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Flashback several years before the events of Silence of the Lambs. The FBI's wunderkind criminal profiler Will Graham (Ed Norton) captures the notorious Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) in spectacular fashion. Scarred by the event, Graham is coaxed out of retirement two years later by his boss (Harvey Keitel) to help hunt down a new killer dubbed The Tooth Fairy (Ralph Fiennes) because he bites his victims. Graham uses a sleazy tabloid journalist (Philip Seymour Hoffman) as bait, and consults his old foe Dr Lecter, who's now imprisoned in a stony dungeon with plexiglass walls. The Tooth Fairy, however, has already made contact with Lecter...

Review by Shannon J. Harvey: 
So Hannibal the Cannibal is still hungry for more, huh? He's had seconds, now the greedy guts wants thirds. Perhaps another helping of liver, fauva beans and chianti? The first of three movies based on the books by Thomas Harris (but released third in line), Red Dragon has already been made by Michael Mann as Manhunter in 1986. So it's both a remake and a prequel to the great Silence of the Lambs. And it's only been 18 months since podgy old Sir Anthony served Ray Liotta his own brains in the bloodcurdlingly bad Hannibal.

Yet I'm as happy as a well fed cannibal to report that Red Dragon actually re-captures the magic of Lambs. It doesn't have the same quotable dialogue as that film, nor the sexual tension or memorable repartee between a monstrous Hopkins and a lamb-like Jody Foster. Instead, it brings a bigger cast into this picture, with Ed Norton servicable as the scarred Will Graham, Harvey Keitel solid as his boss, and Philip Seymour Hoffman suitably sleazy as the tabloid reporter used as bait. There's a buffed and tattooed Ralph Fiennes as the Tooth Fairy and fawn-like Emily Watson as his blind and unsuspecting new girlfriend. Then there's Hopkins, and although most would watch Red Dragon for little more than his performance, he isn't given as much screen time as he deserves. It's a shame, and one of the few flaws in this otherwise slick, gripping, multi-stranded thriller.

For anyone wanting a bigger bite of the Cannibal's pie, then this two-disc DVD with DTS sound is the one. Sorry to those who already bought the first, featureless release. Perhaps Hannibal wants another bite of your DVD budget? So is a second release in a year worth it? Yes! This package is so chock-full of making-of morsels, second-helpings and corn-fed commentaries that it will satisfy the most discernible palate. There are two commentaries - one with director Brett Ratner and writer Ted Tally, and the other with composer Danny Elfman. It's not hard to guess which one is better (Elfman should let his music do the talking). 

The Making Of features cast and crew interviews, snippets, the psychology of Red Dragon, how it fits into the trilogy and the dream cast - all of which is pretty fluffy. Next is Lecter and Me, a short interview with a humble Hopkins, who describes Lecter as a nightmarish bogeyman. The actor is so cool, calm and collected he almost falls alseep on you; hard to imagine him as such a monster. The best special feature, however, is the Visual Diary. It's a year-long documentary showing scout locations, meetings, costume designs, post-production and everything in between. The rest is largely technical; visual effects, scene disseminations and so on. And don't be too excited by the warning disclaimer before Makeup - the film shows much worse. The DVD rounds off with Ratner's amateur student film (not bad), additional scenes and trailers. Red Dragon is a nice addition to the Lecter series, sitting somewhere between the tight intensity of Lambs and the bloodbath of Hannibal. It's creepy enough to have you swearing off red meat and blind dates forever, but satisfying enough to have you coming back for more…

Published June 19, 2003

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CAST: Anthony Hopkins, Ed Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Mary-Louise Parker.

DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner

RUNNING TIME: 119 minutes

PRESENTATION: 2:35:1 16:9 widescreen, Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS sound.

SPECIAL FEATURES: Feature Commentary with Director Brett Ratner and Writer Ted Tally, Music Scores Commentary with Composer Danny Elfman, DVD-rom featuring Total Axess, The Making of Red Dragon, Anthony Hopkins: Lecter and Me, Visual Effects, Storyboards to Final Feature Comparison, Brett Ratner's Video Diary, Screen and Film Tests, Make up Application, Burning Wheelchair, FBI Profile: Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer, The Leeds House Crime Scene, DVD-rom featuring Total Axess, Additional Scenes, Brett Ratner's Untitled Student Film, Red Dragon Theatrical Trailer, The Hulk Teaser Trailer


DVD RELEASE: June 17, 2003

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