A friend of mine was talking the other day about how he preferred Michael Mann's Manhunter to Jonathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs. It's a defensible stance, but for me, that argument ends somewhere during the scene in which William Petersen gives a manic monologue while he's up in a tree, all worked up as he places himself INSIDE THE MIND OF THE KILLER! It's super serious and a little goofy. I do like the film (and I feel the novel it's based on is superior to the novel Silence is based on), but it didn't make the correct turn at every fork in the road.
Still, Manhunter handily beats its own remake, 2002's Red Dragon, which is still a head scratcher of a misfire. The screenwriter of Silence! Edward Norton vs. Sir Anthony Hopkins! Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ralph Fiennes! I mean, I remember reading that lineup and thinking, "Holy shit." Alas, the end result was, somehow, more shit than holy.
We'll all get to revise our rankings soon, when NBC unleashes its Hannibal series on us in the fall. Industry-wise, I guess the big news is that NBC has skipped the pilot stage and went straight to series, ordering 13 episodes from producer Bryan Fuller (whose Munsters reboot is, according to Deadline, having some casting difficulties). For the rest of us, the meaty stuff is that they're going back to the Red Dragon well and expanding on the collaborative period between Dr. Hannibal Lecter and FBI profiler Will Graham, no doubt turning Hannibal the Cannibal into a Dexter-ish anti-hero. Which is kind of a drag, but I guess it's the way of all monsters; by the end of their cycles, we're all rooting for Frankenstein's monster and Freddy and Jason and such. And I suppose Lecter's appeal has always been how seductive he is.
Good, bad, curiosity will have us at least checking out the pilot, but as we all know the real fun of stories like this is in the fan casting, which you are invited to go crazy with in the comments below. Whose take on the deadly doctor and the driven Fed would you like to see?