Hannibal Rising
Not only is this wine rated better than the movie, but it’s cheaper than popcorn.

Theatrical Release Date: 02/09/2007
Director: Peter Webber
Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li, Dominic West, Rhys Ifans

Hannibal Lector has transcended into the American subconscious. All you have to say is “Clarice” or “Fava beans and a nice Chianti” with that weird slurping sound to know what we’re talking about. The character played so well by Sir “Anthony Hopkins was disturbing enough to nix the possible real life relationship with Martha Stewart

This film and book was the attempt to show how and why Hannibal became the monster that he is. Thomas Harris wrote the book and the screenplay at roughly the same time.

The benefit of this approach to me (someone who has read the book and seen the movie) is that it matches nicely. Where there were a few story-lines missing, they weren’t necessary to further the plot of a two hour movie. By leaving that call up to the original author while the story is in development is very smart.

The movie itself is not as bad as I thought it may be from the other reviews trashing it. While I should never let those other reviewer’s poison my thoughts, I usually let them in a little. In this case, they were more wrong than right.

The locations were fantastic, photography / cinematography was good, and the director did a good enough job of getting the actors to do the job that this story demanded. I didn’t think it was that bloody, but some have thought it was too much so…

No standout performances per se, but my only problem with the casting was of Hannibal in Ulliel. Not that he didn’t do a capable job, but because he has a physical trait that would have translated to adulthood (a very large dimple on his left cheek) and thus doesn’t work in the entire Hannibal saga. The whole tie-in with the mask as seen in the movie poster I also find laughable. It’s proof that the character has taken over the story, which leads to my criticism of the film and book.

The problem is that the story isn’t great. Even if the movie is dead on with the story, it won’t be good unless the story is interesting enough to be engaging.

The first two Hannibal books (Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs) were so powerful because of how eerily real they could be. Hannibal and Hannibal Rising became less about believable, and more about the character and what we hoped that character would do because of his interestingness that Hopkins gave the character.

I do agree with some of the criticism of the story / film in that even the atrocities that define the fictional childhood of Hannibal Lector should not allow for any of the humanization for what the fictional character did later in life.

I only say this because of experience in studying serial killers where there is always this drive to identify why they are the way they are. The only manner in which it is justified to empathize with killers is to learn how to better identify and / or stop them. Yes this is fictional, but it happens with many criminals, especially serial murderers.

While this may have been better than the old school original “Manhunter”, it wasn’t as good as “Hannibal” – which wasn’t as good as “Red Dragon” – which wasn’t nearly as good as “The Silence of the Lambs”. It gets a fairly average 2 of 5 from me.

I’m hoping Harris stops the lunacy here, as it’s gone on more than enough.