Friday, May 31, 2013

Manhunter/Red Dragon comparison by Tony Epifanio

My friend Tony Epifanio had been a fan of movies whom I frequently discuss with tastes in movies. He has been quite adamant about telling me that he prefers Brett Ratner's Red Dragon to Michael Mann's Manhunter, which I disagree with. However, he finally gave me this mini-prose on it and, with his permission, I decided to post it on Movie Motorbreath.

In addition, I will be having a co-writer on this blog soon by the name of David McGee, more on that later though. 

Manhunter and Red Dragon are both books based on the first book in the Hannibal Lecter series by Thomas Harris called 'Red Dragon'. They revolve around Thomas Graham, a retired FBI agent, being recruited one more time to capture an elusive serial killer. However, much like Clarice Starling after him, he finds himself in need of the cannibal serial killer Hannibal Lecter's assistance - who happens to be the very last serial killer he had put away, an arrest that left him hospitalized.

Here is Tony's explanation.

I can honestly say that I rather enjoyed the opening of Red Dragon rather than Manhunter. Why? Because I think that, especially in a story such as this, some sort of backstory on our hero is a necessity. I do believe that it was done more for the Hopkins-philes rather than the story, but it was a better beginning than just jumping right into the main story. Onto the main story [of the Tooth Fairy], I preferred the "old folks - grandma's a bitch" angle to him just killing people. Now of course, the idea of a man just killing people on pure speculation should make it scarier. But in this case, because of the type of movie that Manhunter is (I'll get to that soon), it falls short to me.

I told you before and I believe most people stand behind me on this that Hopkins is the superior Lector over Brian Cox and certainly over the dude from Casino Royale that is currently playing him [a reference to Mads Mikkelsen starring in the current NBC series "Hannibal"]. Cox played him too quickly, every answer was direct and every question abrupt, while Hopkins played him as a game. Every question and answer was a riddle that Graham needed to solve. The discussion between Graham and Lector in Manhunter, their first discussion, was rushed and completely underdone. Which brings me to the two starring actors, Norton and Peterson, I think I remember you saying that you preferred Peterson to Norton, I'm the opposite. For a character like Graham, at least how he is described in the book, Norton was a great cast seeing as he is a fantastic method actor, he did not overact at any point, and he did not underscore the big moments, plus for the extended ending between him and the Tooth Fairy when he had to call his child a little faggot and basically make his son feel like shit about pissing himself, I actually was able to believe Norton. Although, when it came to the family it was a lot better of a relationship between Peterson and the chick who played his wife.

Crawford is simple, I preferred Scott Glenn [from The Silence of the Lambs] to both Harvey [Keitel] and Dennis Farina.

The Tooth Fairy is a little harder to review because they both had merit. To me, it is like comparing the [The Dark Knight's Heath] Ledger Joker and the [1989 Batman's Jack] Nicholson Joker - they are two separate and distinct characters that happen to have the same name and come from the same source [material]. They were both spectacular. However, [Manhunter's Tom] Noonan had something going against him. Manhunter was a totally 80's movie. The cheesy synthetic music was the worst. However, the simplicity of the location and the sets, especially Dolarhyde's pad, definitely added to the story. I really enjoyed the use of the original version of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida [by Iron Butterfly], the 17-minute long version.

Red Dragon had one thing going against it...Brett Ratner. Dude needs to stick to comedies. I like Red Dragon, don't get me wrong. But the direction was not great and you could totally tell that most of the great scenes comes from the three fantastic actors in the film.

So, I like both movies. I'm glad I owned both movies.

I may or may not write my own response one day - but I doubt it. Neither movie, even though I really like Manhunter, are yet movies that I feel compelled to write about.

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