Hannibal Rising is the Hannibal Lecter origin story no one needed to see. Such an iconic character should be left a mystery. It’s part of Lecter’s appeal. Author Thomas Harris was practically forced to write the prequel novel and the movie’s screenplay. Under threat of losing the character. So Hannibal Rising follows a young Hannibal’s path towards becoming a ruthless serial killer and vicious cannibal. We’re left with a boring revenge thriller that feels more like a historical war drama than a horror movie.
Hannibal once lived in a castle in Lithuania before World War II left most of his family dead. Followed by his dear younger sister Mischa being eaten by sadistic Soviets. Hannibal grows up haunted and despondent until he flees to his deceased uncle’s Japanese wife. Lecter becomes a serial killer by hunting down each remaining Soviet, a doctor by attending medical school, a cannibal by tasting his victims, and his trademark muzzle is represented by a samurai mask.
Gaspard Ulliel comes close to capturing a young Hannibal Lecter, but you can’t really compare him to Anthony Hopkins. Of course the usual problem with having a villain as the lead, is making them too sympathetic. A bigger problem when war criminals are who he’s after. No matter how much they pushed it, Hannibal Rising is further proof that the franchise peaked with The Silence of the Lambs. Until I check out the TV series Hannibal, that’s how I choose to remember the infamous cannibalistic Dr. Hannibal Lecter.
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