it’s an intelligent and exquisitely grotesque work of psychologically horrific art
Hannibal Season One Blu-ray Review
“Here we are; a bunch of psychopaths helping each other out.”
Whilst I always enjoyed the great Anthony Hopkins's now-iconic portrayal of Thomas Harris's legendary cannibal super-serial killer, Hannibal Lecter - made famous across a trio of somewhat hit-and-miss thrillers: the superior'Lambs, where he was somewhat pantomime; the flashy Ridley Scott sequel, where his character was more refined, but the story was not; and the wholly unnecessary prequel/remake Red Dragon, where it was only his popularity in the role that saw the character's part in the story aggrandised - my favourite Harris/Hannibal adaptation is easily Michael Mann's underrated 80s thrillerManhunter(the film that was remade asRed Dragon) which I reviewed comprehensively here.
Central to its superiority was not only a far more believable super-serial killer performance from Brian Cox, but also its focus on the lead character, retired FBI special investigator Will Graham, expertly played by the equally under-appreciated William Petersen (who would use it as the groundwork for his latter, more popular asCSImainstay Gil Grissom). Graham was an excellent detective - a super-detective of sorts, since he faced off against Hannibal - but his ability to get inside the minds of his targets, to feel pure empathy for serial killers, left him inwardly battle-damaged, dancing ever closer towards becoming the very thing he has to imagine himself as on a daily basis.
Hannibal, the TV series, takes things back a few years, to look at the events beforeManhunter, and see what brought Graham and Hannibal together in the first place, extending the scope of their working relationship in order to enable them to both investigate a number of crimes together, and become colleagues and possibly even friends.
Hannibal Season One Blu-ray Picture QualityHannibal: The Complete Season One comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray with the same outstanding video presentation that adorned the US counterpart. Given that the show is so dependent on exquisite visuals, it’s a relief that the release does justice to them, promoting the series in its original broadcast aspect ratio of 1.78:1 widescreen and with a 1080p/AVC encode. Detail is excellent throughout, with a wonderful blended focus that drifts unsettlingly from character to character as they speak. Facial observation gets right down to the pores, the texture is unparalleled; clothing weaves are lovingly rendered – showcasing the wild difference between Graham’s more worn look and Hannibal’s flawless dress-code of suits and cravats. Background detail also stuns at every turn, with the framing and cinematography allowing us some truly panoramic – and veritably cinematic – sequences, normally with a striking dead body placed centre-stage. In fact, if it were not for the fact that this series was shot digitally, thus largely robbing it of that natural cinematic feel, this could have easily been movie territory here. The colour scheme is broad and extremely rich, with plenty of deep mahoganies and blood reds, often lacing the sets. The dream/nightmare sequences play with the scheme even further, and the entire series is steeped in blacks and dark shadows, but it holds strong, allowing for excellent shadow detail and no signs of any crush. This has to be one of the best-looking shows on TV, and this Blu-ray release delivers it in stunning, demo fashion.
This has to be one of the best-looking shows on TV, and this Blu-ray release delivers it in stunning, demo fashion.
Hannibal Season One Blu-ray Sound QualityThe accompanying audio track is just as impressive, choosing intensity over bombast and restrained undercurrents of threat rather than invasive shock value elements. It’s a masterwork of sound design, knowing just how to get under your skin and keep you on the edge. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track promotes it exceptionally, crafting a heady, consistent atmosphere which, even during the quieter moments, has an almost imperceptible riff of the score running in the background, to great effect. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently throughout, largely emanating from the fronts and centre stage, but it definitely plays second fiddle to the finely observed effects and the hauntingly evocative score. With a fine thread of LFE usage further throwing you off-balance, this is a fine presentation, perfect at both ends of the spectrum – loud and nuanced – and certainly demo quality.
Hannibal Season One Blu-ray ExtrasThis is the most disappointing area on the release. Unlike the US counterpart, which sported numerous Audio Commentaries, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes and so forth, the UK have their episodes stripped of everything with just a couple of fluffy promotional Featurettes filling the sizable void. If you love the series, you’ll find it hard not to stump up the cash to import, and if you get caught with the cheap UK release then you may well find it hard not to upgrade somewhere down the line.
Is Hannibal Season One Blu-ray Worth BuyingIt’s time to get the scent back...
Bryan 'Heroes' Fuller's Hannibal series far exceeds any expectations placed on a TV show spin-off from this franchise. After all, the young Hannibal prequel movie was terrible and, with Manhunter being such a veritable classic, and Hopkins's portrayal so indelibly etched into the minds of audiences, making a viable and enduring procedural series seemed not only an unenviable task, but a veritably impossible one. Fuller's ambitious plan is to absorb and rework all of Harris’s original tales across seven seasons. Rather than just cover previously trodden territory, however, the show instead greatly expands upon the history of these characters as sketched by Harris's books, using them as a genetic structure from which it cultivates a very new but also very familiar beast. Visually opulent, with an intense and immensely creepy score brooding beneath, it’s an intelligent and exquisitely grotesque work of psychologically horrific art. Not to be missed.
The Region B-locked UK Blu-ray boasts excellent video and audio, only disappointing on the extras front. Indeed your purchasing choices will basically come down to region – if you’re UK-locked, then this is the title you’re restricted to; but if you’ve got multiregion capability then you would be best advised to venture overseas so that you can get the complete package. Either way, this is a must-have purchase.
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