Hannibal Rising *
Directed by Peter Webber
Written by Thomas Harris, based on his novel.
Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibal Lecter
Rhys Ifans as Vladis Grutas
Gong Li as Lady Murasaki Shikibu
Helena Lia Tachovska as Mischa
Dominic West as Inspector Pascal Popil
Aaron Thomas as Young Hannibal Lecter
Kevin McKidd as Petras Kolnas
Richard Brake as Enrikas Dortlich
117 Minutes(Rated R for strong grisly violent content and some language/sexual references.)
In afterthought, the Hannibal Lector movies are nothing amazing. "Silence of the Lambs" is a great film, indeed, but I still have my doubts of if it should have won Best Picture in 1991. And then there was "Hannibal" which was a terrible and dull sequel, especially after such a long wait between films. And then "Red Dragon" was decent, but not especially memorable. And now there is "Hannibal Rising," the fourth film in Thomas Harris' series, and the story that is supposed to start it all. Harris wrote the screenplay for a change, but that doesn't help the story material, and in the end this prequel of Hannibal is a lifeless and pointless installment in the series, that made me want to never know the origins of Hannibal Lector, who was voted by AFI as the most creepiest villain in film history. One problem, and pretty much the biggest problem, is the lack of Anthony Hopkins who made the other three films worth seeing the most. Hopkins won an Oscar for a mere twenty minutes of screen time in "Silence of the Lambs," and it is clearly one of the most talked about and parodied characters in history. But there is no Hopkins to be found-instead we have a young Hannibal trying too hard to sound like Hopkins.
"Hannibal Rising" starts off with young Hannibal trying to protect his sister Mischa from the people that killed the rest of his family in World War II. After his family is killed the killers decide to take coop in his home, and they find Hannibal and his sister, chain them up, and then decide what to do with them. Eight years later, Hannibal is living in an orphanage still upset about the loss of his sister. He doesn't talk much, except for in the middle of the night when he has horrible dreams of the past. The first forms of violence that spark form him is when he beats up a bully that was making fun of him. Years later he is at a medical school in France, where he meets Lady Murasaki , who teaches him how to use a sword. Hannibal continues to have nightmares about what the men did to his family, and mostly his sister, and he decides to use his knowledge of the sword to get his bloody revenge.
One thing that struck me halfway through the film was that there is nobody to root for. We can't root for Hannibal, because even though this is a story of redemption, we know what Hannibal becomes and what he is, and for that he will always be a villain. It would have been a nice touch if Harris was able to create a human quality to a character that we always saw as evil, and maybe at the same time given us the chance to see the previous films in a new light. But instead he doesn't try to be arty in any way at all-just trying to up the body count as much as possible. In continuing the theory above, we also can't root for the people that Hannibal is trying to kill. They are almost as bad as Hannibal is, but the audience is incapable of showing any compassion for Hannibal's situation, and we end up being onlookers that wish they were looking away. In the other three Hannibal films we've had a detective to root for, and there is a detective character present here, but he is only around for two or three scenes that he is more of an extra than a main character. "Hannibal Rising" is just plain lifeless-and it seems like no effort went into the script or the film as a whole. It is proof that we don't need any more Hannibal films, and if we do we need Hopkins to balance it out a bit more. Hopkins is Hannibal, and you could only imagine what the film is like without him. Think about it. Watch "Silence of the Lambs," and skip all the scenes with Lector. Gaspard Ulliel may be named Hannibal Lector here, but he isn't the Hannibal that we know and love, and the one we know that we love to hate. "Hannibal Rising" is easy to pass, and let the origins of Hannibal Lector to remain a mystery.