Hannibal is a worthy follow up to Silence of the Lambs. While the latter film primarily showcased how suspense without gore could be used to build a film to a frightening crescendo, the former is more traditional in that it uses both elements to achieve its deserved effect.
At the start of the film, we see agent Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore, replacing Jodie Foster from Silence of the Lambs) in a bit of hot water following a botched drug arrest. Her reputation in apprehending the famous Buffalo Bill serial killer, with the aid of Hannibal "the cannibal" Lector (Anthony Hopkins), is the only thing that saves from her from total ruin. Exploiting her plight, Mason Verger (Gary Oldman), the only victim to have ever survived Lector, uses her to get access to Lector (who has been in hibernation in Europe). Of course, everyone wants to get a hold of Lector and they all die in the process except for Starling, who holds a special place in Lector's heart.
It should be kept in mind when viewing the film that one logical, albeit cynical, ending to a film like this is that Starling goes down the same path that Lector has taken (the idealistic ending would be that Lector himself is reformed, and would be giving humanity too much credit). The time, ten years after her first encounter, is ripe for her give up all the trappings of society and join hands with Lector (this is reminiscent of yet another Anthony Hopkins film).
Moore does a great job of playing a weary FBI agent who is tired of the killing and bureaucracy and who is on the verge of collapse. Hopkins has his maniacal moments and you can almost see him salivating for real every time he executes (pardon the pun) his next meal. Oldman is not recognisable (and not openly credited) as the disfigured Verger, but he does a terrific job of playing the villain.
The ending of Hannibal, in terms of the gore, just degenerates into plain silliness. I'm no doctor (actually I am), but I'm quite convinced what we saw on the screen wouldn't be possible. While the film portrays Lector as a vigilante killer who can't control his appetite, it doesn't succeed in eliciting my sympathy for him or for any of the other actors, in contrast to Silence of the Lambs. This could be director Ridley Scott's intention, or not, but there's no denying that the initial cat-and-mouse suspense more than makes up the silly ending and the depravity of the characters only servers to illustrate the miserable nature of the human condition.