Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hannibal Rising

You all know the story of Hannibal Lecter, right? Of course you do. Which true movie lover doesn't know Hannibal Lecter? I mean, he has appeared in 5 movies now.
"5?" You're wondering...?
Yep, five.
The one I'm going to discuss at length here is Hannibal's latest, and what appears to be last, big screen outing.
Hannibal Rising.
Or, as it was known in the US, Young Hannibal: Behind The Mask.
As to way it was titled this way, please take a look at the movie poster...

You have to give a hand to the promotional team behind this movie. They took an iconic image, which was Anthony Hopkins with the mussle over his mouth, and turned it into a mask for his younger self, played by Gaspard Ulliel.

Gaspard is a relatively famous French actor known to Aussie cult movie fans as Louis in the historical/action/horror film Le Pacte Des Loups (Brotherhood Of The Wolf).

Brotherhood Of The Wolf is quite simply an amazing film. I'll have to do a review of it one day, but and until then I highly recommend you track it down.

But I digress. Gaspard plays the title character here, and for the most part he does a good job.

He keeps things moving, and throughout the movie you can sympathsise with Hannibal.

Even if he does look like a wine-sipping, hair-gelling weirdo. :)

Actually, early in his life Hannibal's family was murdered and his castle overthrown. For years afterward Hannibal and his younger sister, Mischa (Helena-Lia Tachovska) fend for themselves in the woods.

It must've been there where Hannibal learnt his skills with a rope.

I won't go into too much detail about what happens to Mischa, as that would just spoil the film.

However eventually Hannibal tracks down Lady Mutasaki (Gong Li), who happened to be the mistress of Hannibal's father.
Lady Mutasaki takes Hannibal in and sends him back to school where he excels, especially in anatomy and biology.
This certainly helps Hannibal later in the movie, and later in life as he goes on to earn his PhD.

Now what movie wouldn't be great without a great villain? Here we have Vladis Grutas (Rhys Ifans). When I read that Rhys Ifans was in this film I just knew I had to see it.
Unfortunately he's not as great as I thought he would be. He was certainly great in the novel. Maybe my expections of him were way too high though?

Then again, maybe it was the script. It could've done with some work. This fellow obviously wasn't too happy with the dialogue....

I should mention that the fantastic actor Dominic West stars as Inspector Popil. Such an unfortunate name.... Sounds like the Inspector has been sitting on cold concrete for too long.
Dominic West had previously been in 300, and would go on to appear in the great TV series, The Wire. He was also in Punisher War Zone, and Spice World (The Spice Girls movie) so make of that what you will.

Hannibal Rising was pretty much canned by critics and movie goers alike, however I feel there were some elements which made it a passable film. Certainly if you're a Hannibal Lecter nut then you need to track this down.
Also whilst you're at it, give the book a read. It's pretty good, and like most novels expands greatly where the movie cannot and does not.

One case in point is a scene in the book where Hannibal and Lady Murasaki get nekkid. Now why wasn't this scene in the movie? I remember sitting in the cinema and when I realised this scene was not going to be in it, I felt particularly ripped off.

I mean, movie tickets cost enough as it is. At least give me something!

I have read into the production of this movie and an interesting point I feel I should note is the studio involved were more eager to get this movie out onto the big screen than novelist Thomas Harris was.

Word is the studio paid Harris to write the novel, which would then become the basis for the movie. Admittedly the novel is slapped together somewhat ad-hoc, however it is certainly very good.

There's just a feeling though that both the novel and the movie "phone-it-in."

As much as both expand on the story of Hannibal Lecter, I felt that there could've been more to both of them.

As is the case with most movies these days the studio were wanting this to be a hit like previous Lecter movies, with a view to releasing sequels.
However the movie didn't make a lot of money and all subsequent sequel plans were scrapped.
Too bad too as I would've supported any further movies made.

And yes, now that I think about it I should mention, Hannibal Rising is a prequel to all previous movies. Therefore if there had've been another movie made after this one it would have been known as a sequel prequel.
Or is that prequel sequel?

Here is the movie trailer;

Click here to purchase the DVD
Hannibal Rising (Unrated Widescreen Edition)

Click here to purchase the soundtrack
Hannibal Rising [Cd] (Library Edition)

Click here to purchase the novel by Thomas Harris
Hannibal Rising

Okay, in closing I give this movie a 6 out of 10. It's a good way to pass the evening if you're a crime buff, Hannibal buff, or if you just want to see Gong Li and Rhys Ifans in a movie.

What did you think of this review? Please comment, or email me directly at


  1. This movie is actually my favorite of all time. I love Ulliel and Ifans, they are in my top five actors, actually. To be honest ... being a big hannibal fan and having read all the books and watched all the books, this film was great and the one I have watched the most. Closely followed by Red Dragon.

  2. I love Rhys too!

    his most creepy line in this flick is

    we eat...or die.

    and they realize that they dont have to be
    hungry anymore if they eat the kids.

    brrrrrrrrrr, chilling.