Saw this one today and it was well worth the price of admission. Hopkins was really in his element in this one as I expected he would be and so were Edward Norton and Ralph Fiennes, although I did have somewhat of a difficult time not being reminded of Norton's character in Fight Club for good portions of the movie for some reason. Maybe it was the similar clothes he wears and similar exhaustion experienced. Hard to really forget that role as it seemed to be one of those career defining moments for him even if wasn't perhaps his best work ever.
It's quite early in his career at this point, but I would easily say this was Brett Ratner's most solid effort as a director by far even though I rather enjoyed Rush Hour 2's balance of humor and action finding it to be one of the few sequels that I actually thought outdid and didn't detract from the original. I really was impressed most of all by how seamless this movie was from beginning to end and how much close attention was paid to all the details in getting everything just right. The dialogue between Norton and his wife and son early in the film for example was well done and quite believable as were all the interractions between Hannibal and Will Graham. Nothing cheesey at all that stood out like a sore thumb with plenty of shocking moments tossed in all over the place-some subtle and some blatantly obvious as one would expect. While Lecter was downright menacingly ominous in how brilliant of a criminal mind he possesses, Francis Dolarhyde played by Ralph Fiennes managed to upstage him somehow and was even more evil with one scene standing out that was as well done as I've ever seen from him before in portraying such raw dysfunctionally damaged emotions. Made me think of American Psycho a good bit. Hopkins appears to be aging much more gracefully then Pacino after seeing Simone.
Jrjcd: I couldn't agree with you more about leaving the kiddies at home for this one. There was a couple in front of me that brought their little girl to see this for some reason and all I could think of was damn this girl is going to grow up as deathly afraid of strangely intelligent men as I was of water after seeing Jaws 1 and 2 as a little kid when even the thought of brushing my teeth or going into a pool seemed crazy.