The Film (4/5)
Manhunter stars William Petersen (To Live and Die in L.A.) as Will Graham a retired FBI investigator who has the distinction of being the man who brought Hannibal Lecktor (spelling for Manhunter version)to justice. His career took too many dark and violent turns, and he decided to retire early and move to Florida. That is until a killer known as the Tooth Fairy (Tom Noonan) began his killing spree, and the FBI gets Graham back into the game to track down the psycho who murders whole families under the full moon.
Manhunter is tonally different (I guess that's being Mr. Obvious) from Jonathan Demme's later Silence of the Lambs. However, the film though it does certain honor Thomas Harris' source material is in certain ways an excellent adaptation of the work, and yet a distillation of the same work. Mostly, however, Manhunter seems to be a more violent and complex cinematic companion piece to Mann's popular-at-the-time TV series Miami Vice. That is not to say Manhunter is Miami Vice the movie, it just seems a lot of it's visual aesthetic borrows from the show.
It is, however, an excellent film in it's own right, and a great beginning to the Hannibal Lector cinematic legacy. The film once it gets going is quite suspenseful and well paced for the most part. Mann provides some excellent and memorable visuals throughout the film. Petersen makes an excellent Will Graham, and Noonan makes an effectively creepy villain. Brian Cox does Lecktor justice in his first cinematic outing making him quite intelligent, and understated, but in a different way than Hopkins would later take the role.
Scream Factory have brought Manhunter to Blu-ray in a quite nice 2:35:1 1080p transfer. I can't say how this compares to the prior MGM Blu-ray, but as there is no indication that this is a new transfer, so it might match the prior release. That being said colors are well reproduced, detail is excellent, and there is an organic grain structure throughout. There is some minor softness throughout, and the director's cut does have some very obvious standard definition inserts, but if you want to see the DC that is the only way to go.
The audio is presented with a DTS-HD MA 5.1 track in English which is quite effective. The dialogue, score, and ambient sound comes through nicely, and I did not detect any issues with the sound.
Scream Factory have provided a series of both new and archival extras. We get new interviews with Dante Spinotti (DP), William Petersen, Tom Noonan, and Joan Allen and then a piece called the Music of Manhunter with the people behind the film's music both score and electronic pop. The DC has a Mann commentary, extra interviews, and featurettes. There are also trailers, and galleries.
Manhunter is a tight suspenseful and stylish thriller from director Michael Mann. It is an excellent introduction to Hannibal Lector that has been overshadowed by the Silence of the Lambs, and is ripe for rediscovery. The Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent and comes with a nice slate of extras. RECOMMENDED.