With Hannibal Rising, Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter completes the journey from inconceivably savage serial murderer to morally righteous avenger. It was obvious from The Silence of the Lambs that novelist Thomas Harris was beginning to like Lecter a little too much. But that was the gorgeous perversity of the thing—that Clarisse, his Luke Skywalker, was learning more from Darth Vader than from Obi-Wan Kenobi. But by the time of Hannibal, Lecter was killing only the “rude”—the hypocrites, pedophiles, and scum. And now, in Hannibal Rising, the youngish Lecter kills the Nazi collaborators who also ate his little sister, and we’re meant to relish every triumphant skewering, decapitation, and mutilation. Gaspard Ulliel has a good skinny ghoulish face—he’s lit like the Joker in the less kid-friendly Batman comics. But Hannibal Rising is basically a Steven Seagal vigilante movie with a hero who eats the people he kills. At least it’s ecofriendly.
Hannibal Rising is the fifth movie featuring the wily, flesh-eating Hannibal Lecter, but the first with a screenplay by Thomas Harris, reclusive author of the Hannibal series. A former AP reporter, Harris introduced Hannibal in Red Dragon, but it was screenwriter Ted Tally who adapted that book and The Silence of the Lambs. In an effort to control his own work, Harris simultaneously conceived Hannibal Rising as both screenplay and novel—perhaps why the New York Times likened the latter to “a deluxe collection of deleted scenes on a special-edition DVD.”
Directed by Peter Webber. MGM. R.