Review Date: January 26, 2001
Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
Release date: 1/30/2001
Region 1, NTSC
Widescreen 2.35:1 | 16x9: Yes
Anthony Hopkins mesmerizing performance as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs was actually the second time the character of Hanibal Lecter has graced the big screen. The first time was in the 1986 movie Manhunter, based on the novel Red Dragon by Thomas Harris. In Manhunter, Lecktor (how it is spelt in Manhunter) is portrayed by actor Brian Cox who does a fine job playing the insane and menacing Lecktor. While I don't prefer him over Hopkins, it should be noted that in Manhunter, Lecktor doesn't get much screen time and isn't really a major part of the story like he is Lambs. Cox doesn't really have an opportunity to build the character's frightening personality like Hopkins did in Silence of the Lambs.
Anchor Bay has released two versions of Manhunter onto DVD. First is the theatrical cut DVD, containing the original version presented in theaters back in 1986, along with a few featurettes, a trailer and talent bios as extras. The second is the limited edition DVD, containing both the theatrical cut and director's cut - an additional 3 minutes longer than the theatrical cut - on two separate DVDs. As well as containing all of the extras on the theatrical cut DVD plus a director's cut DVD, the Limited Edition also contains 24 pages of rare photos.
This review is for the Limited Edition DVD. Is it really worth the extra money for 3 extra minutes of footage and some rare photos? Lets take a closer look and find out.
Agent Jack Crawford (Dennis Farina) goes to his friend Will Graham (William L. Petersen), a retired manhunter that nearly went insane after capturing the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecktor, to ask for help in capturing a serial killer labeled as "The Tooth Fairy" (Tom Noonan). Jack, having his wife Molly (Kim Greist), son Kevin (David Seaman) and his own sanity to worry about, is a bit reluctant to help. He eventually agrees after Jack shows him pictures of the family that has just been slaughtered by the Tooth Fairy.
Will begins building a profile of the killer, and also finds some clues that the police investigators missed. To ultimately be able to find and capture this killer, he'll need the help of Dr. Hannibal Lecktor to discover how the killer is choosing his victims. He goes to see Lecktor for the first time since he captured him years ago. Lecktor agrees to give the killer's file a look, but as he does so he once again begins to play with Will's mind. When Will was tracking down Lecktor he trained himself to start thinking like Lecktor in order to learn what his next step might be. Obviously it took a mental tole on Will, and Lecktor is now bringing up those painful memories all over again.
As Will starts closing in on the Tooth Fairy, the killer doesn't just stand idly by. The Tooth Fairy kills a reporter that Will was associated with, and it's discovered that he's been communicating with Dr. Lecktor. Lecktor tries to communicate back in some sort of coded message, which is intercepted by authorities; Will gives the okay for the message to be sent. When the message is finally decoded, Will discovers the frightening reality that his isn't the only life at stake here and that Lecktor is still a threat, even behind bars. Time is running out, and they expect more killings to take place soon. Will finally finds links the clues together that will lead them to the Tooth Fairy. With psychotic memories of Lecktor fresh in his mind and his sanity once again becoming questionable, Will must confront the Tooth Fairy and stop him before more murders take place.
Manhunter is great thriller that has a good pace, some good action and an effective villain. It's important that one be able to separate this film from Silence of the Lambs, and understand that this film stands on its own. After all, the only real connection between the two is Hannibal Lecter. In Manhunter, Hannibal Lecter is a minimal part of the story, unlike Silence of the Lambs where he's a much greater part. You only get a brief glimpse of who he is and what's he's capable of here. Still, it's great to see his character again, especially when you know what the future holds for him.
Michael Mann does a wonderful job directing the film, giving it a unique sense of visual style and sound. The entire cast gives wonderful performance; my two favorite being William Petersen (Will Graham) and Tom Noonan ("The Tooth Fairy"). Petersen gives a very convincing performance as the retired manhunter who comes back for 'one final job', only to find himself once again struggling with his sanity as he tries to learn the killers' thoughts. Noonan is perfect as the crazed "Tooth Fairy", always having that expression of emptiness when you see his face. It's very convincing; often times movies have a mask on the villain to try and accomplish this.
All in all Manhunter is a great serial killer movie. It spends more time following Will Graham's investigation rather then "The Tooth Fairy" himself. If you're looking for something full of gore I'd suggest you look elsewhere. If you're looking for a movie with a good pace, great character development and acting, great directing, some great villains and a great story, I suggest you give Manhunter a try.
Manhunter: Theatrical cut is presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Overall I'm quite pleased with this transfer, given the age of the film and especially when you compare it to the transfer on the Director's Cut (more on that later). Image is sharp overall with very few soft spots. There is some consistent light grain present, but it never really gets too heavy and it didn't bother me much. Colors are strong and are consistently well saturated, though blacks do appear a bit too bright at times; fleshtones appeared accurate.
Manhunter: Director's Cut is, unfortunately, not even close to being up to par with the theatrical cut transfer. The Director's Cut is also presented in an anamorphic widescreen transfer in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Heavier grain is present throughout much of the film, which can be an annoyance. Colors are a bit faded and often appear oversaturated. Image itself is definitely lacking in detail and often comes across as being a bit blurry.
The Theatrical Cut contains a new Dolby Digital 5.1 surround track. Though there aren't many action scenes, surround activity is pretty good throughout the movie; LFE activity is minimal. Dialogue was crisp and clear; no distortion was heard.
The Director's Cut contains a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround track. This mix is only slightly inferior to the Dolby Digital 5.1 track on the Theatrical Cut. There's slightly less activity on surrounds, but otherwise they're nearly identical.
Anchor Bay has included some nice extras on the Theatrical Cut DVD, which are also available on the standalone DVD. First up is a featurette titled The Manhunter Look, a conversation with cinematographer Dante Spinotti that runs about 10 minutes in length. He talks about how he got involved with Manhunter, colors use in the film, filming style, his contributions to the film, editing, and more. Certainly gives some detail into the filming style used in Manhunter. Though it's a bit short, it is full of good information, and I enjoyed watching it.
Another featurette, titled Inside Manhunter, is also included. It runs about 18 minutes and includes interviews with stars William Petersen (Will Graham), Joan Allen (Reba), Brian Cox (Dr. Hannibal Lecktor) and Tom Noonan ("The Tooth Fairy"). They discuss several things, including how they obtained the part, their thoughts on the original title - Red Dragon - and why it was changed, researching their parts, thoughts on director Michael Mann and "The Tooth Fairy", plus much more. It's interesting to watch; I enjoyed seeing the actors reminisce and give their thoughts on various aspects of the movie.
Finishing off the supplements are a theatrical trailer (16x9 enhanced) and talent bios for cast and crew. I don't consider artwork or booklets to be extras, but I will mention that specific to the Limited Edition DVD is 24 pages of rare photos and some FBI case documents that are stored in a small manila folder. Besides this artwork and the actual Director's Cut DVD itself, the extras on the standalone Theatrical Cut DVD (available for $24.98) and this Limited Edition are identical.
Theatrical Cut has great a/v quality and great extras. The Director's Cut has poor video quality and no extras (unless you consider the printed artwork in the limited edition an extra). The standalone Theatrical Cut DVD is available for $24.98, whereas the Limited Edition DVD containing both Theatrical Cut and Director's Cut is $39.98. All you'd be missing out on is the Director's Cut DVD and the printed artwork. Personally, I couldn't even notice the 3 minutes that are missing from the Theatrical Cut. From what I've read on other sites, it mostly deals with character development. Unless you're a big fan of the film or like to own limited editions (I know many people do), you're probably better off to get the standalone Theatrical Cut DVD.
Movie itself is a terrific; I definitely recommend it. It's not fast paced or gory, but if you don't mind taking the time to sit down and actually enjoy a movie as it develops, you'll enjoy Manhunter. Whether you decide on the Limited Edition or the standalone Theatrical Cut, Anchor Bay has done a great job with video and extras, minus the video problems on the Director's Cut.
Movie - B
Image Quality - B+
Sound - B+
Movie - B
Image Quality - C-
Sound - B
Supplements - B
- Running time - Theatrical version - 2 hours 1 minute
- Running time - Director's Cut - 2 hours 3 minutes
- Rated R
- 2 Discs
- Chapter stops
- English Dolby Digital 5.1 surround (Theatrical) | Dolby Digital 2.0 (Director's cut)
- Featurette: The Manhunter Look, a Conversation with Cinematographer Dante Spinotti
- Featurette: Inside Manhunter with stars William Petersen, Joan Allen, Brian Cox and Tom Noonan
- Theatrical Trailer
- Talent Bios