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Which to choose... the stunning, if dated, original? The more faithful remake with the superb cast?
In the end, I have to go with Manhunter here, because it treated Hannibal Lector as a minor supporting character, and is still the more memorable of the two films. Brett Ratner just seems to know how to waste talent on utterly average, forgettable sequels and adaptations.
Both are great films, but I prefer Red Dragon mainly because I prefer Anthony Hopkins as Lector over Brian Cox.
I prefer Manhunter.
Whichever one had that corny Iron Butterfly scene. DUHNUHNUHNUH...
I slightly prefer Manhunter. Although Brian Cox's Hannibal "Lecktor" is often considered by some to be the definitive Lecter, for me he's actually a distant third behind Hopkins and Hannibal's Mads Mikkelsen. I don't know, he's more like a loony madman in Manhunter than a suave cannibalistic mastermind. Hopkins might be too old and maybe a little too hammy in Red Dragon, but he's still my Lecter of choice. I will say though that Manhunter has a much better Will Graham and, ofcourse, a much better director behind the camera. While I wouldn't argue that the quality gap between the two is THAT big, Mann's direction leaves much more of an impact than Ratner's.
Red Dragon was okay but at the end of the day, it was just another murder mystery thriller albeit one that's well-acted and well-directed. I enjoyed it enough but it barely left an impact on me. Manhunter on the other hand, was almost an arthouse film in places and I mean that in the best possible way. No competition, Manhunter all the way.
Let me be the first to buck the trend. Red Dragon had a superior cast. Yes, Manhunter is well made and interprets the source material better, but when you love Silenxe of the Lambs like I do, than Red Dragon feels more like a prequel than Manhunter does. Book closed at that point for me.
I prefer Mann's film.
I'll take Manhunter for sheer style, but god, I wish it had Red Dragon's climax.