Sunday, February 11, 2007

Hannibal Rising

review by Michael Jaffe

HANNIBAL RISING is one of the most confusing and terribly written movies that I have seen in a while. The movie tries to be a quality film and looks beautiful. Director Peter Webber, director of the fabulous GIRL WITH THE PEARL EARING is completely stuck with a miserable script. Everything about the movie seems good, the acting, the setting, the plot, but the writing is so dreadful that numerous times laughter rang through the theatre because it was like watching a Roger Corman production. I have read the book and I noticed how bad the writing of the book was, and then I saw that Thomas Harris wrote both witch would explain just how flat out dreadful the dialogue is.

The plot is that young Hannibal’s family dies on the eastern front of WWII and then some bad men come and eat his sister. Hannibal then is magically 16 and a complete killing maching. He then goes to live with his Japanese aunt in France where she trains him to become a samurai. He then becomes a medical student and seeks revenge on the men who ate his sister 8 years earlier. Luckily, 3 of the men live in France right by Hannibal so he can swing over on weekends and kill them. If this story seems ridiculous, that is because it is. There are plot twists that I won’t reveal that simply made me want to leave the theatre.

The reason I stayed however was the acting. A beautifully shot film that makes Gaspard Ulliel’s performance as the young Dr. Lecter look that much better. It might not have been on par with Anthony Hopkins, but I won’t deny that I was very afraid of his Joker like grin and long nose. He would certainly look good as Joker in the next BATMAN movie. Mr. Ulliel is very good as are Rhys Ifans as a bad guy and THE WIRE’s Dominic West as a concerned policeman. Gong Li does not particularly act well in HR, but she sure looks great as Hannibal’s Japanese aunt who teaches him the way of the samurai.

The movie is a mess and is completely unnecessary for the series. The only good that might come out of it are that Mr. Ulliel might get more work in mainstream cinema. 4/10

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