Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hannibal Rising (2007)

I had heard some disparaging comments about Hannibal Rising prior to viewing it, so I wasn't expecting it to be very good. I was wrong. However, it's a very different kind of Hannibal movie, which could explain some fans' dislike of it. First, it's a prequel that fleshes out Hannibal's past, and his rise to murderous cannibalism, so a younger actor replaces Anthony Hopkins' celebrated portrayal of the charismatic killer. Second, I would categorize this movie as more of a drama than a horror (albeit a horror-themed drama) since the focus of the story seems to rest more on establishing a character's biography than telling a scary tale. This is the same reasoning I used to conclude that Interview With The Vampire is more of a [gothic] drama than a straight horror.

According to this film, Hannibal grew up in war-torn Europe, witnessing the death of his family, and - most significantly - the cannibalization of his little sister by a bunch of starving mercenaries. After several years of enduring this emotional trauma, he decides to strike back against the men who ate his sister, and hitches up with his Asian aunt (by marriage, uncle deceased) living in France. He seems to have a knack for killing, and his intelligence certainly helps him to stay alive and free. But in the process of getting his revenge, Hannibal develops a taste for murder, and devolves into the bloodthirsty monster we know.

I guess a lot of fans have complaints about Hannibal's back story, and whether giving him such a sympathetic past doesn't water down our fear of him. There are plenty of worthwhile complaints to be made against this story, as it relates to the rest of the Hannibal series, but I don't think that changes the fact that, in my opinion, it's a good movie. An effective drama. I do, however, agree with everyone who says that it would be interesting to see the years between the end of this movie, when Hannibal arrives in North America, and the beginning of Red Dragon - the years where he worked as a psychiatrist, leading up to his initial capture by FBI agent Will Graham. Having now seen the entire series of Hannibal films (that currently exist, to my knowledge), that's a story that I think would be a good one to see. Although I do also sympathize with others who feel that Hannibal Lecter's legacy is getting a bit drawn out by now. Either way - it's not my choice to make. I would unhesitatingly recommend The Silence of the Lambs, on account of its classic status; but my personal recommendation is reserved for Manhunter!

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