Hannibal Rising (2007) Movie Review
Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Director: Peter Webber
Producers: Dino De Laurentiis, Martha De Laurentiis and Tarak Ben Ammar
Writers: Thomas Harris
Date Released: February 7, 2007
Gaspard Ulliel as Hannibal Lecter
Aaran Thomas as young Hannibal Lecter
Gong Li as Lady Murasaki
Dominic West as Inspector Pascal Popil
Rhys Ifans as Vladis Grutas
Helena-Lia Tachovska as Mischa Lecter
Kevin McKidd as Petras Kolnas
Richard Brake as Enrikas Dortlich
Stephen Walters as Zigmas Milko
Rating = 2/5 Graves
***May contain some spoilers***
Young Hannibal Lecter is haunted by his past. His parents died during Germans invasion of the Soviet Union, leaving him and his littler sister, Mischa, to fend for themselves. Shortly after, he watched five men kill and eat his sister in front of him. A few years later, this trauma pushes him to haunt down those responsible for his sister’s death. What starts out as a path for revenge and closure turns into a discovery of his true nature.
This movie has its fair share of the bloody, disturbing mess that the Hannibal franchise is known for. And while it doesn’t have the exaggerated blood sprays, spilling guts and whatnots of over the top gore films, the death scenes could still get under your skin. They are drawn out and painful to watch but aren’t too explicit to make you want to look away. The camera usually pans out or shifts angles to avoid showing the graphic parts of the death. Nonetheless, you can still hear their screams, hear the crunch of bones and the soft smush of flesh.
The Grave Review
Hannibal Lecter is back, and this time, we meet him as a creepy teenager with terrible anger management issues and a skewed view of justice. What could have been an in-depth and profound exploration of such celebrated character in the horror genre turns into a cliché revenge story with misappropriations of the samurai culture and a forgettable love story. And while he remains terrifying and ruthless in this one, he is reduced into an incoherent mess, making it difficult for fans to recognize the Hannibal that we all know and love.
In this prequel, Gaspard Ulliel takes on the mantle of young Hannibal Lecter, a challenging role with huge shoes to fill after Anthony Hopkin’s spectacular performance in Silence of the Lamb (1991). And while Ulliel makes a terrifying and unhinge murderer, he doesn’t quite capture Lecter’s charisma and ruthless intelligence from the previous films. Instead, he has turned Hannibal into a sleazy, smug-faced, private-school boy who smiles too much while he kills his victims. If this was how Lecter was in his teens, it must have been one heck of a character development for him to become the evil genius that he is in the other movies.
The film is set vaguely in Europe where Hannibal is taken in by his widowed aunt, who turns out to be Japanese with keen interest on Samurai culture. This leads to a cringey montage where Hannibal becomes her pupil to study the way of the sword. For a few minutes there, you might begin to wonder if you’re actually watching Karate Kid instead of a Hannibal movie, but, to your horror, it really is a Hannibal movie. The Eastern touch doesn’t really add to his character development or have an impact to the movie. It only gives him an excuse to wear that iconic mask and use those shiny, cool samurai swords to carve out his victims’ flesh.
There is also the slightly weird and off-kilter sexual tension between him and his widowed aunt, used as a plot device to lead the story to its climax. This time, the film is reminiscent of a Bonde-esque rescue where the bad guys kidnap the love interest to lure our protagonist into a ship for their final confrontation. This results into an anti-climactic struggle over a knife and a gun, while the rest of the ship’s crew have no idea of the fight going on below them. Instead of leaving a lasting mark and profound effect on Hannibal, the relationship with his aunt is simply used as a means to an end to keep the plot going.
There are several instances in the film where the same flashbacks of the past keep replaying, again and again, with nothing new to add on the most crucial turning point of Hannibal’s life. Each time it happens, it just looks messy and contrived. Yes, we know that he watched the men kill and eat his sister. Yes, we know that he, too, is a victim of violence. Is it really necessary to show the same montage again and again?
In the end, Hannibal Rising (2007) feels like an unnecessary prequel to one of the most brilliant psychological horror of our time. The renowned Dr. Hannibal Lecter is stripped away of his complexities, turning him into another one of those people who use revenge as an excuse for violence.
With this, Grave Reviews gives Hannibal Rising (2007) two graves out of five graves.
Do you agree with our review? Comment below.
You may also like our review of the film, Hunger.