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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Based upon the wonderful, well-written novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris, this is a superior and chilling thriller. Grim and gripping, it features Edward Norton in the role of troubled, retired FBI agent, Will Graham, who is called back to service in order to track down a bizarre serial killer, known as the "Tooth Fairy". It appears that Graham has the uncanny ability...
Published on April 7, 2003 by Lawyeraau

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Finish your food. You've outstayed your welcome.
Okay, lets get this straight. This movie is not only based upon a novel, its also a remake of another movie. Hey, lets not forget its a sequel as well. Hold on a minute, its also a prequel. Wow, what other movie could boast such an interesting history? The only problem this movie has is that it stinks like the dead bobies stuffed in Buffalo Bills' backyard...
Published on February 2, 2009 by Matt Skidmore

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43 of 46 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ANTHONY HOPKINS STEALS THE SHOW..., April 7, 2003
This review is from: Red Dragon [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Based upon the wonderful, well-written novel "Red Dragon" by Thomas Harris, this is a superior and chilling thriller. Grim and gripping, it features Edward Norton in the role of troubled, retired FBI agent, Will Graham, who is called back to service in order to track down a bizarre serial killer, known as the "Tooth Fairy". It appears that Graham has the uncanny ability to get into a killer's mindset and figure out what his next move might be. It is as if he and the killer become one. In his preparation for this, Graham even consults the imprisoned Hannibal Lecter (yes, THE Hannibal Lecter), deliciously played by Anthony Hopkins. Unfortunately for Graham, Hannibal has not forgotten that Graham was responsible for his changed circumstances.

It is Hannibal Lecter, after all, who was the catalyst for Will Graham's retirement. The viewer is treated to scenes of Lecter's life, before he was revealed to be Hannibal the Cannibal, one of the sickest serial killers ever to strike. The viewer sees the renowned psychiatrist in his milieu as an erudite, cultured, and wealthy patron of the arts. A noted gourmand, Dr. Lecter liked nothing better than to give intimate dinner parties for the favored few. Of course, some of the ingredients used for his dinners were best left unsaid. It was nice to see the always excellent John Rubenstein in the small role of a dinner guest, heaping accolades upon Hannibal for his dinner parties.

The movie is compelling and, at all times, gripping. Anthony Hopkins reprises his career defining role and steals the show (Really, Hannibal Lecter has become all but a cottage industry for him!). With a twinkle in his eye, he is, in his low key way, deliciously malevolent. Edward Norton, one of the best young actors around, gives a decent and sensitive portrayal of Will Graham, the angst ridden former FBI agent and profiler, but lacks the grittiness and hard-edged veneer that the role really demands. He also simply looks too young and soft for the role. Ralph Fiennes gives a fine performance as the tormented Francis Dolarhyde, but his portrayal is hampered by the fact that too little is revealed in the film about what makes him tick.

Emily Watson affectingly plays a blind woman who becomes romantically involved with Francis Dolarhyde. It is her involvement with him that helps bring the film to its stunning conclusion. Moreover, Ms. Watson is a wonderfully talented British actress who manages to get her American accent down pat. Good performances by Harvey Keitel, as Graham's former boss, and Mary Louise Parker, as Graham's wife, round out this fine, ensemble cast.

This film is a taut, unnerving psychological thriller that is subject to comparison to its 1986 predecessor "Manhunter". Having seen both, I call it a draw. This current version had a bigger budget, so obviously it has better production values. Also, the opening scenes in the current version are more interesting than those in the 1986 one. Music, however, was used to much better effect in the earlier version. Moreover, the final scenes in the earlier version were much better than in this later version, as they were much more suspenseful. Both films, however, are well worth watching. Do yourself a favor and view both. Then, judge for yourself.
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61 of 71 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Until the End....., October 5, 2002
Daniel V. Reilly (Upstate New York, United States) - See all my reviews
When I first saw Michael Mann's adaptation of Thomas Harris' novel "Red Dragon", I was blown away; I'd never encountered a character as evil and wiley as Hannibal Lector (Played by Brian Cox.)....Years later, I read Red Dragon and The Silence of the Lambs back to back, and was blown away again. Especially by Red Dragon- The end of the book was SO powerful and dark that upon finishing the book, I sat in stunned silence for the rest of the train ride home. How could they have NOT used that end in Manhunter???
Well, here's more of the same....Red Dragon is perfect in nearly every way, except for the ending, which, while retaining the same setting, opts for a more "Crowd-pleasing" finale...and loses that punched-in-the-gut feeling that the novel gives.
The cast is top-notch, as one would expect from actors the caliber of Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman (Especially good as the loathsome Freddie Lounds..), etc. Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, and Anthony Hopkins are all spellbinding in their respective roles as Fed, Serial Killer, and Imprisoned Cannibal, and the actual depiction of the capture of Lector, as well as his infamous dinner party is a real treat. I just couldn't get past that ending, though. Ever since Hannibal came out, I've been looking forward to the promised "Faithful" adaptation of Red Dragon. This isn't it. It's a well-made thriller with a cop-out ending. See the movie, by all means; If you liked the previous Hannibal films, you'll like this. But then do yourself a favor and read the book, to see the TRUE finale to the Will Graham/Tooth Fairy saga.
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35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Red Dragon 4 � Manhunter 4, November 23, 2002
Mr. N. Carnegie (Kirkcaldy, Scotland, UK.) - See all my reviews
The debate has raged long and hard as to which of the adaptations of Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon is superior with most people plumping for whichever version they saw first. For this is the problem with remakes (or watching a movie having already enjoyed the novel) and particularly with thrillers, where it's the twists and turns that dictate just how much viewing pleasure and excitement there is for the audience. So at the end of the day being objective about which movie is better and how to rate each one is very difficult (and perhaps all that serves to prove is the pointlessness of the debate) but for what it's worth here goes...
In a third outing as the world's favourite cannibal Anthony Hopkins returns in this prequel to "The Silence of The Lambs", complete with a ponytail in a new and very clever opening sequence that pits Hannibal Lecter against the FBI's special agent Will Graham (Edward Norton). Directed by Brett Ratner, (a surprise choice given that his last two outings were The Family Man and Rush Hour 2), Red Dragon sets out to recapture the tension of Jonathan Demme's multi-oscar winning "Silence of The Lambs" and to this end the sets of Hannibal Lecter's prison cell have been expertly recreated. Anthony Heald makes a return as the disgustingly sleazy asylum boss, Dr Chilton and Anthony Hopkin's part is inflated from both the novel of its origin and Manhunter. For make no mistake, this is (unlike Ridley Scott's Hannibal) not a Hannibal Lecter film, just as it was never a Hannibal Lecter novel. Instead the focus of Red Dragon is actually Will Graham's showdown with his own inner demon's and another serial killer, Francis Dollarhyde, christened the Tooth Fairy by the movie's tabloid press and played expertly by the ever excellent Ralph Fiennes, complete with a body toned by months of lifting weights and an enormous tattoo, (present in the novel but absent from the book) of the eponymous Red Dragon, covering his entire back.
But is it any good? Well, I genuinely believe that how much you enjoy this movie wholly depends on whether or not you have previously seen and enjoyed Michael Mann's original cult movie of the same novel, because for the most part both movies follow the same path and in places the same script. Being objective, and trying to put aside the baggage of having both seen and enjoyed Manhunter (I own it on VHS), I have to admit that this is by Hollywood standards a superior thriller with an excellent cast. As previously mentioned, to my mind Ralph Fiennes is both the star and strength of this movie. However, despite being an enormous fan of Edward Norton's previous work (Primal Fear, American History X, Fight Club, The Score etc.), I would have to say that he was miscast as special agent Will Graham in that his appearance is too preppy and his portrayal seems to lack the inward depth of a man tortured by his own thoughts and the mental scars of his previous (mental and physical) duel with Dr Lecter. Don't get me wrong Edward Norton's performance is fine but it just lacks that spark and charisma of his other roles, which I cant help but feel is partly as a result of being miscast and partly as the result of some uninspired by the numbers direction by Brett Ratner. As for Anthony Hopkin's, he is surprisingly forgettable. His part is little more than a cameo, where he only just steers clear of hamming it up and fails to chill in the same way as he did in his Oscar winning performance back in 1991's Silence of The Lambs. Harvey Keitel meanwhile is as reliable as ever as Graham's FBI boss Jack Crawford but although fine (scant praise for such fine actors) Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Emily Watson are only required to sleepwalk through their parts on cruise control. This is perhaps because they have small and undemanding roles with not enough character development or screen time to get their teeth into the parts. That aside there is also much to recommend Red Dragon, other than Ralph Fiennes excellent performance. The pre-credits sequence for example and the finale are both very thrilling and very enjoyable and there are several other scenes throughout the movie, particularly those featuring Francis Dollarhyde's character development, that were absent in Manhunter but more prevelant in the novel, which positively add to the viewing experience.
The debate will no doubt rage long and hard but in the end which one is better is a pointless argument and a moot point. The best way to watch either movie is with an open mind but once you have seen either version its probably best to avoid the other, as your perceptions of the plot, the characters and their appearance will in all likelihood be indelibly set, thus spoiling your enjoyment of any other version. I'm scoring this one a draw, four stars ****.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Finish your food. You've outstayed your welcome., February 2, 2009
Matt Skidmore (Kinver, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Red Dragon (Widescreen Collector's Edition) (DVD)
Okay, lets get this straight. This movie is not only based upon a novel, its also a remake of another movie. Hey, lets not forget its a sequel as well. Hold on a minute, its also a prequel. Wow, what other movie could boast such an interesting history? The only problem this movie has is that it stinks like the dead bobies stuffed in Buffalo Bills' backyard.

Maybe that was a little unfair. This film does deliver gothic and eery thrills from the beginning, a stellar A-list cast that at least does its best with the tired material on offer. Its just that it has an air of 'been there, done that' about it, which ultimately undoes any obvious effort that has been made by the filmmakers to try and create something mildly entertaining.

The story concerns a world weary FBI serial killer expert Will Graham (a miscast Edward Norton), who has taken early retirement after successfully tracking down cannibal killer Hannibal Lecter. He is coaxed back onto the job by the appearance of new nutjob on the block, cheekily nicknamed 'The Tooth Fairy'. The film flicks back and forth between part crime/police thriller to gothic horror, and sits uneasily as a straight genre picture. The problems with this film are legion, as compared with Michael Manns' original movie 'Manhunter' which was always stylish, scary and demanding. Maybe I am too much of a fan of that movie to appreciate this incarnation, but this one is pretty boring to watch, whereas Manns' film is a juggernaut of fast cutting, cool cinematography and excellent acting from the cast. Compare Edward Nortons' wimpish and dull portayal of Graham to William Petersons' angst ridden and determined expert, who could easily slide into the dark side of his persona at any minute. At around an hour into the 'Red Dragon', I just wanted Norton to stop the investigation, pack up his bags, head back to his wife and maybe get his foppish hair cut. Not exactly the kind of guy I needed to be rooting for. And as for Ralph Fiennes as Dollarhyde? Okay, he was pretty good - actually the best thing about this movie. His 'relationship' with Reba McClane (an always good Emily Watson) is sincere and creepy, but after the powerhouse performance of Tom Noonan as Dollarhyde in the original and his freaky interaction with Joan Allen as Reba, this comes off as good effort, but not good enough. Oh, did I mention the poster boy himself? Yeah, Hannibal Lecter is given a more substantial role this time, but as usual Anthony Hopkins (one of the best brit actors around) hams up this role within an inch of its life. Where choice lines like 'I have oodles of time' would have had audiences crawling the walls in 'The Silence of the Lambs', this time they only irritate and annoy. It seems that producer Dino De Laurentiis is trying to create a $100 million dollar Freddy Krueger for todays' teen-obsessed market audience.

Ted Tallys' screenplay is predestrian at best, failing to inject any new or interesting lifts into the script and one wishes he would have finished his association with Lector at 'Silence'. As I said before, 'Rush Hour' helmer Brett Ratners' direction is solid, if uninspired, and one wishes he could have bought that energy he has displayed on his previous efforts with him (mind you, saying that - after his travesty 'XMEN 3' - he may as well give up altogether). The production design is suitably over the top, with creepy gothic houses and the cinematography is laced with 'Seven'- lite flourishes and nods to the original 'Silence of the Lambs'.

So then, a dull big budget mechanical exercise made with the only intention to make a lot of money for studio execs. Steer clear, and get 'Manhunter' special edition to see how this book should be filmed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It certainly rivals its predesceccors, November 27, 2002
If you close your eyes and simply listen, the first precise five minutes of Red Dragon are divine. Rattner tells you what the rest of the film is going to be like instantly with a few credits and then with out any fading or build up, throwing you onto the stage of the Baltimore Orchestra House, with the Philharmonic (actually the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra) playing a beautiful rendition of Mendelssohn's Scherzo from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Ratner makes the shots of the musicians last slightly longer than you would like so as to make you wonder exactly why your watching this, but then the camera begins to float up to the conductor, past him, towards the stage lights and slowly down into an audience full of heads. And there, slightly more well lit than the other members of the audience sits one of the most infamous killers in cinema history, hanging on every note of the ill fated flautist, Benjamin Raspail. The opening scene featuring Edward Norton capturing Anthony Hopkins' Lecter is amazing, especially as it was completely up to Ted Tally to come up with it, given Thomas Harris never really created an appropriate scene. The opening titles, accompanied by Elfman's dark and sickening score is incredibly useful and fulfilling, showing a series of newspaper clippings charting the capture of Dr Lecter up until his trial and life imprisonment.
The films low point is clearly after this, the initial set up and the dialogue between Kietel and Norton. The scenes of Norton wandering around the victims homes is very nerve-racking and tense, always having you on the edge of your seat and some of the scenes are disturbing, especially Norton's flashes of the female victims.
As an avid fan of Thomas Harris' greatest creation, it is great to see Hopkins return to portray Hannibal Lecter for what is presumably and hopefully, for the sake of not ruining a great trilogy, the last time. The only thing disappointing is Ratner has made such an effort to make Fiennes scenes and any other scenes not featuring Hopkins so serious and violent that whenever Hannibal Lecter is on screen, the audience just laugh at every line he says. An audience watching The Silence of the Lambs (1991) eleven years ago would have been silent during every word he says but unfortunately, due to his lack of boundaries during Hannibal (2001), Lecter has become a sort of caricature and is now considered a somewhat humorous figure.
The story picks up pace the moment the note from Fiennes is discovered in Lecter's cell, and the scenes in particular especially between Dolarhyde & Reba and also Dolarhyde and Lounds are incredibly tense and frightening. The twist at the end, sticking to Harris novel much more, is hard to see coming unless you have read the book and are familiar with the general story. The final showdown between Norton and Fiennes is also just as good as any other scene in the film, although the additional finale with Hopkins is the perfect send off if this really is Lecter's final big screen adventure.
Ratner and Tally have broken several rules however and one scene in particular which annoyed me is the part in which Lecter is cooked a gourmet meal in his cell as this just ruins the mood and atmosphere. The fact that Lecter gets to walk around the exercise room once a week goes against Silence of the Lambs (1991) when he tells Clarice Starling that he has been in the same room for eight years and he will never be let out. And also one of the final scenes shows beautiful sunlight in Lecter's cell, which obviously destroys the romance of the one thing Lecter longs for, a window.
It is not worth people trying to compare Red Dragon to any other films. It is not worth trying to compare it to Manhunter, because it is not in affect a remake, it is a second adaptation of Harris's novel. It can be compared to Silence, but this film doesn't make an attempt to scare you mentally, it is about using sudden cuts and Elfman's demented score to make you literally jump in your seat and make your heart skip a few beats. The only time you feel scared by Lecter is when he is being carted back to his cell and he sees the forensic gloves in the cleaners pockets.
If you must compare however, it would be completely wrong to make your comparisons against Hannibal (2001) because it is a completely different set up, the previous films are not about Hannibal, especially Red Dragon. Hannibal, hence the title, is about Hannibal and is about culture, romance and freedom, and seeing as the
Timing is not particularly important to Ratner. The film begins in 1980 and the subitle following Hannibal's capture reads "Several years later. Red Dragon takes place over about three weeks and it ends directly with a link to Clarice waiting upstairs. When he speaks to Clarice in Silence of the Lambs (1991) he tells her he has been incarcerated for 8 years and it should be 1991. Which should mean the subtitle reading "Several" should be "10 years later".
As an avid fan of Lecter, Hopkins, Bach, and Harris this film is brilliant.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly the best Hannibal dish of them all., October 2, 2002
Tina Mrazik (Coral Springs, FL United States) - See all my reviews
The movie going public is obviously well acquainted with the most famous serial killer, cannibal, in cinematic history, Hannibal Lecter. In 2002's 'RED DRAGON,' Hannibal is back with force and vengeance, thanks to the brilliant portrayal of Sir Anthony Hopkins and inspired writing of screenwriter Ted Tally. He's got some of the best lines in the business. 'RED DRAGON,' for the most part is a remake of Michael Mann's 1986 'Manhunter.' Obviously there isn't a lot of variation between the two since they are both adaptations of Thomas Harris' book 'RED DRAGON.' But that is were the simularity ends. Sure, some scenes are structed the same, but to be fair this latest installment is closer and more true to the novel. For those that read the book or saw 'Manhunter,' it's no surprise that Hannibal had a rather small role. Ted Tally took some license and beefed up the character for some crucial scenes, adding a very interesting and inventive twist. From the onset, we see the capture of Hannibal by FBI Agent Will Graham, played flawlessly this time around by Edward Norton. We are also privy to a rather more intense Lecter, anger and resentment for being caught and put away. Hopkins doesn't need to do much to convey his distaste for Graham, the true talent of an excellent actor. Lecter is not over the top as many say he was in the third film 'HANNIBAL.' But this is really not a Lecter story. It is focused more on Graham and the new killer on the block, Francis Dolarhyde (played to an eeriely perfection by Ralph Fiennes). One not of advisement, if 'The Silence Of The Lambs', or 'Hannibal,' gave you nightmares, you may not be prepared for 'Dragon.' It is absolutely brutal in it's visuals and psychological mind games. Dolarhyde, aka the 'Tooth Fairy' is a brutal serial killer who has killed two families and may be on the hunt for a third. It is this that brings Jack Crawford (Harvey Keitel) on the quest to seek out a retired Graham. Reluctantly, Graham decides to help with the investigation. Graham does possess a certain gift, he can think like the killer. But it does cause a dilemma. The one person that could really give our detective the insight he needs is the one man who tried to kill him, Lector. As Clarice in 'Silence' Graham must once again delve into Lecter's world of the asylum. Frederick Chilton is back as the head of the asylum, again played by Anthony Heald
(the 'old friend for dinner' guy). Heald is an absolute delight in a awkward sort of way. He's definetly a one off. Basically, he's not nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Possibly the most disturbing character of the film is played by Fiennes. He is essentially a sympathetic killer, and yet you really want to see this guy go down. Fiennes is stunning in this role and adds his own spark to the role. Emily Watson plays Fiennes uninformed love interest who happens to be blind, lucky for her. Philip Seymour Hoffman is the sleazy tabloid reporter who in time is destined to get his comupance. It is really unfortunate that the Academy Awards does not hand out status to ensemble casts. If they did, 'RED DRAGON,' would probably be the only nomination in the catagory. There hasn't been a cast like this in many years. There is an equal balance between the three main characters, Lecter, Graham, and Dolarhyde. Lecter was in it just enough to keep it constantly fresh and on edge. Dolarhyde takes it over the edge and Graham brings it subtly back. Brett Ratner as the director did an excellent job in setting the scenes, the creepy atmosphere, and letting the actors do what they do best. This film is a winner all the way around. If any thriller were put up against 'Silence,' this may be the one that could surpass it in regards to thrills, chills and just plain excellent storytelling. Though the 4 movies are destined to be lumped together, 'Manhunter,' 'The Silence Of The Lambs,' 'Hannibal,' and now 'The Red Dragon,' which is completely understandable, 'Dragon' stands on it's own. And does so extremely well. This movie is obviously not for everyone. There is graphic violence that is disturbing. Yet in this vehicle it is not overplayed as say, your average slasher movie. If you're going to plunk down your hard earned cash for a movie, 'Red Dragon,' is the one. It is a good solid interesting movie that never lets go. Once it's got you, it's got you. And that ride starts as the lights in the theater go down. There's not too many movies that can boast that.
Tina Mrazik
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lots of Great Actors and But Little Impact., April 7, 2003
This review is from: Red Dragon [VHS] (VHS Tape)
Red Dragon is an adaptation of the Thomas Harris serial killer novel "The Red Dragon", the prequel to "The Silence of the Lambs". Retired FBI profiler Will Graham (Edward Norton) is asked to return to the force to investigate the murders of two families, each killed on a full moon in exactly the same manner, before the killer can strike again. In order to find the murderer, nicknamed "The Tooth Fairy", Agent Graham seeks the advice of a serial killer that he put behind bars years ago, Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Sir Anthony Hopkins). The Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes) is an admirer of Dr. Lecter as well, and is simultaneously seeking his advice. Agent Graham must decipher the evidence and Dr. Lecter's ramblings in order to crack the case before the next full moon claims the lives of another family.
Red Dragon is the second movie adaptation of the same Thomas Harris novel. The first was a movie called Manhunter, released in 1986. So Red Dragon is in the difficult position of being compared to both a book and a movie that preceded it. I wish I could say that Red Dragon holds up well, but it doesn't. Red Dragon has but a fraction of the visual and emotional impact that Manhunter does. It has bad screenwriting, mediocre directing, and poor casting instead. The first and most striking problem with Red Dragon is the extraordinary amount of screen time spent on things entirely extraneous to the basic plot and character development. The film really condescends to the audience by inserting several scenes that are only there to set up the next scene, as if we needed an explanation of what is going to happen before we actually see it. Presumably due to his iconic status, the character of Hannibal Lecter is given many more scenes than the book or first movie allowed him, including a ridiculous first act that only serves to lessen our opinion of Agent Graham. Lecter's extra scenes don't contribute anything to the film except the opportunity to listen to him ramble and look at various preposterous features of the prison in which he is confined, while being distracted from the substance of the story. I found this especially annoying because I have always thought that Sir Anthony Hopkins was badly miscast as Hannibal Lecter. There are a lot more superfluous scenes in Red Dragon whose purpose I could not even guess. But all of this extraneous material prevents the film and the audience from focusing on what should be the substance of the film, and it dilutes any emotionalimpact or intellectual interest that the movie might have.
Red Dragon's cast is certainly impressive: Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Sir Anthony Hopkins, and in supporting roles: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, and Harvey Keitel. I was left wondering how a film can feature so many great actors without producing one sympathetic or memorable character. I can only say by way of explanation that the characters are both badly written and badly cast. Red Dragon explores The Tooth Fairy's "Red Dragon" obsession in much greater depth than Manhunter does. In itself, that is neither good nor bad. But the character of The Tooth Fairy is so over-the-top and theatrical in Red Dragon that he is more ludicrous than frightening. And, again, too much screen time was dedicated to his histrionic antics. The more the audience sees of a villain, the less scary he seems, especially if we see that he is nutty to the point of caricature. In the film's worst example of poor character writing, Emily Watson plays the part of Reba, a blind woman in whom The Tooth Fairy seeks companionship. Reba is chatty, desperate, and generally annoying, not the bright and confident woman we know from both the book and the movie Manhunter. I find her character in Red Dragon to be a little insulting and certainly unsympathetic. Edward Norton's Will Graham is utterly lacking in depth and gives no indication whatsoever of the trauma that Lecter has caused him or of the great self-sacrifice that Graham is making when he decides to see Lecter again. Philip Seymour Hoffman sleepwalks through his performance. These are easily the worst performances of both of these actors' careers.
If you liked Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, you might like this film. But nothing in Red Dragon is believable -not the behavior of its characters or its knock-off gothic sets- so the movie is not affecting in any way. I strongly encourage you to see Manhunter, the first and far superior "Red Dragon" movie, and judge for yourself. Manhunter is a tightly woven film with good writing, directing, editing and casting. It is one of the best films of the serial killer genre. The characters have far greater depth. The movie has real visual impact. And Brian Cox plays Dr. Hannibal Lecter as he should be portrayed. The only reason Manhunter didn't do well at the box office is that it was released before serial killers were fashionable. Fans of Hannibal Lecter should check out Manhunter and see if you don't prefer Brian Cox's charming, seductive, and chilling Lecter to Sir Anthony Hopkins' grotesque, flippant Lecter who seems simply to be trying to put on a show all the time. I've always thought that Hopkins' Lecter was more of an attention-starved creep than a convincing criminal mastermind. If you are a fan of Thomas Harris or of murder movies, Red Dragon may be worth a rental, but Manhunter is worth owning.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars All Muffin Top, No Muffin., April 4, 2005
This review is from: Red Dragon (Widescreen Collector's Edition) (DVD)
I really wanted to like this movie. In my opinion Brett Ratner and Ted Tally did a second rate job of bringing the story from print to screen. Everything in this movie is muffin top, with no actual muffin. The duo did a wonderful job of including practically every scene from book to film, but along the way lost everything that made these scenes make sense. Nothing is explained, no motivations are explored, and characters are so thin that they are barely recognizable beyond the basic Killer, FBI agent, scummy reporter icons. This is a common danger of transferring a book to screen (too much info, not enough time to convey it); there is an art to it, and this time Ratner and Tally are merely drawing stick figures. To compound the problem, both have chosen to beef up Hannibal Lector's on screen time, which not only does not mirror the book, it takes away from the suspense of the actual plot. The best example I can give is that Ratner and Tally have chosen to include lengthy scenes including Reba, a blind woman, touching a tiger as it's under anesthesia, going so far as to include her cupping the tiger's genitals, yet they give no reason for why the characters are in this situation in the first place. In the movie it comes off as merely aesthetic and pointless to the plot (in the book it is very important to the plot). Most everything in the movie comes off this way. Another example is the motivation behind the main killer, who suffers from a cleft palate, which is not pointed to in the movie, though the character in the movie has the scar, e.g. all muffin top, no muffin.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very eatable pulp, June 23, 2006
This review is from: Red Dragon (Widescreen Collector's Edition) (DVD)
First there was "Manhunter", Michael Mann's ice cold, clinical approach of what would later be series of `Hannibal Lecter series'. And to say this is to make a mistake a lot of people make: Hannibal Lecter is just a suporting character in the book by Thomas Harris and the movie (then played by British actor Brian Cox).

The real story is about Will Graham, a retired cop who comes back to the scene of homocide, because his keen eye for detail must help the local police department in their desperate search for a brutal serial killer, called the "Tooth Fairy". Graham was played by the then relatively unknown William Petersen and it is his troubled mind and his ambivalence against going back to the very technique of profiling and re-living the feelings and thoughts the alledged killer must have that sent him to early retirement, that gives his character and the movie an underlying sense of unease.

"Manhunter" remained rather unnoticed at the time of release. And only because of the fact that it is now officially the first in an on going series with a highly likeble classic literature quoting cannibal, it has coem out of oblivion a bit, and justifiably so; the movie is better than expected, even though it seems to be a bit dated with it's typical eighties electronic soundtrack.

Then there was "The silence of the lambs", the highly acclaimed movie by Jonathan Demme with a bigger part for the Lecter guy. And again it would be wrong to call it "another Hannibal Lecter movie". But Anthony Hopkins does have his moments as the caged-in psychiatrist monster, who drops viable clues at the right moment so a dedicated FBI trainee, Jodi Foster, could help the Department catch another brutal slayer.

Hopkins immediately was and still is the embodiment of Hannibal Lecter, and would return in two more movies, "Hannibal" and the "Manhunter"-remake "Red Dragon". The latter was obviously created to give the Hannibal character more time and space then in the Michael Mann original, giving the fans of the New Movie Psycho what they wanted.

Having said this I want to make clear that Hopkins may be synonymous to Hannibal, that doesn't mean that he is per se better than Brian Cox. Hopkins, with his hissing, sneering and his constant sardonic looks from under his eye brows, is more of a movie-bad guy, while Cox, with his naturalistic approach, was more realistic.

In other words, within two seconds you can see that Hopkins' Hannibal is a nasty goul you should ignore when he invites you to diner, while Cox' version is that of an ordinary man who can easily delude and deceit without you knowing for a second you will be the dessert for that night.

Now there is "Red Dragon" and first of all it can be said that it doesn't have the qualities of the original "Manhunter". Edward Norton is simply unconvincing as an experienced FBI profiler, Harvey Keitel goes through the numbers and doesn't add anything to the part, Ralph Fiennes does his best being the tormented Tooth Fairy, as does Emily Watson, and Philip Seymour Hoffman has a funny bit as a sleazy reporter. Movie goers like to see familiar faces, likable faces of the moviestars they like, but "Red dragon" shows that an overkill of instant-recognizable actors can also damage things. Perhaps a cast of lesser known actors would be better so the carefully build-up tension remains, in stead of being shattered by another cheap sensation of "Hey, I know that face. Last year he was in that and that movie..."

But being inferior to the original doesn't mean that your time is wasted. Just watch the movie for what it is, easy degestable pulp. Good story about a troubled cop going after a troubled maniac, being helped in the process by a troubled ex-psychiatrist who again drops viable clues at exactly the right moments.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OH, GOODY, GOODY, SWEET BREADS!, October 4, 2002
"yaaah69" (albuquerque, nm United States) - See all my reviews
For those of us who like the thriller, the edge -of -your -seat -gripping, look between the fingers, movies! Well, this is not it. But it is a movie that will grab you with the first scene and take you on a ride you will not forget very soon. With its great acting and tantalizing musical score.
Not for the faint of heart. But, still not as riveting as "Silence of the Lambs." Don't forget ,' Silence 'came out in '91' and everyone scoffed at the thought of a Hannibal, much less a weird crossdresser that made clothes out of human skin. A year later Jeffery Dahmer broke the news. Now with that in mind and if you saw "Silence,'Hannibal 'and now 'Red Dragon 'You will know what I mean. Although Red Dragon is gripping, it would not hold up if Anthony Hopkins had not played his role to the hilt. You cannot escape those steel-piercing eyes and that flat non-emotional tone in his voice. And without him the movie would have been okay, but, not nearly as titillating.
We have 'Dino De Laurentiis ' to thank for talking Hopkins into showing up in this great movie . If you want another point of reference re: this movie, rent "Manhunter." 1986 , Directed by Michael Mann which was based on the book 'Red Dragon ,' by Thomas Harris. This is our first viewing of Lecter, played by Brian Cox, but he is not nearly as mesmerizing as Hopkins.
Ralph Fiennes ,(Frances Dolarhyde) , 'The English Patient,' ' Sunshine ,' is a very complex and scary guy and plays the new kid-on-the-block serial killer. And plays it to the max. Great actor!
Edward Norton , ( Will Graham) ,'American History X,' ' Fight Club ,' is the FBI agent who has helped catch Lecter at a great cost. He retires only to be brought back to give some thoughts on the new killer. He is very spooked and has to do face to face confrontations with Lecter. And his fear is what drives Hannibal on...As he praises Will on controlling his fear.
Emily Watson, ( Reba McClane) , 'Gosford Park ,' 'Angelas Ashes ,' plays the blind women that Francis befriends.
Philip Seymore Hoffman, (Fredie Lounds) , 'Almost Famous,' 'Flawless,' is the sleazy reporter. And meets Francis.
Harvey Keitel (Jack Crawford), 'Reservoir Dogs ,' Pulp Fiction ,' plays the FBI agent, who brings back Will to assist in the case.
In conclusion, then, I really liked this movie and I give it a straight 5/5 ...
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Red Dragon (Widescreen Collector's Edition)
Red Dragon (Widescreen Collector's Edition) by Brett Ratner (DVD - 2003)
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