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Ghost Canyon

'Manhunter' [Blu-ray]
(Brian Cox, William Petersen, Dennis Farina, et al / Blu ray / R / (1986) 2011 / MGM)

Overview: 'Manhunter' stars William Petersen (CSI) as ex-FBI agent Will Graham, who is coaxed out of semiretirement to track down a serial killer who has thwarted the authorities at every turn.

Blu ray Verdict: Based on Thomas Harris' first Hannibal Lecter novel Red Dragon, 'Manhunter' stars William Petersen as former FBI Profiler Will Graham who returns to duty to persuit a serial killer who slaughters families. Graham's unique asset in profiling criminals is the ability to become so intimate with their thoughts that they combat with his sanity.

In order to get his "scent" back for these murderers, Graham visits serial cannibal Dr. Hannibal Lecktor played by Brian Cox. Graham was the one who caught Lecktor but he still fears Lecktor because of what he is and Graham continues to be terrorized by him to some degree through out the film.

The killer in question, named Francis Francis Dollarhyde and played by Tom Noonan, slaughters these families and arranges their bodies to stare at him in awe according to his own fantasties. Dollarhyde feels that if he kills enough people he will "transform" into a being who would be accepted after feeling rejected all his life. This being Francis hopes become is The Red Dragon from William Blake's painting "The Great Red Dragon and the Woman Clothed with the Sun".

Micheal Mann's adaptation of Harris' novel is serviceable but it lacks it certain areas. First off the atmosphere of the film is dark but at the same time Mann has that annoying habit of insisting upon the post modern aestetic of the time; cold and lacking in intimatcy and all bathed in white. Worst of all the 1980's pop songs date the film unnessecarily. I am not against films looking contemporary but here it's just not reqired. The later day Lecter films all succeed in having a timeless look to them.

The characterizations are also questionable. William Petersen as Will Graham seems like a complex indvidual but he is written as more of a "tough guy" better suited as a cop in a Dirty Harry film or his previous effort in To Live and Die in LA and not someone who is truly, emotionally scared by what he does. Brian Cox does a decent job as "Lecktor" but he's forgettable in this film. He doesn't penitrate the screen at all.

Cox certaintly comes off as a tad bit left of center, but not the man so evil that professional psychiatrists simply describe him as a monster! Sorry, no! Lastly the biggest mis-calculation is Francis Dollarhyde. Mann entirely omits Dollarhyde's tragic childhood in his screenplay, the core motivation of Francis' sick fantasties, and makes him to be some sort of super human freak who can kill people with little effort. Tom Noonan just barely manages to capture the pathetic side of Dollarhyde but the character's credibility is all but destroyed at the end of the film.

The finale has Dollarhyde pitted against a swat team who he blasts away with a shot gun and manages to survive several gun shot wounds which he shakes off easily. All this occurs with Iron Butterfly's Inna Godda Davida blaring in the background. Mann missed the point of the character entirely. He seemed more focused on making an extreme villian as opposed to a three dimensional person. This is a Widescreen Presentation (2.35:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.