Hannibal (Superbit) (2000)
Dolby Digital Trailer-City
|Year Of Production||2000|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (63:58)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Ridley Scott|
Sony Pictures Home Entertain
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English dts 5.1 (768Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
I reviewed the original release of Hannibal back in August 2001. At the time I was highly impressed with the quality of the video transfer, the audio soundtracks and the massive bundle of extras. Now, two years later, I get the chance to take a look at the much lauded (and oft-criticised) Superbit version of the film. This release comes as a single disc only with the film and two audio soundtracks. The original Region 4 release was a two-disc set which contained a commentary from director Ridley Scott and a second disc chock full of extras. It also contained a dts soundtrack.
In 2001, Hannibal was one of the most eagerly anticipated follow-up movies of the year. I call it a follow-up and not a sequel because of the presence of the 1986 Michael Mann film Manhunter based on Thomas Harris' book Red Dragon (which director Brett Ratner has since turned into another film in the Lecter series), which introduced us to Hannibal Lecter. In this instance, he was played by Brian Cox and not Sir Anthony Hopkins who made the role his own in the hugely successful 1991 film, The Silence Of The Lambs. We had to wait ten years for Thomas Harris to get around to writing Hannibal and for it to be filmed.
Ten years on and Hannibal Lecter is still free. Special agent Clarice Starling (then played by Jodie Foster, now by Julianne Moore) has moved on from solving the Buffalo Bill serial murder case, and is an operative in the field. After a bungled FBI raid in which several people are killed, and in what looks like a set-up, she is stood down from active duty. Meanwhile, Dr Lecter has been living in Florence, Italy under the guise of Dr Fell. He looks set to become the next curator of the local museum, until an unwitting Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi (Giancarlo Giannini) begins poking around and believes he may have stumbled onto the whereabouts of one of the FBI's ten most wanted fugitives. So begins a cat and mouse hunt, where Pazzi, in an effort to claim the three million dollar reward, attempts to prove that the urbane Dr Fell is in fact Hannibal Lecter. I won't spoil the rest, only to say that Dr Lecter eventually heads back to the US in an attempt to track down Clarice and right the wrongs against her. Here he falls victim to the pursuit of a hideously disfigured Mason Verger (a non-recognizable Gary Oldman), a previous patient/victim of Hannibal's who appears to have lost his face.
Hannibal had big boots to fill after the success of The Silence Of The Lambs. The latter won the "big four" at the 1991 Academy Awards (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Male Actor, Best Female Actor), becoming just the third film to do so. It set the standard for the psychological thriller that turned serial killing into an art form. This time around, the taut direction of Jonathan Demme was replaced by the equally artistic direction of Ridley Scott, but sadly, two of the three things that made The Silence Of The Lambs so good were missing. Jodie Foster passed up the opportunity to reprise her Clarice Starling role due to the extreme nature of the book and what became of her character at the conclusion. She is so sorely missed. The aforementioned book also polarized many fans who saw the ending as something that could never have happened and felt that it betrayed all that agent Starling stood for.
The censors in this country also had much to say about the film. When initially released, it was classified by the Office of Film and Literature Classification with an MA 15+ rating, but some supposed complaints (as usual from people who probably hadn't even seen the film) and intense media scrutiny saw the Review Board examine and subsequently overturn that decision and slap an R 18+ rating on it only days after it had been released. The furore was all to do with one particular scene towards the end of the film featuring a brain, a frypan, and a hungry Justice Department Director. I'm not sure what all the fuss was about, as this is still one of the campiest style horror scenes I think I have ever seen.
Whether Hannibal is enough of a popular title or cult-style film to warrant a release of a Superbit version is highly debatable. Personally, I can't understand the reason for it (other than the marketing angle in the lead-up to Christmas). I thought the original release offered about the best package going at the time. Superb video, audio, and probably the best extras I had seen to that point. Bereft of extras, Superbit titles are going to live and die by the quality of the film and I really don't consider Hannibal to be in the same league as some of the other Superbits already released.
Superbit titles are supposed to offer the absolute best possible video quality. Judging from the comments from others on the review team who have previously viewed some of the Superbit titles, the size of your display device plays an important part in gaining the full benefit of these discs (size does matter maybe!). Those with large RPTVs or projectors will certainly see most of the benefit. Since I only have an 84cm conventional television, my appreciation is more limited, but I can certainly see a more consistent 'film-like' look that the whole transfer exhibits across the board. Some of the small niggly problems evident in the original Region 4 transfer such as some minor aliasing and moiré effects are gone and grain is completely absent. This really is a fine looking transfer.
The transfer is presented in the original theatrical aspect of 1.85:1 and it is of course 16x9 enhanced.
The image is consistently crisp and sharp. There is not a single trace of edge enhancement and shadow detail is exemplary which, given the number of low light scenes that occur, is a blessing. There is no evidence of grain or low level noise. It is clean, clear, and incredibly sharp.
Colours are also spot-on. Skin tones are natural, and while not overly vibrant the rest of the transfer offers a decent palette. There is no colour bleeding or oversaturation present.
There are no MPEG artefacts visible at all. There are almost no film artefacts to be seen other than the usual odd spot or fleck.
There are four subtitle tracks on this disc compared with twelve dialogue and two commentary tracks on the original Region 4 release. They are not perfect in their representation of the dialogue spoken, but they are pretty close.
This is an RSDL formatted disc. The layer change occurs at 63:58 just as Lecter says "Why not?". It is well placed and does not cause any disruption, though I was expecting it to be slightly less noticeable given this is a Superbit disc. It may be more a legacy of my particular player maybe. It is also different to the original Region 4 release which had the layer change at 57:20 just after Mason Verger was speaking.
There are two audio tracks available, with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack and a half-bitrate dts 5.1 soundtrack being the choice. It would appear after several comparisons that these soundtracks are identical to those used for the original Region 4 release. I said at the time that I was highly impressed with these soundtracks and they were among the best I had heard to date. Two years later and nothing has changed. These are two very high quality tracks indeed. Both offer a wide soundstage with clear and precise dialogue and effects. Bass extension and surround use is impeccable, with some of the best rear channel directional effects I have heard. Perhaps during the operatic scene in Florence the dts track offered a little more wider-reaching sound, but the differences are minor.
Dialogue is crisp, clear, and always readily understandable. There are no audio sync issues.
The musical score is by Hans Zimmer and as usual is superb. It adds much to the atmosphere, especially during the early scenes set in Florence and in particular the opera piece that was composed for the film.
There are some decent examples of surround use, particularly early on in the fish market shoot-out. Listen in at 8:15-9:00 for the obligatory bullets buzzing around your head. These particular scenes offer some excellent rear channel directional effects also.
The subwoofer received only moderate use. Whilst this is not a bass-heavy soundtrack, with few explosions or deep rumbles, it copped a good workout in the early fish market scene.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
Hannibal is not available as a Superbit title in Region 1.
While not in the same league as its grisly and disturbing predecessor, which set new standards for the psychological thriller, Hannibal is a well-crafted film that, while partly thrilling, lacks any of the suspense that was so desperately needed. It will also have you chuckling at some of the campy gore scenes. I challenge you to try watching this without thinking of just how much better Jodie Foster would have been in the role of Clarice. It is a very difficult task.
This Superbit version offers exemplary video with a small number of minor film artefacts as the only blemish.
The audio is also magnificent, but is pretty much the same as the original Region 4 release.
There are no extras.
|DVD||Loewe Xemix 5106DO, using RGB output|
|Display||Loewe Calida (84cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Front - B&W 602S2, Centre - B&W CC6S2, Rear - B&W 601S2, Sub - Energy E:xl S10|