Film review: Hannibal Rising

Hannibal Rising
2007
Dino De Laurentiis Company

STARRING Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li, Helena-Lia Tachovská, Richard Leaf, Dominic West, Richard Brake, Ivan Marevich, Aaron Thomas, Rhys Ifans, Kevin McKidd, Denis Menochet
WRITTEN BY Thomas Harris
PRODUCED BY Tarak Ben Ammar, Dino De Laurentiis, Martha De Laurentiis
DIRECTED BY Peter Webber

SHOT BY Ben Davis
EDITED BY Valerio Bonelli, Pietro Scalia
MUSIC BY Ilan Eshkeri, Shigeru Umebayashi
DISTRIBUTED BY The Weinstein Company, MGM, Paramount Pictures

Screened on 2007-01-27

We all know Hannibal Lecter, we all giggle at his sardonic musings while he scalps.  And apparently many fans wanted to know: why?  Why Hannibal the Cannibal?  Loveable Hit-or-Miss Producer Dino De Laurentiis was tickled, so Hannibal’s formative years become our zoetrope.  Lithunia belches young Lecter into a world at war.  Throw in some ravenous Nazis and Lecter’s family, and you have a recipe for vengeance.  Lecter develops his penchant for blood-letting during his campaign of revenge against the Nazi war criminals that end up dispatching his family.  By the time Lecter has reached his Angry Young Man years, now as Gaspard Ulliel, he’s the youngest medical student in Paris and living with his alarmingly attractive, slightly unbalanced, and decidedly risqué step-Aunt, played by Gong Li, who shows a frankly distracting amount of skin for a single upper-class foreigner trying to keep to herself – I’m simply talking historically, mind you; the meandering two-hour-plus goth journey benefits from a little distraction.  The rest of the distraction finds its place in large quantities of “I’ll Just Peek” gore which quickly become sensational and unnecessary (while viewing, the word that came to mind was “pornographic”).

Young Ulliel knew he had some big shoes to fill, but I fear his feet were simply the wrong size.  He’s too clean… too clean, too green. He did his best, but what would Lecter be without his untouchable brilliance and macabre wit?  Ulliel (or who knows, perhaps writer Harris), never get to the heart of young Lecter’s madness, and leave us with a one-note, uninspired performance that simply treads water; the rest of the blame falls on director Peter Webber (Girl With a Pearl Earring) who treats suspense like confetti.  Like the other bastards of Silence, Rising bears no resemblance to its predecessor and champion – still, the world turns, and Lecter-philes will rejoice.  Inspired by a producer’s whim, not a writer’s muse, Rising is a confused passing glance into a phenomenon of human nature which will now continue to be misunderstood.  Wanna see why a man becomes a cannibal?  Watch Jungle Holocaust.  It may be sophomoric, but it’s above Rising.  You’ll see Rising once, and the next time it crosses your path will be in an enormous pile of Previously Viewed DVDs that only promises to get bigger.

written by David Ashley

Links:
Film’s site
Trailer
My roundtalbe interview participation with the cast/crew

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