Manhunter on BD!! But which version?
John S. Harris | Memphis, TN | 08/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Great collection of Hannibal Lector films. "Hannibal" wasn't as popular as others in the series, but it was a pretty decent film. The book, however, was much better and had a different ending, one that would DEFINITELY upset many fans of the films. Sorry, Clarice, but you were not the smartest person in the room.
The real joy in this set, however, is the added exposure this release gives to 1986's "Manhunter", the first film to feature Hannibal Lektor (spelling variation used in that film). Scottish actor Brian Cox originated the role that Anthony Hopkins made more famous 5 years later, but Cox's take on the character is not to be missed. Hopkins' Hannibal is imprisoned in a dark and dank dungeon. Cox's Hannibal is kept in a clean, sterile, all-white cell. No moody atmospherics used there. All the menace is in the performance, and there's quite a bit of menace, my friends.
Only question remaining is this: which version of "Manhunter" is it? There was the theatrical version (later released on VHS and LaserDisc) and no fewer than THREE different cuts of the film released on DVD over the years. For my money, the cut that was on VHS and LaserDisc (and the last of three DVD versions to be released) is by far the best one. I wonder if there is a way to find out which version is on Blu-Ray before I plunk my hard-earned on it.
Interesting trivia: In "Manhunter", William Petersen's character rescues Joan Allen's character from the clutches of the Tooth Fairy, this film's VERY creepy villain. Some 16 years later in Rod Lurie's movie "The Contender", Joan Allen's character is indirectly involved in a back-room scheme that publicly destroys Petersen's character's political career. They are sitting across from each other as the chips fall. I kept waiting for Petersen to look at Allen and say, "That's the thanks I get for saving your skinny butt from the Tooth Fairy? Some gratitude!" But he never does.
**** Follow-up ****
I read that the version of "Manhunter" included here is the original theatrical cut (the one originally released on VHS and LaserDisc). In my opinion, that is the best version."
Manhunter on Blu-Ray
Bryan Hadley | 09/19/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This release of Michael Mann's 'Manhunter' is about as perfunctory as it gets. It's packaged in a generic-looking triple pack with 'Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal' and there are absolutely no special features (there aren't even names for the chapter stops). It's a surprise, then, that it looks and sounds as good as it does. The movie is old (1986) and it's generally referred to as a footnote to the other two in this set. Still, I've seen it dozens of times over the years (on film, cable television, VHS, DVD) and this Blu-Ray picture is the sharpest I've ever seen it. The night time and darkly lit scenes are crisp; the lights and colors (sometimes used expressionistically) are clearer and show more detail than I've ever seen.
I'm not bothered by the lack of special features; this was such as unlikely candidate for Blu-Ray release, it's a treat just to have the movie in such nice shape."
Missing some films, but two great ones and one decent film i
Alexander M. Walker | Chicago, IL USA | 09/26/2009
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Thomas Harris created the greatest series of serial killer tales when he breathed life into the man known as Hannibal Lecter. The novels created a stir and led to a series of lucrative films, three of which are included on The Hannibal Lecter Collection Blu-ray. Starting with the fan-favorite though relatively obscure Manhunter, the collection leads into the popular The Silence of the Lambs and ends in the titular Hannibal. There's something to be said for offering the collection all in one purchase but even at the best moments of the films you can't help but overlook a glaring error on the part of Fox: there's not a single extra to be found on these discs. Not one. It's inexcusable to omit extras on Silence and Hannibal especially after putting out two-disc special editions for each with an entire disc devoted to special features. We all know Blu-ray discs have plenty of space, so it's nothing but a sign of laziness.
Michael Mann's original film deserves special recognition for being the first Hannibal Lecter movie ever made. Amongst the notable differences is the casting of Brian Cox as the fava bean eatin', Chianti sippin' mad man. Unlike the refined films that followed, Manhunter has a very moody and simmering feel pervading the proceedings. Where the soundtrack succeeds other elements fall flat. On one hand you have the perfect performance of Tom Noonan as Dollarhyde, affectionately known as the Tooth Fairy, who slaughters entire families according to a pattern that Will Graham (William Petersen) has to divine. Mann not only directed this stirring film, but he also wrote the screenplay which features lots of think-out-loud dialogue that will enrapture some while utterly annoying the rest.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Manhunter fans can bitch and whine all they want, but Jodie Foster's performance as Agent Starling complemented Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter perfectly. Each pushed the other's buttons with sublime ability and Director Jonathan Demme created the dark and brooding atmosphere that built upon Manhunter's tone while simultaneously building it into the story that would form the centerpiece for the series. Once again a serial killer has the FBI stumped and so Starling goes to the one man who has expert insight into the minds of the sick and twisted: Hannibal Lecter. Over time the two develop and rapport, but will it be enough to help Starling find Buffalo Bill before he kills another victim?
A decade after The Silence of the Lambs won its 5 Academy Awards (including Best Picture and Best Director), Ridley Scott took up the reins with a script penned by a man whose reputation equals Mann's: David Mamet. Where Foster created a Starling that was both sympathetic and steadfastly determined, Julianne Moore gives the character a much more vulnerable air. The performance never equals Foster's, but it's enough for the story that sees Hannibal Lecter freed from prison after the events of The Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal may be a step down in quality from Silence, but it sports a heavier cast including Gary Oldman and Ray Liotta in supporting roles. However, if Manhunter proved anything it's that Hannibal Lecter stories work just as well without a huge cast - so it's hard to say that it really helps the film.
The cinematography of Manhunter may be visually compelling, but it does little to help you overlook the fact that it hasn't benefitted much from the hi-def transfer. On the other hand Hannibal and Silence being much more recent have a really nice crisp and gritty look to make the format upgrade worthwhile.
The collection feels like a way to move copies of the first and third films of the series as they undoubtedly sell less than Demme's masterpiece. If you happen to recognize the beauty of Manhunter's cinematography and expert pacing then the set presents a nice incentive for the thrifty Blu-ray consumer. If you like all three - well what the hell are you waiting for?"