1944 and the Lecter
family flee their Lithuanian castle as the German's retreat from the Russian
front but they caught up in the battle, with tragic consequences. Left to
fend for themselves, the children Hannibal and Mischa hide in the family's
country lodge but their safety is threatened by local looters, led by Vladis
Grutas (Ifans). Eight years later Hannibal Lector (Ulliel) is still plagued
by nightmares of that time but when he escapes the Russian orphanage he decides
to track down the looters and discover what happened to Mischa.
How did the most famous
fictional serial killer acquire his skills and taste for human flesh are questions
that horror fans have been asking since Thomas Harris first penned 'Red Dragon'
and now we finally have the answers, well some of them.
Thomas Harris's series
of Hannibal Lector novels have set the standard when it comes to serial killer
thrillers but the cannibal's origins have never really been covered. His fourth
novel takes us back to Hannibal's childhood and reveal the reason's why he
became the man he did. The only problem is that it doesn't reveal enough.
Released first as
a novel and then adapted by the author himself for the screen, the film starts
as the Nazi's retreat from the Russian front in 1944 and looters tear their
way through the castles and stately homes of Lithuania. When Castle Lector
is targeted, the family retreat to their lodge in the woods but when they
become caught up in the conflict, tragedy ensues leaving Hannibal and his
young sister Mischa alone. Fending for themselves, they manage to survive
but when looters come to scavenge what is left of the Lector's fortune and
hide from the advancing Russians, they take the children prisoner. As the
winter sets in and the food runs out, the men become desperate for food and
start to look at their child prisoners.
Jump forward eight
years and we discover Hannibal as a young adult, living in a Russian orphanage.
Escaping he heads for Paris to locate his uncle, only to find him dead but
his widow Lady Murasaki Shikib takes him in and pays for his medical education.
The nightmares of that time at the lodge plague him however and he sets hunt
down the men responsible.
is basically a revenge drama that has none of the psychological twists and
turns that drew you to Thomas Harris's novels and their movie adaptations.
The film also tries to make Hannibal Lector a sympathetic lead character but
the problem is that we all know what he becomes. Yes you want him to get revenge
on the men that destroyed his life but you need to understand why he starts
to enjoy it so. Yes he is psychologically scared but his enjoyment is never
really explained and once the revenge is complete we don't discover why he
continues to become monster we know from 'Red Dragon', 'Silence of the Lambs'
Following in the footsteps
of an actor who personified the role was never going to be easy but French
actor Gaspard Ulliel does his best to become a young Anthony Hopkins. The
problem is that he doesn't look at all like the star but more like a young
Crispin Glover (George McFly in Back to the Future). He doesn't really get
to say much either, which is goes against everything that drew you to the
Hannibal Lector character in the first place, as he loves to talk and discover
everything about his victims. The beautiful Gong Li tries her best with a
limited role as Hannibal's aunt Lady Murasaki Shikib. Rhys Ifans is miscast
as the leader of the looters Vladis Grutas. He is a gifted actor but you cannot
really take him seriously as vicious villain and the reason behind Hannibal
vengeance. The rest of the cast have little to do, with only Dominic West's
Inspector Pope with any essence of development.
just feels like a way of getting more longevity and money out of the Hannibal
Lector character. Unfortunately the movie doesn't answer enough of the questions
we have about the characters origins. The main disappoint is the fact that
this movie comes from a critically acclaimed director Peter Webber, who made
such an impact with 'Girl with a Pearl Earring'. While his visual flare is
evident, the story lets the film down and just doesn't grab you at all, leaving
Hannibal Lector without much bite.
Presented in Widescreen
1.85:1 Anamorphic with a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, the transfer is good.
director Peter Webber and producer Martha De Laurentiis
The pair provides an informative and chatty commentary about the fourth film
in the Hannibal Lector franchise. They talk about the differences between
this film and 'Red Dragon', 'Silence of the Lambs' and 'Hannibal' and the
impact novelist Thomas Harris had in writing the screenplay, the first time
he has adapted one of his own books. All aspects of the film are covered,
with the director and producer covering the look of the film and the importance
of casting. This is a good commentary that fans of the film should enjoy.
Entitled 'Boiling the Photo Album', 'Hannibal gets off the truck', 'Prison
Sequence (extended)', 'Hannibal at the lock keeper' and 'Lady M and a photo
of Hannibal', these deleted or extended scenes are accompanied by a commentary
track by director David Webber.
The Origin of Evil (16.08 mins)
Director David Webber, producer Martha De Laurentiis, production designer
Allan Starski, stunt coordinator Lee Steward and stars Gaspard Ulliel and
Rhys Ifans take you behind the scenes of the production of 'Hannibal Rising'.
From the Thomas Harris screenplay, through casting, the director and the stunts
and murders, the slightly short featurette covers most things that you would
want to know about the production of the movie.
Designing Horror and Elegance (7.29 mins)
The production designer for 'Hannibal Rising' talks about the look and style
of the fourth movie in the franchise. He talks about his and the directors
visual style and the approach they both took to creating the period in which
the movie and book where set.
View the previews that were shown at cinemas and on the Internet
Previews of '1408', 'Nomad' and 'Black Christmas'
The DVD treatment
for 'Hannibal Rising' should please fans of the cannibal franchise. The commentary
track is very good and the featurettes cover most aspects of the film's production.
One to sink your teeth into.
Silence of the Lambs
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