Monday 16 November 2015

Hannibal - Season 3

Out now on Blu ray and DVD comes the latest season of the underrated and under-watched Hannibal. I guess I may as well call this review ‘Hannibal: The Final Season’ because it no longer looks as if some mystery channel are going to swoop in and save one of the best shows of recent memory. Not many shows have to exist within the shadow of an incomparable film classic, and when they do the TV shows almost never compare. But Hannibal not only manages to get out of the shadow of Silence of the Lambs; in season 3 it manages to surpass it.

The series starts out not long after last one finished but quite a few things have changed for the charming cannibal. After the massacre at the end of season 2 Hannibal has relocated to Florence, Italy with Gillian Anderson’s Bedelia, who is partly his prisoner and partly there for her own reasons. Meanwhile, Will is recovering in hospital after being almost disembowelled by Hannibal last season and is now seeing ghostly apparitions to boot. Far from being the only one feeling the reparations of Hannibal Lecter's wrath, it seems everyone has been hurt by Hannibal in one way or another. The first half of the season deals with this, and sends Will off to Lithuania and then Italy on the trail of Hannibal who has set up a nice cosy life for himself. This part of season 3 feels vastly different to what came before. Gone are the procedural and villain-of-the-week aspects that were present in the first two seasons, with the first part of season 3 instead feeling like a 6-7 hour long film. That's not a criticism mind; it's refreshing to have something different, and the change in format matches the massive change the characters have undergone since the last season.

Not much more can be said of the plot without giving away big spoilers but it's common knowledge that, for one reason or another, the focus in part 2 of season 3 is not on Hannibal but rather an equally frightening newcomer; The Red Dragon. The last thing Hannibal needs is a new villain but portrayed by the fantastic Richard Armitage, the Red Dragon (real name Francis Dolarhyde) is outstanding. He is legitimately terrifying and an equal parts villain to the great Hannibal Lecter, and is equally damaging to Will Graham, who has been tasked with taking him down. Hugh Dancy is brilliant again as the incredibly damaged Will, acting as a pawn for everyone's games. Laurence Fishburne is also great, as always, and is involved in one of the most fun and interesting fights of the series when he comes up against Hannibal again. Of course, as it has always been, the real draw of the show is Mads Mikkelson as the title character. Perfectly cast as the sinister manipulative cannibal it's a testament to his performance that he manages to over shadow the brilliant Anthony Hopkins in the role.

Something else that sets Hannibal apart from the rest of the TV landscape is the direction of the show. Being probably the most disgusting show on television you wouldn't think it could also be the most beautiful. The composition of each shot is amazing, and so deliberate, that you could pause it at any moment and have a stunning image. Often gruesome, and always pretentious, the look of the show is something that hasn't yet been replicated or beaten by anything else on TV, and is one of the reasons the show is so unique.

After the brilliant, but perhaps similar, first two seasons of the show, Hannibal reinvents itself completely with the arrival of season 3. The show is as wonderfully pretentious as ever, with more of the great performances and obtuse dialogue that we've all come to adore. Which makes it even sadder that this is probably the last we'll see of this iteration of Hannibal, and we'll almost certainly never see one as good as this again. 

Hannibal gets a tasty 5/5.


Tom Bumby

Hannibal - Season 3 at CeX

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