BOTTOM LINE: Despite some great cinematography, an effective atmosphere, and a decent attempt by the lead actor to mimic Anthony Hopkins’ original performance as Hannibal, this is a completely pointless sequel with no shocks or surprises, that unnecessarily demystifies the character of Hannibal Lecter and in the process makes him less scary.
THE GOOD: Hannibal Lecter, as he first appeared in “The Silence of the Lambs” is arguably one of the best, if not the best, movie villain of all time. We’ve had a few sequels since then and “Hannibal Rising” is number 4, the first without Anthony Hopkins in the lead. With Hollywood’s obsession with prequels (thanks George Lucas), this film unsurprisingly takes us back to the beginning of Hannibal’s life and shows us the events that made him in to such an evil serial killer. The performance of Gaspard Ulliel is quite effective, and you can tell that he must studied the first three films over and over again because he’s got that clever, able-to-outwit-anyone charm that Hopkins delivered so well. He also looks quite scary in the scenes he needs to be in. The film is beautifully shot; the bulk of the film takes place in post-war Europe and the footage we see is very well staged and mounted. Many of the shots, along with the disturbing musical score create a moody, chilling atmosphere that is enjoyable to watch. Gong Li also adds much to proceedings as Hannibal’s Aunt who unwittingly helps him do his bad deeds.
THE BAD: I said pointless right? Yep, this film is completely pointless and unnecessary to the point of actually doing harm to the original character. Why? Hannibal Lecter is a character that shouldn’t have to be explained. It’s far scarier if we don’t know how he became what he was. The thought that he ‘just is’ makes for a far scarier character. In this film, we get a revenge plot where young Hannibal goes after those who ate his little sister and it makes him deeply sympathetic which is just plain wrong. But even if we were to go along with this, it’s still not well built. The story is told in such a way that we just have to accept that Hannibal became what he was based on that one incident.
We go from him being a cute kid to psychopathic teenager serial killer in a matter of moments. Since we know Hannibal survives to go on to become who he is, there are no surprises or shocks as we know he’ll survive (and the way the story is mounted, he is in peril at times but we know he’s not). I also mentioned how good Gaspard Ulliel’s acting was; unfortunately his appearance doesn’t match. His face is long and thin yet Hopkins is round and wide. Can a person’s face change like that? Overall, this film detracts from the original character of Hannibal Lecter and despite having some good points, it’s just a flat out waste of time and shouldn’t have been made.
For the original review, follow this link: http://www.allaboutmovies.net/filmreviewhannibalrising.htm
Todd Murphy is a staff reviewer at the film/DVD review web site, All About Movies.net – for all the latest reviews on the newest releases. He also contributes reviews and articles for the Digicosm Film Blog: http://www.filmannex.com/Digicosm