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Hannibal Rising (2007)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Peter Webber

Starring:
Gaspard Ulliel/Hannibal
Rhys Ifans/Vladis
Li Gong/Lady Shikibu
Dominic West/Inspector Pascal Popil
6 10
PLOT-CRUNCH
WW2- When young Hannibal Lecter sees his parents taken out by Germans and his little sister literally devoured by Russian Soldiers; years later, Teenage Mutant Ninja Hannibal (Ulliel) craves revenge and eventually finds out that it’s a dish better served cold with Fava beans and a nice Chianti. Yeehaw!
THE LOWDOWN
Red Garbage/Dragon, aside, I’m a pretty big fan of the Hannibal franchise, and even though this prequel/origin story is Anthony Hokins-less and has been getting awful reviews from the “mainstream” press thus far, I couldn’t help but still look mucho forward to it. So was my quench for Hannibal The Cannibal satisfied? Well yes, no and maybe.

At the end of the knife through the throat, Hannibal Rising had little to do with the Lecter we have learned to love and fear via the other films. Granted there were cute little nods to the other entries spread about and some half-baked/oddball attempts at giving us “origins” (Much like Batman, Hannibal also trained in the art of Samurai…whaaa?) as to Lecter’s present psycho-a-go-go “behavior” but it didn’t go further than that. What Hannibal Rising truly was about is “vengeance”. Yup it was a brutal vigilante flick with slasher film undertones prettied up with a credible period setting and striking production value. But like my grandpa used to say before he left this shitty world: “You can take a whore and drape her in the fanciest of dresses and decorate her with the most dazzling of jewels and she’ll still be a damn whore." Wise man my grandpa was…wise freaking man! So that’s what this film was; a whore in disguise; she couldn’t fool me man!

The ably directed and fast paced (for two hours, I was never bored) Hannibal Rising did the “revenge” tap-dance right for the most part. It established an ugly and provocative “wrong” as to the protagonist; hence getting me on his side hardcore from the get-go. And then it had him seek out imaginative and cruel payback on the slime-ball culprits. On that primal level, I was having a hoot-nanny in my seat with the movie! I was so right there in sprit with kooky Hannibal as he served up some good old fashion eye for an eye and bit-off cheek for a bit-off cheek. I actually often giggled during the murders found in this petting Zoo (yeah I’m that guy) but not because they were funny, but because I was elated to see justice being served. Bottom line: the film simply knew how to push my buttons by having me side with the lead while catering to my most basic of emotions. I was literally getting off at the physical-reimbursements at play here! GOOD TIMES!

Moreover, Gasper Ulliel’s enjoyable performance definitely lent a vicious stab in making me grin from ear to ear throughout, like the Joker eating out Vicky Vale at a balloon store. I so grooved to his peculiar accent, his unique presence, his malevolent smile and insane eyes. Some have called the lad’s display “over the top” or even “campy”; I called it fun f*cking times. If I wouldn’t have warmed up the him; the whole wouldn’t have worked for me. The flick delivered on a more slasher-ish standpoint  as well . It was pretty damn gory and that always fries my grits just the right way. Mean spirited and ballsy; the kills here got the intended reaction out of me i.e. me yelling lots of “f*ck yeah” outloud! You bet I was stomping the yards and getting served the right way in this cinema (you see what I did there, yes, that was the peak of my cleverness...bugh)!

Now, it’s when the film tried to be more than what it was that it failed me. Police on the case subplot? Pretty damn weak and at the end of it all, it went nowhere. Love story? Clumsy, unfocused and far from satisfying. It felt like they didn’t know where to go with the romance hence they went everywhere yet nowhere with it. Psychological dissection of Hannibal's psyche? Is that what it was? Cinematic head-shrinking for dummies was more like it. Result of all that was that the flick didn’t flow like a Guinness into an ice cold pint; it reeked of choppiness and loose ends. I for one (or 3) perceived it as a series of blocks as opposed to one smooth narrative line. Finally; some of the situations demanded some suspension of disbelief as they relied on coincidences in the name of serving the plot, instead of twists of fate to serve common sense.

The first thing I said to my brother (who I saw the film with) when walking out the theatre was “I had fun!” And he replied “So did I!” and that’s all I need to say. Is it a perfect flick? Nope. Was it a decent sequel/prequel to the Hannibal franchise? Not really. But was it an involving and amusing period vigilante/slasher? YOU BET! And that’s all the goodness I needed on this overcast Sunday afternoon. Now you gonna slash-slash with Hannibal or what? Your call Tonto!
GORE
Young Hannibal sure knew how to get down! Beheadings, stabbings, choking, a knife stabbed under one’s chin… the kid was a riot! I’d hang out with him!
ACTING
Gaspard Ulliel (Hannibal) didn’t look a lick like Anthony Hopkins but worked for me in his own right. He had an interesting look, was intense, had magnetism and an unusual accent that made him more “compelling” to watch. Rhys Ifans (Vladis) made for a great villain; I loved to hate him! Li Gong (Lady Shikibu) did what she had to do well; I just wish there was more to the part. Dominic West (Inspector Popil) also clocked in and said his lines adequately. Again…not much of a role.
T & A
Why Hannibal didn’t Gong Li “Gong Li” consequently giving us some ta-ta loving is still beyond me. I just don’t get it Captain! I don’t get it!
DIRECTING
I dug on Webber’s jive behind the lens. He visually capitalized on his varied locations, knew how to generate suspense/atmosphere, and put out a couple of fly shots while being backed up by eye popping cinematography/editing. Flick looked swell to me!
SOUNDTRACK
The potent score supported the images and varied tones of the film in an ideal fashion… whatever the f*ck that means. You figure it out!
BOTTOM LINE
The best way to get your freak on with Hannibal Rising if you ask me is to forget that it's part of the Lecter franchise and avoid comparing it to the other films. They’re totally different "Hannibals"! At the core, Hannibal Rising gave me a lavish, mean spirited, entertaining and gruesome period vigilante/slasher-light opus. With a tighter, smarter and more developed screenplay; maybe it could’ve been something else but as-is, it was 1-2-3 with lots of window dressing posing as "depth". In consequence, I grooved to it for what it was, not for what it clumsily pretended to be. Amen.
BULL'S EYE
Thomas Harris' first novel was Black Sunday in 1975. A film adaptation was made in 1977.

For the first time Thomas Harris wrote the Hannibal Rising screenplay, based on his own novel.

Aaron Thomas played the 8 year old Hannibal in the film.

The scar on Gaspard Ulliel's cheek was a result of a doberman attack when he was 6 years old.

VISIT THE HANNIBAL RISING SITE HERE

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1:41AM on 02/13/2007
I didn't hate this movie, but I didn't love it either. I felt like I'd seen it before, though it certainly has its moments.
I didn't hate this movie, but I didn't love it either. I felt like I'd seen it before, though it certainly has its moments.
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