Red Dragon (2002) - Director's Edition
|Genre(s): Crime / Horror / Thriller|
|Universal || R - 125 minutes - $34.98 || April 1, 2003|
|Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2004-09-04|
Writer(s): Thomas Harris (novel), Ted Tally (screenplay)
Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Edward Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary-Louis Parker, Philip Seymour Hoffman
Theatrical Release Date: October 4, 2002
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Remake or prequel? or both? To be honest it really doesn't matter, the fact is Brett Ratner's Red Dragon is better than Michael Mann's Manhunter. It has a better look, much better acting and fits perfectly into the 'Hannibal Lecter Trilogy'.
The movie begins in 1980 with Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins) visiting with FBI Agent Will Graham (Norton) as they try to piece together a profile of a serial killer. During this scene, Graham figures out who the killer is but before he could arrest Dr. Lecter, he gets a knife in the gut but he still manages to save himself and capture the good doctor.
Several years later after Graham is fully recuperated, his former boss, Jack Crawford (Keitel) comes to him for help as another serial killer nicknamed The Tooth Fairy has killed two families in two different cities. We discover the Tooth Fairy is Francis Dolarhyde (Fiennes), a tortured soul who, after killing his victims, places broken shards of mirror glass in their eyes.
Although Anthony Hopkins headlines Red Dragon, he is barely seen and yet he has a massive effect on how people will feel about this film in the end. Hopkins has such a screen presence that even as a psycho we still cannot look away from this purely evil and methodical killer. This was something that was missing in Manhunter where the Lecter character, played by Brian Cox, was sadly ineffective.
Edward Norton takes on a role (originally played by "CSI" star William Peterson) that is not really fleshed out completely but never really needs to be considering the fast pace of the film. Since 1996's Primal Fear, Edward Norton has not backed away from interesting or hard material. He was in the controversial Fight Club and American History X then made his directorial debut for Keeping the Faith. I like his style and the way he can switch emotions on a whim. He has the awareness and the talent that could be compared to actors from Hollywood's golden era, be it James Stewart or Cary Grant. Norton is an actor that can take on any role and make it work.
Manhunter never had the. . .scratch that, Silence of the Lamb and Manhunter never had a supporting cast like this. Yes, Red Dragon has Hopkins and Norton but backing them up is Ralph Fiennes as the tattooed killer, Harvey Keitel as Jack Crawford, Emily Watson as the blind objection of affection for Dolarhyde and Philip Seymour Hoffman in a slightly small role. These are some of the best actor's anyone would want in his or her film. They can handle small roles and still make an impact.
Danny Elfman provides a nice, thrilling score for RD. It's not too loud as to ruin your hearing but not so soft that it takes away from the film as a whole. Elfman is one of my favorite modern composers and his scores sometimes makes a movie worthwhile.
Ted Tally marks his return to the series after wisely turning down adapting Hannibal, gives that sly dialogue we all love. He gives some good comedy relief that only could be used for Hannibal Lecter (Graham: "I don't have much time!" Hannibal: "Oh but I do! I have oodles!")
What I liked most about Red Dragon is the way it fits beautifully with Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal. They all seem to have the same look and feel to keep some consistency or continuity (although Jack Crawford was played by Scott Glenn in SOTL). Brett Ratner gives us lush new sets and still utilizes (I think) the original jail sets from Silence of the Lambs. He does a good job in pulling off the 80s look without being overbearing in the wardrobe selection.
Overall, Red Dragon is not a perfect movie but is is highly entertaining and thrilling film. As I said before, it fits perfectly with Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal in the way it looks and plays out. The film works mainly because of Anthony Hopkins and probably wouldn't have worked with anybody else (even Jude Law who was in the running to play a younger Hannibal).
If you liked Silence, you'll thouroughly enjoy this thriller.
First up is the commentary from director Brett Ratner and screenwriter Ted Tally. The duo go through the process of how they came aboard and such- in particular Ratner getting Tally's screenplay and wondered why in the hell he was even considered. They also explain some of the stunts and changes made both before and after filming. Ratner goes into how he got the cast he got using sort of a bait and hook (ie: Anthony Hopkins hooked in Edward Norton which got Harvey Keitel which got . . . and so on). The commentary does get a bit dry in places but all in all pretty good. The second commentary track comes from composer Danny Elfman. This track takes away all the sounds except the score. He doesn't talk a whole lot and frankly it was very boring.
The additional scenes section gives deleted scenes (7), alternate versions of scenes (4) and extended scenes (3). The extended cuts like on other DVDs, are pretty useless. The deleted scenes are interesting which includes two scenes that I liked: 1) Hannibal Lecter watches the Leeds' home video (this is part of the "show" as in "dinner and a show") and 2) when Josh gets the s'mores and he closes the cabinet door to find Dolarhyde behind it (you saw this scene in the trailers). The alternate versions are pretty good which includes the "voice" of the dragon speaking to Dolarhyde as he tries to stop the dragon from killing Emily Watson's character.
Lecter's FBI File and Life Hisory is a compilation of Hannibal's past. There's no video, you just flip from one page to the next. It goes into detail about his childhood and how his sister was eaten by, well. . .cannibals. It also details many of his victims. This feature was interesting to me as it brings everything the filmmakers' know about Lecter to this DVD (via Thomas Harris' novels).
Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer is a pretty good interview with John Douglas, a profiler with the FBI. He gives some insight on how he would've profiled someone like Hannibal Lecter. He notes that many of these serial killers got that way because of something that happened in their childhood. He notes how Lecter is anti-social and how his childhood and the death of his sister effected him later on.
Anthony Hopkins: Lecter and Me is a basic interview with Anthony Hopkins and how he becomes Hannibal Lecter and talks about getting into the role once again (only a year after Hannibal). The interview is nothing special but it is interesting to watch Hopkins explain this or that, so on and so forth.
The Making of Red Dragon is not a bad feature but like on countless other DVDs: it's not needed! It's nice to watch some of the behind-the-scenes stuff and the actors talking about their character and why they signed on and how great the other actors are to work with and how great Ratner is- yada yada yada. Like I said, not bad, but not needed at the same time.
A Director's Journey is a 40 minute show that documents the production process on Red Dragon from beginning to end. It chronicles the crew going out and scouting locations, for instance: the crew talks to the owners of the home that was the inspiration for Dolarhyde's mansion and how they wanted to blow it up (scary as it seems, the producer at least didn't seem like he was kidding!). One insteresting part that caught my ear was when Ratner was talking with the director of photography Dante Spinotti about getting Michael Mann into a cameo as the police commissioner. Ratner was debating whether or not he himself should call or if Spinotti should instead (Spinotti worked with Mann on Manhunter the previous version of this film). But alas, I don't think he was in it, oh well, worth a try. Lastly, the strangest moment came when Michael Jackson was going to visit the set (????). Jackson's people were setting everything up so that nobody could get pictures of him (by setting up the trailers and such). I'm not sure how long he was there but on screen it was about a minute as he watched a joke made by Ralph Fiennes.
Quickly, other features include a visual effects montage with commentary that takes us through two or three changes made (like blood or the explosion, etc.). The screen tests aren't all that interesting as it is just the actors trying on their wardrobe and testing the lighting or being onscreen together to see how that worked. This section also includes the tatoo work done on Fiennes. The same can be said for the makeup tests as well. This part includes more commentary on the tatoo and such. There's also a separate section for the burning wheelchair scene as we get to see the stunt coordinator role donw the street in a ball of flames and upon reaching the bottom being quickly extinguished. Along the same lines, they showed how they got the blood in the Leeds' house to be accurate using the expertise of cops as they guide the set people on how the blood would be if this action was taken and so on. Next is Brett Ratner's untitled student film- not too bad but something I could've lived without (but obviously it's very special to him). The last meaningful feature is the storyboard to final feature comparison that many DVDs are doing now. It's not great but still fun to watch once.
The other features are theatrical trailers, production notes and cast & crew stuff, all of which I absolutely can't get enough of! ;)
.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.
Both sound and picture are perfect. From the very beginning of the film, the rich colors come out nicely. Danny Elfman's score comes through very well in the Dolby Digital surround sound.
I absouletly loved this DVD! The director's video diary is the best feature that hope more and more DVDs will include. I have always been interested in how movies are made and the schedule they keep. I remember years and years ago being surprised that filmmakers did not film movies in order!
On a side note, there is another version out there that I think only includes the features on disc one. I think that would satisfy a majority of regular movie watchers as some may not care about the making process, just the movie itself.