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Hannibal Season 2 Review
Taking everything that we already know and gleefully spinning it on its head, Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal reinvention continues to surprise and enthral with its wondrous and demented retelling of stories both old and new.Season 1 climaxed with the shocking twist that saw FBI profiler Will Graham going off the deep end; framed and driven near-insane by his supposed friend, psychologist Hannibal Lecter, after he discovered that the good doctor was actually the serial killer that the FBI have been hunting for. Season 2 hits us with arguably an even more shocking twist right in its opening few seconds, flashing forward to a future event which will mould the course of events across the season that you’re about to see.
Whilst an audacious gambit, the act pays off in the end, as we follow Will’s increasingly in-control situation in the mental asylum, starting to play those around him in much the same way as his adversary would do in the same situation whilst, all the while, Hannibal is doing his best FBI profiler impression and assisting the oblivious Agent Jack Crawford in hunting the latest slew of psycho-killers. It’s an interesting role-reversal, and it offers up a much-needed second layer to Hugh Dancy’s excellent portrayal of dogged profiler Will GrahamHis super-empathy was his own undoing in the first season, but he now gets to play offence this time around, proving a much more formidable force now that he knows who his opponent is. Mikkelsen’s Hannibal continues to be a defining redefinition of the character, and Fishburne gets more meat to sink his teeth into this time around – and almost all of the supporting characters get their chance to shine, along with the nice guest stars (including Amanda Plummer and Jeremy Davies, although Boardwalk’s Michael Pitt steals the show’s last few episodes in a role that fans of the movies and books will lap up).
Often so cinematic that it feels like you’re watching a series of movies rather than a TV show – complete with the stunning visuals and haunting audio you’ve come to expect from the show – you’ll want to binge-watch this over a weekend and then fast-forward to 2015 to find out what happens next.
Hannibal Season 2 Blu-ray Picture QualityHannibal: The Complete Season Two comes to UK Region B-locked Blu-ray with likely the exact same outstanding video presentation that adorns its 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 High Definition 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 weathered look and Hannibal’s flawless dress-code of suits and cravats.
Hannibal is not only one of the best shows on TV, but one of the best-looking shows available.
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.
Hannibal Season 2 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.
The audio is a wildly engaging atmospheric affair that is often more disturbing than even the bloody killings and nightmare dream sequences.
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 2 Blu-ray ExtrasThe first season of this excellent series was somewhat unravelled on the extras front when it hit UK Blu-ray without any of the superb extras that adorned the US disc. Thankfully this error has been rectified here, with no such omissions; the set boasting revealing Audio Commentaries from the cast and crew for over half of the episodes, as well as a whopping 82-minute Documentary into the making of the series, a 13-minute accompanying design Featurette, a 12-minute look at the effects work, a brief Season 2 overview, some cast and crew Webisodes, an 8-minute Gag Reel and a slew of Deleted Scenes, totalling an extra 12 minutes of footage.
Completing a stunning Blu-ray package we get a comprehensive selection of superb extra features.
Hannibal Season 2 Blu-ray VerdictUndoubtedly one of the best shows on TV, Fuller's reinvention of Hannibal continues to surprise and enthral, dissect and disgust, compel and creep under your skin. Still effortlessly incorporating many elements from both Harris's work, and the numerous preceding adaptations - but putting a distinctive spin on them - this is unmissable TV.
Visually opulent, with an intense and immensely creepy score, it’s an intelligent and exquisitely grotesque work of psychologically horrific art.
The UK Region B-locked Blu-ray release boasts stunning video, audio and extras - mirroring its US counterpart - and remains a must-have purchase for fans of the series, of the character, of the franchise, or of quality crime drama in general.
With several seasons already planned out, and a third one due to be aired next year, it's a testament to the strength of this retelling that, in spite of the fact that we've already seen in Manhunter/Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal what might happen in the future, we still want to desperately know what happens next.
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