Reviewing Hannibal Rising

Why oh why did someone have to go and ruin everything by making this movie?

Hannibal Rising is as the title suggests, about the young Hannibal Lecter years and years before he became the psychopath portrayed by the extraordinary Sir Anthony Hopkins (neglecting Brian Cox in Manhunter). I never read Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Rising which is still fairly recent but if I had to guess I’d say the story was much better in book form. Simply because to read about Lecter and to watch him depicted is a whole other matter.

In my opinion both book and film should have never been made. I understand the lure behind wanting to know the origins of the greatest film villain of all time (yes, even greater than Vader), but leaving his past unknown and obscure made him a myth, a riddle, something that added to the fear factor. To explain a monster is to make the audience exposed to the mechanism that makes him tick and that just takes the mystery, and thus the fear, right out of it.

What’s more is that his origins are too simple: scared by Nazis in World War 2 who invaded his home in the dead of winter only to discover the boy Lecter and his little sister who they end up feasting on for fear of starvation.

And so, as the movie’s tag line suggests: it starts with revenge.

The boy actor wasn’t very impressive but I can’t really blame him. It is just too difficult to depict the younger version of a character that is engraved in our nightmares. Hannibal is Hopkins. From his unblinking eyes to his carefully chosen parsed words and swift movements. Not to mention the diabolical thinking of a man that leaves the audience wondering if he should be labeled a monster, madman, genius or all of the above. In Hannibal Rising we have a young Hannibal who speaks very rarely, mute (by choice I believe) since his sister became someone’s dinner.

But the worst part was removing Hannibal’s genius from the character. The boy is smart but not scheming like the older, aged and experienced version of himself. And that takes even more away from the myth of Hannibal. The character who makes you listen to every word he says as if it were a riddle. The character who makes you look into his eyes to try and see the plans unfolding behind them.

I’m not even going to give this movie the usual ‘bottom line’ review. It wasn’t Charlie’s Angels 2 bad, it’s just a movie that should be avoided at all costs IF you are a fan of Hannibal and want to preserve the image you have of him unbroken.

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