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Hannibal Rising

A movie directed by Peter Webber

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Suprisngly Better Than Expected.

  • Feb 9, 2007
Pros: Good premise.

Cons: No Sir Anthony Hopkins, ending is very Hollwood.

The Bottom Line: While it is not Silence, there is enough here to garner a look for fans.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

After three books and films featuring the enigmatic and deadly Hannibal Lecter, author Thomas Harris has decided to lift the lid on the murky past of perhaps the most known killer in fiction.

In “Hannibal Rising”, Harris has crafted a screenplay that stays close to his 2006 book of the same name, and presents Hannibal as a sympathetic character driven to his fate due to circumstances beyond what any reasonable person should have to endure.

The film opens with young Hannibal in 1944 as the Lecter family flees their family castle from the advancing Nazi forces. When a series of bizarre circumstances leave Hannibal and his younger sister alone, they are easy victims to a band of scavengers who come upon them.

After a series of horrific situations, the film flashes forward 8 years where Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel), is now a ward of the Soviet State, and as a further insult, his former family castle is now the orphanage in which he lives.

Hannibal draws the wrath of the local bully as he refuses to sing the required nationalist songs, and generally only makes noise when he is screaming in his sleep due to his nightmares about his sister.

Despite his withdrawn nature, Hannibal is not against striking back at his tormentor and does so before fleeing the orphanage to France where he makes his way to the home of his Uncle.

Upon arrival, Hannibal learns that his Uncle has passed away, but is taken in and cared for by his Aunt (Gong Li). As time passes, the two form a bond, and Hannibal learns about martial arts from his Aunt as well as more about her Japanese heritage.

Despite the positive changes in his life, Hannibal is still haunted by his sister and is obsessed about finding the men who held them captive and exacting revenge.

Towards this end, Hannibal snaps and exacts a violent revenge upon a local merchant who disparages his aunt, which makes Hannibal known to the local police, especially Inspector Popil (Dominic West), who investigate suspected war criminals.

When a chance lead surfaces, Hannibal returns to his homeland and confronts one of his childhood captors. As he exacts his revenge, he also learns information about the locales of the others he seeks, and soon sets out of a series of revenge killings, all the while attempting to stay ahead of Inspector Popil and the authorities.

The film for the most part works, as it is engaging and does move at a solid pace during its nearly two-hour run time. Ulliel does a good job of capturing the manic and sophisticated duality of Lecter but does not have the eerie presence of Sir Anthony Hopkins who made Lecter into a household name and took home and Oscar for his portrayal.

To expect Ulliel to equal the performance of Hopkins would be unfair in my opinion, so suffice it to say, he carries the film well, and does as much justice to the part as could be expected.

The last part of the film does become a bit to pat for my taste as it seems as if the filmmakers did not have enough confidence with the pacing of the film to allow it to unfold the way the previous 90 minutes had. Instead we get some by the number action sequences and a final confrontation that seems lifted from dozens of other films.

While the finale may lack the tension that the film had been building towards, there are enough moments in the film to make it worth seeing if you are a fan of the series.
3.5 stars out of 5.


Video Occasion: Good for a Rainy Day
Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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More Hannibal Rising reviews
review by . August 16, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
HANNIBAL RISING may not be in the same league with its predecessors, especially SILENCE OF THE LAMBS, but it was written by the same author - both the novel and the screenplay - and so we must accept that the arc of the story of the murderous cannibal is intact. Where this version of how the child Hannibal became the crazed and bizarre man due to his witnessing the loss of his young sister to the appetites of hungry soldiers is less successful than the studies of the grown man is the lack of including …
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Gareth Von Kallenbach ()
Ranked #111
I am a syndicated movie & game critic, writer, author and frequent radio guest. My work has appeared in over 60 publications worldwide and he is the creator of the rising entertainment site "Skewed … more
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ThoughHannibal Rising'sLecter (Gaspard Ulliel) is a pussycat compared to Anthony Hopkins inSilence of the Lambs, this sequel's story of revenge is grizzly enough to satisfy lovers of Thomas Harris's epic tale. After young Hannibal (Aaron Thomas) is forced to watch his little sister, Mischa (Helena Lia Tachovska), devoured by starving soldiers in his homeland Lithuania, Hannibal vows to avenge his sister's death by slaying those who committed not only war crimes against the Lecters, but also against other families during WW II. In detailing Hannibal's revenge plan, the film investigates the psychological implications of witnessing cannibalism to justify Hannibal's insatiable appetite for human flesh. The most interesting aspect ofHannibal Rising—its analytical connections drawn between Hannibal's childhood traumas and his murderous adult obsessions—is also the film's weak point. The links oversimplify Lecter's complex character. For example, though titillating to see flashbacks of Lecter's sister hacked up and boiled while Lecter visits a Parisian meat market, the reference is too obvious. One learns why he excels in his medical school classes dissecting cadavers, and we're given explicit explanation for why he slices off and eats his victims' cheeks. The story only complicates when Hannibal interacts with his sexy Aunt, Lady Murasaki (Gong Li). When Murasaki educates him in the art of beheading, the viewer sees ...
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Director: Peter Webber
Genre: Horror
Release Date: 2007
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Thomas Harris
DVD Release Date: May 29, 2007
Runtime: 1hr 57min
Studio: Weinstein Company
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