Posted in: Disc Reviews by Archive Authors on April 10th, 2003
Red Dragon is not only the prequel to The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, but it is also a remake of a film called Manhunter. The story fits nicely into the Hannibal Lector trilogy, and the story holds true to Manhunter.
After a brush with death and Hannibal Lecter, FBI agent Will Graham (Edward Norton) is called back into service to capture an elusive new killer “The Tooth Fairy”. Forced to face his fears and Doctor Lecter once again Will starts to get pulled into the …ind of “The Tooth Fairy (this is the name given to him by the press, he calls himself a great Red Dragon).
Will discovers that the killings are methodical and very well planned, not crimes of opportunity but planned to the last horrific detail. He must again enlist the help of Lecter who is now in prison. Will and Lecter have a love-hate relationship that builds with Lecter’s game of cat and mouse. As a prequel to The Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon has some very large shoes to fill and it does a very good job filling them.
This film contains an English Dolby Digital 5.1 audio track for the movie and 2.0 for the special features. This film relies heavily on a dark, brooding and very dynamic score. The sound is powerful and well mixed with ample use of the surrounds. Lecter’s well mannered European accent comes through with its entire make your skin crawl creepiness and bass is full and extended. There is an explosion towards the end of the movie that will tests your subwoofers ability to play very low and very loud, hang on the glasses on the coffee table.
The film is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer of reference quality. Full of drab and dreary sets the film demands a good quality transfer to maintain contrast and it is fantastic. From the dark recesses of Lecter’s cell to the Dolarhyde house, as well when we are in Florida with Will the colors and bright and cheery. This is an excellent transfer of a very well shot film.
As we are looking at the Director’s edition we will break this down into two groups one for the regular edition and the second for the extra discs including with this edition.
The first disc contains a commentary by director Brett Ratner and writer Ted Tally (who also penned the original screenplay for The Silence of the Lambs). Also we have the option of watching the film with a commentary by Danny Elfman who penned the score. We have Hannibal Lecter’s FBI file which is a nice way to fit the three films together for those that have not read the books as it contains a fair bit of back history about Hannibal the Cannibal as well as some comments by John Douglas a renowned criminal profiler about the good doctor. Lastly we have a number of deleted scenes and some DVD-ROM content (I could not get this to work for some reason and at this time I am awaiting a reply from Universal about it) and a short behind the scenes documentary.
Moving on to the second disc we start of with a documentary about the making of Red Dragon this is from a different perspective then the behind the scenes feature from disk one and does not contain any overlapping footage, also there is Brett Ratners first film from NYU film school. We get the opportunity to look at the screen test for hair, make-up and wardrobe with a commentary that shows some unique aspects of film making. Lastly there is a featurette about making the Leed’s house crime scene using actual forensics experts.
The menus are all very well done motion menus and the second disc contains an easter egg as well (I will leave it up to you to find… if you can’t though, check the forums and I will post it there for everyone).
This film does an excellent job of wrapping up the Hannibal trilogy of films, I also think that it is at least equal to if not maybe even a little better then “The Silence of the Lambs” (sorry guys I just did not find it that scary). It is a much better film then Hannibal which I found to be completely too over the top, so if you where disappointed with Hannibal trust me you owe it to yourself to check out this film. I remember that after seeing this film for the first time, for a week or so I was obsessed with finding out more about William Blake and the Red Dragon; this is one of the things that makes a great film, the ability to hold your attention long after you finish watching it. It might not make my top ten list of all-time favorites but, it certainly is on the top 15.
Special Features List
- Brett Ratner’s video diary
- The Leeds’ house crime scen
- Visual effects featurette
- Screen and film tests
- Makeup application featurette
- Brett Ratner’s untitled student film
- Storyboards to final feature comparisons
- “Inside the Mind of a Serial Killer,” hosted by John Douglas
- “The Making of Red Dragon”
- Deleted scenes
- Music score commentary with composer Danny Elfman
- Renowned FBI profiler John Douglas builds Lecter