Cast: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne
Release Date: Now Available On Blu-ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Disc Rating: 9.5/10
Hannibal (Mads Mikkelsen) is on the run in Europe — accompanied by his psychiatrist, Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian Anderson) — sporting a new identity, but servicing the same insatiable appetite. As the lives of Will (Hugh Dancy) and Jack (Laurence Fishburne) converge toward Hannibal again, each with their own motivations to catch him once and for all, their deadly dance turns in startling and unexpected ways.
The third (and unfortunately final) season of ‘Hannibal’ picks up some time following the bloody confrontation at Hannibal’s that left the majority of our cast in exceptionally bad shape, each still retaining scars both physical and mental. The first half of the season initially follows Will, Jack and Alana (as well as Hannibal and Bedelia) individually as they pick up the pieces of themselves and each subsequently move onto plans and partnerships they hope will ultimately result in the capture of the cannibalistic doctor Hannibal who himself is now living comfortably in hiding within Europe accompanied by his ex-psychiatrist Bedelia. As the pieces slowly form together and alliances are both formed and renewed, a confrontation in Europe seems inevitable.
Continuing to prove itself one of the most impressive, unique and gorgeous shows on television, ‘Hannibal’ also makes some drastic changes in its third season as it breaks away from what series creator Bryan Fuller so aptly refers to as the ‘killer of the week’ formula and begins to more intricately explore both the individuality of the key characters as well as the complex relationships that exist between them. It also increases the level of intensity not to mention the blood and gore, as surprising as that may be, with a few moments this season causing even a huge horror fan such as myself to occasionally cringe at the surprising brutality, especially for a show initially broadcast on network television.
While in many ways it makes the cancellation even more disappointing knowing that we won’t be able to experience Fuller’s intended five season plan, it’s great to see this season offer a huge glimpse at his intended reimagining of Hannibal’s overall story. It bravely takes upon itself the task of adapting (and somewhat reimagining) Harris’ first Hannibal novel ‘Red Dragon’ (from which the series’ key characters were based) in the second half of the season. What’s even more surprising and impressive is that the first half of the season while taking place prior to all but one of the books cleverly takes numerous elements from the novels ‘Hannibal Rising’ and ‘Hannibal’ and works them into that aspect of the story, even directly recreating certain sequences from the novel(s) and then taking them a step further in order to truly give the hardcore fans of the novels an unexpected treat or two. The second half of the season jumps three years and adapts the novel of ‘Red Dragon’; having only recently read the book I can say it also does so with surprising accuracy, while making some mild and expected changes and alterations to accommodate the television series, although nothing drastic up until the finale where Fuller’s intended vision guides the storyline beautifully and unforced to the desired next direction and drastically ventures from the ending of the novel, yet in the best way possible. Richard Armitage (The Hobbit films) also guest stars in the ‘Red Dragon’ arc as Francis Dolarhyde and he delivers a phenomenal and downright terrifying portrayal of the notable character, easily one of the best yet.
While Bryan Fuller has publicly stated that his intended run for ‘Hannibal’ was five seasons which has caused some visible pain among fans, myself included, don’t let that keep you from experiencing this fantastic season which is almost surely the best of the three; many who haven’t yet had the pleasure of the final season may find some comfort in the knowledge that while this wasn’t the intended ending for the series, the season wraps in most aspects and nonetheless serves as a surprisingly satisfying close for the show as a whole. It may not be perfect or what was intended in the larger picture, but Fuller certainly made certain to wrap events in a place that serves as a suitable finish at the very least.
Fellow fans of the remarkable series ‘Hannibal’ will absolutely want to make certain to pick up a copy of ‘Hannibal: Season Three’ on Blu-ray in order to complete your collections. Rest assured that the cancellation of the series certainly hasn’t affected the Blu-ray release and its content in the slightest and the third (and final) season delivers outstanding high definition video and audio presentations in addition to numerous hours of extraordinary and in depth bonus content including a two-hour behind the scenes look at the reimagining of ‘Red Dragon’ and a great deal more (more detailed information regarding the bonus content can be found in the special features section of the technical specification coverage below) which should easily make this release a definite must own.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hannibal: Season Three’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the show’s original 1.78:1 Aspect Ratio on all of the third and final seasons episodes. The video presentations look fantastic, delivering a sharp, detailed and exceptional presentation on every episode with the exception of some very mild instances of banding. They continually hold up impressively even during the fast moving and constant darkly lit sequences, never resulting in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible, a notable accomplishment considering some sequences in the season could be hard to decipher in High Definition on broadcast television as a result of their incredibly dark nature. Overall, these are phenomenal high definition video presentations that should easily please fans of series.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on all 13 Season Three episodes. These lossless multichannel soundtracks sound wonderful, providing a crisp, clean and consistently active audio presentation on each episode, utilizing all five available channels regularly in order to surround the viewer with the series’ always exceptional soundtrack in addition to plenty of action-oriented, creepy and almost psychedelic auditory effects among more, while never resulting in any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, these are exceptional and hard hitting 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtracks that should not disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Hannibal: Season Three’ is absolutely jam-packed with numerous hours of entertaining and in depth bonus content. Included on the release are ‘Producer’s Cut’ versions of 7 episodes, along with ‘Audio Commentary by the Cast and Crew’ on 10 episodes. We are also treated to an incredibly in depth multi-part behind the scenes look at the series’ reimagining of Red Dragon in ‘Getting the Old Scent Again: Reimagining Red Dragon’ (running approximately 2 hours and 4 minutes in total), plus ‘Post-Mortem with Scott Thompson Websisodes’ featuring cast and crew guest appearances (running approximately 1 hour altogether), along with a number of Featurettes exploring everything from aspects of the show this season to its fan base, the included Featurettes are: ‘Beyond the Mind Palace’ (running approximately 19 minutes), ‘Hannibal On The Run’ (approximately 20 minutes), ‘Hannibal Season 3: Killer Intentions’ (17 minutes), and ‘Avid Fannibals’ (19 minutes). A number of ‘Deleted Scenes’ (approximately 10 minutes altogether), and a ‘Gag Reel’ (9 minutes) are also included.