out (pardon the pun) his character.

Ultimately, the film is low on suspense, and uses gore for sheer shock value. Yet, despite the film's many problems, and the fact that Lecter loses some of his mystique, Hopkins is intriguing enough to make the movie worth viewing.