Monday, February 12, 2007

Hannibal Rising - Spoilers!

Reviews haven't exactly been kind to the latest chapter in the Hannibal Lecter saga, and I'm afraid I'll be doing a little piling on. From "Manhunter" to "Silence of the Lambs" and even into "Hannibal", there was always a sense that Mr. Lecter was a complicated, conflicted fellow, a maze of psychological influences. So it's a little disappointing that Thomas Harris, the creator of Lecter, has chosen to reduce to Lecter's need to kill down to one incredibly superficial, "quid-pro-quo" piece of emotional history. Basically, young Hannibal was forced to watch impotently as nasty World War 2 profiteers ate his beloved little Sister. And so from this terrible moment "Hannibal The Cannibal" was born.

Even basing Lecter's entire emotional life around this one event would be okay if something interesting came out of it, but "Hannibal Rising" is essentially a tedious version of "Death Wish," with a cannabalistic killer as hero. There is something so perverse about making Lecter our rooting interest that I want to give points just for that. Unfortunately, "Hannibal Rising" eschews the creepiness of "Manhunter," the intelligence of "Silence" and the over-the-top madness of "Hannibal," aspiring apparently to be little more than just another horror movie. And as that, it's pretty much a dud.

Worse than that, moments are just plain risable. The young Hannibal has all the preternatural skulking ability of Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger. In one scene, he's able to figure out the exact POV of an oncoming assailant and set up a diversion, a diversion the bad guy would have spotted if he'd moved just one inch to the right as he peeked around a corner. At another moment, learning his Chinese stepmother is being held captive on a houseboat (don't ask), Lecter rushes to a bridge at the exact moment the boat is going past and jumps on board... how the hell he knew WHICH bridge, or even which river, given the paucity of info received, is just another of those unanswered mysteries. It's one thing to suggest Lecter is capable of great deductive reasoning, but in this movie he's just one lucky Super-cannibal, appearing where he needs to appear to keep the story moving.

It's too bad, because Hannibal Lecter really is one of the great villains... maybe it's time to let the ol' cannibal rest awhile.


Anonymous Jay W said...

Rest for a while? I say put him to rest for good. Harris should have stopped with SILENCE, and left the character with some mystery still left within him. Now, he's turned into a joke.

I also wonder if Harris has considered that his entire career will be made up of the exploits of an evil cannibal. Yuck.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Ugh. I've said it before and I'll say it again... showing the "origin" of these hugely popular horror villains is about the worst thing you can do... unless, of course, the idea is taking all of the mystery out of the character.

I fear Rob Zombie is going to do the same thing with his Halloween remake.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"At another moment, learning his Chinese stepmother is being held captive on a houseboat"

Corrections: she is his uncle's widowed wife and she is Japanese not Chinese.

3:57 AM  

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