128 of 136 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2010
At first I watched this movie and thought that it does not fully explain why Hannibal Lecter became Hannibal Lecter. I read all the books as well and never got it until the other night I watched Silence of the Lambs again, and it hit me. The stories between Lecter and Starling are similar, yet they chose opposite ends of the path. Here are their similarities:
When they were both young they each became orphaned.
When they were orphaned they each had a charge to take care of, Starling trying to save the lamb, Lecter and his sister. Which incidentaly, were both eaten.
This fractured Lecter while it steeled Starling and this is where they separate. Starling is what Lecter could have been and he loves her for it.
So when I came to this realization, this movie made more sense to me and now I like it.
I'm still wanting to see Hannibal at his prime, between his begining and then right before his capture. The murders that made him infamous, I hope Thomas Harris writes that.
45 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2007
Surprisingly, I actually liked this movie. Don't get me wrong it's not something I care to see over and over again, but I think it set the basis for Hannibal Lector fairly. Sometimes, it does kinda get on my nerves that they'll make a movie with 30 different sequels, and then try to take you back to the beginning and show you how it all started. With that being said, some of them are really good, and this is one. I think people are unfairly comparing Gaspard Ulliel to Anthony Hopkins when really there should be no comparison. Gaspard is playing a much younger Hannibal who hasn't grown in age yet, and it's his job to set the stage for the story we all know and love. Which he did do it justice, I might add. I guess since he's an unknown face to the American audience, and he's just now being introduced into a movie portraying a character of this magnitude the comparions were envitable. At any rate, Anthony Hopkin's portrayal of Hannibal actually takes place many years later when he's much older which should be taken into account. What I like about this movie is that even though cannabalism is a morbid, nasty, and extremely disgusting thought for a sane person. I'm glad to say that's really not the way they portrayed it in this movie. It wasn't done deliberately with the intention of making the audience puke by showing us Hannibal actually eating somebody's flesh, eyeballs, or brains out of their head while they're still alive. It also wasn't way over the top with the blood and gore for no reason like most films these days. I guess that's why a lot of people complain that it's boring, because they didn't get to see somebody's guts or intestines exposed. This movie shows you how Hannibal became the psychological, cannabalistic, monster that he is today. They show you that he's a regular human being that was driven to cannabalism through hurt and the need for revenge after his little sister was eaten by a bunch of savages. I feel a little guilty, but I actually found myself rooting for Hannibal to get his revenge which disturbed me a little bit. Needless to say, I liked it, and I think that the "Silence of the Lambs" as well as the "Manhunter" and "Red Dragon" fans owe it to themselves to see this movie. At least, if their interested in how Hannibal became the cannibal.
55 of 63 people found the following review helpful
on February 10, 2007
"Hannibal Rising" is one of the darkest, most heavy-handed films I've ever seen. Yet I absolutely loved it. Even I don't understand why: the circumstances of the plot are ugly, focusing on the deepest, most disturbed recesses of the mind; a majority of the characters are malicious, having little if any regard for humanity; the visuals are more than a little difficult to watch, with disturbing scenes of torture and murder. Such unpleasant material doesn't easily make for an engrossing experience. Nonetheless, I found myself utterly fascinated, unable to avert my eyes from the screen. This is an engaging, shocking, beautifully photographed story of how the quest for vengeance can turn a hurt soul into a monster.
Such a person is Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic criminal mastermind made famous by Anthony Hopkins in 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs." This new film chronicles Lecter's early descent into madness, beginning in 1944 with the deaths of his mother, father, and sister in war torn Lithuania (he was only a child then, no more than eight). While his parents were merely shot to death, his baby sister, Mischa (Helena Lia Tachovska), was targeted by a group of German soldiers using the Lecter family lodge as a hideout. Because of the lodge's remoteness, and because it's the dead of winter, the soldiers quickly discover that food is scarce. "If we want to live," says Vladis Grutas (Rhys Ifans) as he savagely eats a puny rabbit, "we must eat!" That's when they all look over at the children, specifically at Mischa.
The story then flashes forward eight years. Lecter is now a teenager (Gespard Ulliel), living in an orphanage that was once his family's castle. How tragic: what was once his home is now strictly controlled housing for hundreds of young men. As one might expect, he's not exactly popular among the other boys, especially since he remains silent during the day and screams every night as he dreams of his sister's death. There's some clever manipulation at work here; his painful childhood almost forces us to feel sympathy for the young Hannibal Lecter, even though we know he will eventually become a murderous lunatic. Is he truly insane, like the previous films would lead you to believe, or is he the unfortunate result of humanity's cruelty?
No one can definitely answer those questions. All one can do is witness Lecter spiraling out of control, sinking further and further into the depths of hate. At some point, he promises his sister that he will find her murderers and make them pay. Such is the way with revenge: it clouds judgment, reason, and morality, and it leaves a void that cannot be filled, no matter what. Lecter fell victim to such a void as a child, which serves as his driving force for the rest of the film. He devises a plan to escape the orphanage. He then leaves for France and meets his Japanese aunt, Lady Murasaki Shikibu (Gong Li). They immediately bond despite his initial reluctance to speak. The bond is made stronger as he watches her pray to her ancestors; she bows in front of her father's samurai armor, seeking strength and courage.
We know Lecter is seeking the same thing, especially since an emotional eruption is fast approaching. It finally arrives when he brutally murders a butcher using Murasaki's samurai sword. The butcher was intentionally crafted to be a despicable man; not only did he debase Murasaki, he had also aided the German's in transporting and exterminating Jews during the war. I can't say I felt sorry for him, which I suppose was the intended effect. The scene also establishes Lecter as a cold, calculating psychopath, a personality that's rarely indicative of a sympathetic character. But keep in mind that his family was needlessly murdered; who wouldn't be emotionally scarred by such a dark turn of events? I continuously questioned how I was supposed to feel about this character, even after he enrolls in a prestigious medical school in Paris. His main task, interestingly enough, is preparing cadavers for examination and experimentation.
The story's morbidity increases dramatically as Lecter tracks down the German soldiers responsible for his sister's death. Unfortunately, executing his plan will not be as easy as he thought; hot on his trail is Inspector Popil (Dominic West), in charge of capturing and incarcerating war criminals. To some extent, he understands Lecter's pain. This is because he, too, lost family during the war. However, he's also a man of the law, and he refuses to let Lecter's vendetta against a group of soldiers slip through the cracks. The situation is also hard on Murasaki; her family was killed when Hiroshima was bombed. She finds herself torn between loving her nephew and desiring for inner peace.
But for Lecter, absolutely everything is clear-cut; all he has left is the need for revenge, something that can never be alleviated even after the wrongdoers are caught. Having his way with the German soldiers makes for some uncomfortable moments, especially since they involve methods of torture that are best left unmentioned. I suppose you can understand why some will be turned off by this movie; as I've already said, it's a dark, dark story of cruelty, obsession, and pain. Writing this review still hasn't helped me to understand why I enjoyed "Hannibal Rising" so much. Maybe it's because I have a deeper understanding of a previously unknown character. True, Hannibal Lecter would go on to do terrible things. Still, I no longer view him as a loathsome monster. I now view him as a pitiable monster, made evil because of a deplorable environment.
81 of 102 people found the following review helpful
on February 14, 2007
Well I must admit I was going in to this movie with little expectations. I'm a big fan of the other 3, 4 if you want to add Manhunter in there. My first concern was someone other than Anthony Hopkins playing Hannibal will be a letdown. Gaspard Ulliel is not Hopkins but he won me over. He did a very respectable job. I'd never heard of him before and am now very impressed. Gong Li was very good as well. Overall the acting was better than expected.
I won't go into the plot since I trust everyone knows it by now. Going back to see how Hannibal got his start was very interesting. I'm a horror film fan and love blood and gore but to this movies credit it did not need the blood and gore. By my standards it was moderately gruesome, but I was so intrigued by the story I wasn't dissapointed at all. The movie was beautifully filmed.
Here's how I would rate all the movies so you can gage by my ratings how you might like Hannibal Rising. I rate my movies personally on a scale of 0 to 10.
Silence of the Lambs 10
Red Dragon 7
Hannibal Rising 9
I was truly thrilled with this movie and look forward to more, hopefully with Gaspard Ulliel.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Since this one bombed so badly at the box office I didn't have much hope for it. After watching it though, it is not that bad. It is certainly no Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon, but it was interesting. The movie is very dark. Most of the characters have very dark sides. Though I do have to say that everyone has a reason for their actions which makes it more realistic. Hopkins is sorely missed, but even the best makeup can't make him 40 years younger to play himself in his early 20's. The young actor playing young Hannibal is solid and certainly creepy, he also came across a bit flat. The story is interesting on how Hannibal became the monster he is. I think the aunt part is not really necessary and muddles things somewhat. Overall I think this is worth watching if you are a fan of Hannibal, but on its' own it is merely so so.
15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 12, 2007
I haven't read the book, but from the looks of the customer reviews here at Amazon, not to mention those from the mainstream media, I'm better off for it. However, as a film, "Hannibal Rising," while not "Silence of the Lambs," is a pretty decent suspense film - as good as we could expect as a follow-up to the good, but nothing-special "Red Dragon" (great performances, but a better, less typical ending and jettisoning other standard-issue thriller plot devices and clichés would have helped a ton) and better than we have any right to expect after the ludicrous "Hannibal" (a movie more laughable every time I come across it). The problem with piling on sequels and prequels to movies about serial killers is the risk of turning a once original, brilliant, and terrifying subject into just another boogeyman, ala Jason and Freddy. What worked as essentially a key supporting performance in "Manhunter" and "Lambs" has now become a franchise monster and it is hard to separate the genius of Anthony Hopkins' brilliant psychopath from any number of diabolical serial killers (it is a testament to the characters greatness - and, of course, Hopkins awesome performance - that, in spite of this, whenever I watch "Silence," the character is still as chillingly effective as he was the first time I saw it).
"Hannibal Rising" doesn't exactly reverse the trend, nor does it rival anything in "Lambs," but what could have been an embarrassing and obvious attempt simply to cash-in on, and wring every last drop out of, a famous character, is actually, if nothing else, a decent thriller that, if it were not part of such a revered series, would probably be considered pretty darn good on its own. As it is, the story of Hannibal's transformation from a boy in WWII-ravaged Germany, who sees his parents murdered and his sister eaten by mercenaries, to a diabolical killer, hell bent on gruesome revenge leave something to be desired. Hannibal's transformation happens pretty much the way I expected after hearing about the plot, and after that the movie is pretty much just a string of murders. The only real thrill lies in seeing what diabolically brilliant idea young Hannibal has cooked up as a means for each individuals end. These ideas become more far-fetched as they go along.
Still, "Hannibal Rising" looks great and Gaspard Ulliel, with his evil perma-smirk and crazy eyes channels Hopkins well without embarrassing himself the way another actor might have been unable to avoid doing. What Hopkins did with this character was no small feat. He walked a fine line between portraying an evil genius and falling into camp hamminess. Ulliel is no Hopkins, but then again, this character is no Hannibal - yet. There is none of the long-winded monologues about fava beans and quid pro quo. In, fact this Hannibal barely speaks. Still, Ulliel, for the most part, seems to understand how to walk the same fine line Hopkins did and, thankfully, as a result, this film, while never truly terrifying, does not lapse into comedy, slasher-shtick, or even something that seems like a cheap cash-in ala "Hannibal."
"Hannibal Rising" could have been shorter and without sounding morbid, I almost wish young Hannibal suffered a little more before turning into the monster we know. Not that what happened to him and what he witnessed isn't enough to make anyone understandably crazy, but the film feels a bit like it's holding back and therefore it's less effective in allowing the audience to truly get into Hannibal's twisted head. Many, many people suffered horrible fates during WWII. They didn't all turn into Hannibal. And, in all fairness, the people he takes revenge upon had nothing to do with his parents' death. Hannibal is mainly on a quest to avenge his sister, but we all know from "Lambs," etc that Hannibal continued to evolve into a serial killer long after he took revenge upon his sister's killers. So what gives? I guess we are supposed to just assume he developed a taste (no pun intended) for murder and cannibalism, but this film tries to justify his madness as a quest for revenge. Fine, but then we are not really learning about Hannibal the brilliant doctor/serial killer. We are seeing a movie that is the same as "Death Wish," "The Punisher," "Kill Bill" and any number of revenge sagas. I was hoping for a film that showed the Lechter discussed so much in the previous films. I guess that story would be the second chapter in this legacy. Maybe there is room for at least one more film in this series after all, eh?
Not that I'd advise it.
Hannibal is already dangerously close to Freddy and Jason territory. A shame considering he started out as the very antithesis of that brand of psycho killer. But at this rate, another sequel and we might find him wearing a hokey mask and running around with a chainsaw. Still, in a world of endless junk like the umpteenth remake of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and standard issue teen horror flicks like "The Grudge" that somehow pass for scary movies these days, I'll take a thriller like "Hannibal Rising" any day.
At least it is ambitious, even if never quite rivals the early Hannibal films. And that's more than you can say for most films of this type.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on February 13, 2007
I admit, as a horror fan, I went into Hannibal Rising expecting a good, sleazy picture and not a quality Hannibal Lecter film. Well, there is plenty of sleaze to be sure, but the picture is so professionally done that it's hard to ignore Hannibal Rising as decent entertainment.
Set against the backdrop of World War II, the beginning of Hannibal Rising details the traumatizing childhood of Hannibal and his unfortunate sister. From then on, Hannibal slowly becomes more and more deadly as he desires cannibalistic revenge against the ones who ate his sister.
This film lacks suspense and shows too many flashbacks and changes of place that at times disjoint the film. But it's fun watching Gaspard Ulliel try his best to be Hannibal. He's evil, but the ones he's hunting here are even more evil than he and for once it's a lot of fun to side with the "bad guy" in a movie. Too many things seem underdeveloped (I'm interested in reading Thomas Harris's novel), but the film is beautifully shot, has great music, and features a few cool kill scenes. The acting is pretty good too. Rhys Ifans, a guy I never saw making a decent villain, portrays a guy who's one of the most deadly and vicious on-screen villains I've seen of late and he deserves a lot of credit. Gong Li looks gorgeous here, but she has to recite cheesy lines and isn't given much to do. And Ulliel plays Lecter over the top, but then again, so did Hopkins and he's great when he's going insane.
It's hard to call Hannibal Rising a great movie, but it is pretty cool. I'd recommend seeing it in theaters at a discounted price, especially for horror fans looking for a decent gore film.
20 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2007
I just went and saw this movie. This movie is awesome. It really portrays the events that gave him the fuel he needed to become what he is. The acting was very well done. The best part is that they didn't ruin the movie with special effects. To many horror movies these days depend on the use of blood to provide the effect they are hoping to accomplish with the audience. This is not the case in Hannibal Rising. They shot it old school which is what was called for since it took place long ago. The story is what really makes this movie. If you love this series you must rush and see this now. Like I said its basically tied with Silence of the lambs in my opinion. WELL DONE.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 13, 2007
First of all, almost -everyone- is going to compare it to Silence of the Lambs and Anthony Hopkins in his role as Hannibal. If you do that during the whole movie, you'll sit there with a sour look on your face going "this isn't how Anthony Hopkins played him..."
But if you can wrap your mind around the fact that there was no way they could have possibly gotten Anthony to play a 20 year old Hannibal... you'll be better off. No, it is not Silence of the Lambs. It is not Hannibal "at his prime"... it is Hannibal -rising-. Why he became the way he became, and all that jazz. He was an extremely rage-filled kid and I thought it was very well acted frankly. It has a different feel from the other Hannibal movies.
People say this one "drags". I do not see how it is any less "slow paced" than Hannibal and certainly has better pacing than Red Dragon. We do not see a clever master mind here who never makes any mistakes, Hannibal hasn't had years to perfect his cold talent of killing and psychological warfare yet. However, there is something very geniunely creepy with how he is portrayed and acted in this movie. And it really is a horror story, if you try to see it with a realistic angle...
I reccomend it. It's different. It's not a happy story. It's not Anthony Hopkins, but that doesn't mean it's bad. If you're expecting Anthony's younger double in this, don't bother. The kid has his own style - and I think he did a very good job and came across as quite cold and tormented (I can't think of his name off the top of my head, unfortunately, as he is not a big name actor and thank God for that).
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2007
In `Silence of the lambs' both Clarence Starling and Dr. Frederick Chilton desperately try to unravel the monster that is Hannibal Lector. While Chilton fretted over figuring out what made Hannibal tick to broker a book deal, Starling was all too busy trying to solve a crime while becoming emotionally attached to a psychopath. The enigma of Hannibal Lector is what drove that detective story. The sequel `Hannibal' is a pure tale of horror with Hannibal on the loose in society. Within the framework of that story one tempting revelation came to pass... that Hannibal had been through a traumatic World War II experience involving his family and starvation. Nothing could have been more deliciously tempting. Let's face it by the end of `Hannibal' it was the single most mouth-watering eye-opener into the Hannibal diagnosis since we learned that his pulse did not go above 72 while chewing on a nurse.
`Hannibal Rising' serves up the best dish yet. The whole movie is one big boiling frothing pot that feeds a Harris fan's ravenous need. For those who are interested, you will be licking the spoon and asking for more. Not only that but this movie is a whole new type of thriller. Who can accuse Harris of being uninspired and clichéd? The risk of `Hannibal' is worth the experience of `Rising' and then some more. Harris should be commended for rattling our brains and stomach with suggestive images of a boiling child's bath tub while relating it to the horrific incident that is slowly revealed throughout the frames.
We get one most realistic depictions of a post-WWII France. Hannibal (a tremendously impressive Gaspard Ulliel), a young holocaust survivor of an all different type, has gaps in his memory and tries to remember the horrible thing that happened to him. Brought up and educated to higher than high standards, his only relation his Japanese aunt (Li Gong, a wonderful addition with Samaria swords and masks included!), the damaged child ferments between the cuts, encountering incidents that illuminate the darkness to reveal an evil so unsettling that drives him on to a type of shocking avenge operation for a motive that exposes you to a awfulness that you have never experienced before. This is a whole lot more than just flirting with the insane. This is exactly what intelligent horror should be. It might be Hannibal 4, but that does not mean it is not good. I thought it was one of the best sequels in recent memory. Not "S.O.L.T", but it can stand alone as a damn fine serial killer movie with plenty of brains to boot.