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The Red Dragon

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Ed Norton, Ralph Fiennes, Harvey Keitel, Emily Watson, Mary Louise Parker and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Directed by: Brett Ratner
Writing credits: Thomas Harris (novel)
Ted Tally (screenplay)
Rated: R

The doctor is in and serving up his special brand of diabolical mayhem! As the first few frames of Red Dragon re- joins us with infamously grandious Dr. Hannibal Lector, he's enjoying an ensemble of orchestral musicians. We then notice his smug smirk morphs into a full-scale wince as a mediocre flutist misses a note. We, his returning audience, just know this reaction to the salacious note means the flutist will be over Dr. Lector's for dinner soon. …and not as a guest!

Sure enough in one of the film grandest "inside joke" moments we are privy to a society snobs' gathering at Dr. Lector's where the board of the philharmonics in question enjoy a homemade pate the dear doctor's whipped up, while commenting on the recent disappearance of their fumbling flutist. We of course roar on cue as his esteemed diner guests delicately indulge in his gruesome grub ... pate indeed Dr. Lector.

Anthony Hopkins relishes (blatant pun intended) in this third chapter, (actually a prequel) as the menacing yet witty, evil yet charming, Dr. Lector. Hopkins is joined by a stellar cast that had me frothing at the bit to get into the theater. They've wrangled cutey Ed Norton as FBI agent Will Graham, Studasnarus Rex Ralph Fiennes ( who will later frolic about tattooed and naked for our visual delights!) as the crowned villain, Emily Watson does a dynamic blind woman, Phillip Seymour Hoffman (also to be seen naked-ish laterBUT nay as dirty thought inducing as delectable Ralphie) plays a smarmy slouching journalist, Harvey Kietel dresses up as FBI's Jack Crawford and Mary Louise Parker plays agent Graham's loving wife. How's that for a tempting gaggle of thespians? How could it fail? And it doesn't.

The Red Dragon indulges the followers of the devilish doctor as we finally meet the man that caught him. His capturer is FBI agent Graham (Ed - "I don't want to talk about Keeping The Faith. F*** off you make a movie then! I worked with DeNiro"- Norton). His encounters with Dr. Lector actually cause him to retire from the the Bureau completely.

But Agent Graham had a knack for catching serial killers of the more in-depth, brutal, kind. He was so intelligent in fact, he even fascinated Dr. Lector (Anthony Hopkins). They almost became a friends, as he grew closer to discovering the truth about the helpful Doctors' culinary preferences and extracurricular activities.

So when a new bonifide nut case dubbed "The Tooth Fairy" starts butchering suburban dwellers down to their family pet, the head FBI honcho, John Crawford (Harvey Keitel) begs agent Graham to come out of retirement and assist them. They need his special talents and…
actually need him to cozy up to the incarcerated Dr. Lector for his advise on the matter. See, turns out before Graham snagged the doctor they collaborated on a few cases and together they're a powerful crime-solving duo - sick I know. The frazzled FBI guys figure the two still have a special bond of sorts and they need them to find the latest madman.

Agent Graham reluctantly agrees. He flies to the first crime scene and jumps in. Then meets with Lector. Lector cant resist the praise and also agrees in his own twisted way...

This chapter's villain, The Red Dragon, is another creative nightmare of a serial killer specimen. The Red Dragon is an egomaniac that believes he is granting his victims a special audience along his path of metamorphous; to his "becoming." Yech. He's a twisted demented creep that happens to live in a ghosts-of-the-past world that makes Norman Bate's childhood look sedate and relatively abuse free. We never learn too much, but we get the crystal clear jagged point before he was The Red Dragon he was an abused boy/man that finally simply snapped from the relentless pressure.

Agent Graham and Hannibal are racing against time to find this current incarnation of the devil on earth. He prefers to kill every full moon. It's his thing. That gives the crime-fighting duo a mere ten days to stop him.

But wait what's this? Dr. Lector is not being totally Kosher with the young agent? Hmm.

Ed Norton is fabulous and believable as a man with a special talent for seeing the evidence others overlook. Ed's a swell actor anyway - duh - but here he plays off Hannibal with an honest deep immersion in the character that makes us join him in his fear and fascination of the certifiable Herr Doctor.

Anthony Hopkins is just brilliant, as always. Here is no exception. I actually enjoyed the last two fully- who didn't love the Ray Liotta brain-sautéing scene? Tony sparkles as Lector. Somehow he makes Hannibal likable and gleefully gregarious in a sarcastic inside joke way. Of course we are in on the jokes so they are a hoot!

Ralph Fiennes plays the bad guy, Red Dragon. Dear god was it hard to hate him. I mean sure as this whack job Francis Dolarhyde, The Red Dragon, he's got a "deformity" but people it is still Ralph Fiennes and he's not under that much makeup. The filmmakers did set up a scene for those of us in the "Ralph Fienne's Mansteak Man Fan Club" of worshippers. They had it spelled out for us, that while he wasn't physically "ugly," thanks to years of mental and physical abuse, he believed himself a monster. But still when Ralph began to show off his ornate body tattoos via a completely naked and buffed up body I forgot where I was for a moment or two and drank the man in slowly, while the tango music of love played softly in my mind and he and I swayed - him still naked and tattooed - under a tall wispy palm tree …Ralph is sticky bun sweet with slurpable gooey frosting oozing from his delectably tender loins….meow!

The gals in the film, Emily Watson and Mary Louise Parker are radiant. Emily Watson plays a blind woman with a rare actor's skill. She's the one who…well I wont ruin the story. But I will say she and Ms. Parker are equally mesmerizing and gorgeous creatures that just top off the great cast.

This is supercreepiousloiusly delicious! The doctor is in and he's serving up his special brand of terror and grizzly goulash for your enjoyment.

Snack recommendation: Smores and Chianti

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