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Anthony Hopkins is back as the good 'n' hungry Dr. Hannibal "the Cannibal" Lecter, and, given the hype surrounding his return, you'd think Elvis had reentered the freakin' building. Set seven years after Silence of the Lambs, the, er, on-the-lamb Hopkins has strutted off to Italy for some fine art and relaxation. But always on the Hannibal hunt is the ghastly disfigured Mason Verger (a Lecter-attack survivor who's only slightly more obsessed with the doc than most moviegoers).
And he wants Hannibal to pay for what he has done. Hopkins is a hypnotic and charming antihero (are you actually laughing when he's mutilating someone?) but hams it up a bit too much. Jodie Foster replacement Julianne Moore, as FBI agent Clarice Starling, plays it tough, straight and clean. It's nearly impossible to duplicate the fear and tension of the Oscar-winning original, but there's a good-faith effort here, even if it's not as delectable as Lambs. And that gross-out ending nobody will tell you about? Let's just say it's a mind-altering experience.