Hannibal Rising (DVD)

Hannibal Rising Unrated DVD (click for larger image)Starring Gaspard Ulliel, Helena Lia Tachovska, Richard Leaf, Michele Wade, Martin Hub, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Li Gong

Directed by Peter Webber

Distributed by Genius Products, LLC

Zzzz …. zzzz …. zzzz … Huh?! What’s that?! There’s a Hannibal Lecter movie going on? THE HELL YOU SAY! I haven’t seen hide nor hair of Anthony Hopkins and I’ve been sitting here watching … well OK, napping, for over two hours! Surely someone didn’t make a Hannibal film without him! How could they?

Well I’ll be.

Let’s face it, folks — we live in a world in which everything is over-explained. There’s just no mystery anymore. We have to know everything. At least that was Thomas Harris’ take when he wrote the novel on which this film is based, Hannibal Rising (book review here). Yep, our good Dr. Lecter’s early years have been dissected, analyzed, and finally put to celluloid. So does it work? In a word — no.

Hannibal Rising Unrated DVD (click for larger image)Hannibal Rising has all of the stunning beauty of the other films in this franchise; yet, even that cannot save it from its own mediocrity. Let’s start at the beginning …

After his parents are killed, young Hannibal and his sister, Mischa, are held prisoner by a roving pack of would-be Nazis. Things get desperate for the men and their captives. So desperate in fact, that the group has to resort to cannibalism as a means to stay alive. Of course this not only develops Hannibal’s taste for flesh but also drives him a bit mad. Fast forward a few years. Hannibal (played with much scenery chewing goodness by Gaspard Ulliel) sets out on his own to find the men who held him and his sister hostage way back when. What follows is your standard revenge tale which — dare I say it — lacks any real bite.

Part of the magic behind the character we all know and love was Hopkins’ deliciously ghoulish portrayal. Ulliel isn’t bad for what he has to work with, but Sir Anthony he is not. Bottom line — this leaves a huge void not only in the film but within the hearts of fans that cannot be filled.

Hannibal Rising Unrated DVD (click for larger image)Now let’s talk about the word. You see it there in those enticing red letters. Unrated. Could there have been a bit more meat to pick at that the MPAA wisely shielded us from? Maybe the presence of a little more grue could make this predominantly boring and flaccid piece of unnecessary fiction go down a bit easier. Guess what? We get nothing. Not a single extra drop of blood. Just a few more minutes of exposition. Thanks. Appreciate that. Why not just include a coupon for sleeping pills as a DVD extra?

Speaking of which …

Don’t expect too much from the supplemental material. We get a feature commentary with director Peter Webber and producer Martha De Laurentiis that amounts to little more than pretentious back patting. Seven minutes of deleted scenes with optional ass kissing commentary. A seven-minute featurette hosted by production designer Allan Starski (who is nothing without Hutch) entitled Designing Horror and Elegance (can’t you just smell the snobbery?). And then things are capped off with a sixteen-minute featurette that at least sounds promising, Hannibal Lecter: The Origin of Evil. The operative word there being sounds. Instead of a concise look at the fava bean eating madman, we just get a bit more musing by the culprits behind this snooze-fest.


In closing … aw, screw it. I’m going back to sleep. Someone wake me when Hopkins returns from making shitty courtroom thrillers with a whole new recipe for evil.

Special Features
Commentary with director Peter Webber and producer Martha De Laurentiis
Deleted scenes with optional commentary
Designing Horror and Elegance featurette
Hannibal Lecter: The Origin of Evil featurette


2 1/2 out of 5

Special Features

2 1/2 out of 5

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Steve Barton

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