Hannibal Rising

hannibal_rising.jpg picture by barbedheart
UK/Czech Republic/France/Italy. Drama/Horror/Thriller. 97 minutes. Directed by Peter Webber. Starring Gaspard Ulliel, Li Gong, Rhys Ifans, Helena-Lia Tachovská, Richard Leaf, Dominic West, Michele Wade, Richard Brake, Martin Hub, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Kevin McKidd, Joerg Stadler, Stephen Walters, Ivan Marevich, Charles Maquignon, Aaran Thomas.

21 November 2008

Wow.
I mean, really, I’m speechless.
Not that there weren’t a lot of initial problems I knew I would have withHannibal Rising, I mean they had already taken Hannibal Lecter and made him into a Freddy Kruegerish cartoon in Hannibal (2001). That movie was mediocre, in that it was a stylish exercise without any real substance. And Red Dragon (2003) was mediocre in that it was a pointless remake of Manhunter (1986) where neither Edward Norton nor Anthony Hopkins showed off any passion.
But Hannibal Rising, my God. It’s bad. By golly, it’s bad.

The plot involves a young Hannibal Lecter. We learn early on that his parents died and his little sister was murdered during disgusting circumstances while he was there to watch, by senseless nazis in Lithuania in WWII. His family lives in a castle. I don’t know why. In Lithuania by the way, that is aka. random East European place less known as a hell-hole than the USSR (I have actually been there, and I know one or two things about the Baltic states. Trust me, people aren’t speaking English to each other, but hey, OK, I’ll roll with it). Eight years on, he lives at an orphanage, where he kills some random guys and take a run for it, he somehow gets to France – The Berlin Wall? You tell me – and in Paris I think it was, he somehow gets an education – don’t ask me how – and he also meets his aunt – a beautiful Japanese woman! She has some dark stuff in her soul, apparently she survived Hiroshima (?) and while smooching she teach him some mumbo jumbo Kedo ninja stuff…. though she’s a woman, and naturally, in the 40’s and 50’s that would have been impossible for a woman…. but…. I don’t know… I guess I just…. have to….

No. Enough ”going with it”, Hannibal Rising asks too much from anybody. Not only is the movie jam-packed with insanely big plot holes and a lack of ground knowledge about how the world even works (we have a villain who supposedly ”got away” from the Nuremberg Trials when a ”witness [killed herself]”. I guess Göring was too much of a softy to come up with that idea!) the screenplay is filled with insanely bad dialog. I mean, I’m sure Edward D. Wood Jr must be behind this one, basically every single line stinks sewer rat, but what do you know, the movie is supposedly written by Thomas Harris himself.
The only logical reason I can come up with is that it’s basically not true. Either he was drunk, took a laugh and cashed in with the producers – or the producers eagerly wanted this franchise name so much that they killed Harris and replaced him with a Thomas Harris Robot who has now taken his identity.

Furthermore, Gaspard Ulliel (from A Very Long Engagement) is embarrassing to watch – he has two things going on: One is No Dialog-mode, where he has this ridicilous gaze, an open mouth and a contrived psycho-smile and an extremely annoying way of turning his head to his left all the time. Then there’s Dialog-mode, where he does this dare I say disgustingly bad Anthony Hopkins-imitation? Yes, he is that bad. Gong Li, ”the japanese chick”, is also totally malplaced.

The biggest problem with the movie though is the schizo style of the plot. With Girl With A Pearl Necklace-director Peter Webber behind the camera, this poses as a drama. But it must have been impossible for him to find a tone for this movie – Hannibal is obviously in love with the Japanese, yet he is also supposed to be an ice cold ”monster” (it is quoted many times that he has no feelings left in him and he even passes without any signals on a lie detector test… don’t know if that’s how those things work, probably not but anyway, that’s the idea) so we are to sympathise with him – this is after alll a standard Hollywood tale, albeit not produced in the US – but at the same time he’s this guy who likes his liver with a chianti yada…. And halfway through the movie we are re-introduced to a Bad Guy. Yes we have a Bad Guy, in a movie where Hannibal Lecter has the leading role… does that make him the ”hero”? Well, you see my point. The Bad Guy is played by Rhys Ifans disguised as Liam Gallagher, and he’s this real Bond villain, turning the whole movie into a thriller, with hostages and loved one’s who needs to be saved.

Enough with it. I can’t talk about it anymore. This is how bad the movie is! Ususally, I can go on and on about any movie, no matter how bad or mediocre! But Hannibal Rising may look like a fairly high-class movie (and maybe that’s why a disturbing amount of people still think it’s good or even as good as mediocre) but if you actually think away the standard imagery of this movie, you get an Ed Wood movie that doesn’t give a shit about anything, as long as it will get people to pay for another Hannibal cash-in.
2/10

Footnote:
Remind me to write some kind of essay on this movie. I can’t think of a more accurate way of explaining how a movie should NOT be made.