Saturday, February 10, 2007

HANNIBAL RISING - he knows Kung Fu

HANNIBAL RISING is an unnecessary prequel to the Hannibal Lektor stories, RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. I call it unnecessary because I always thought it was scary to see Lektor as an evil that simply existed rather than the result of some childhood trauma. The unexplained is infinitely more frightening that the neatly diagnosed. Of course, in a world of shameless cash-ins, a prequel was a dead cert, and here we have it.

The movie is directed by Peter Webber of THE GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING fame, and so looks handsome and contains fine performances as far as the absurd script allows. It opens on the Eastern Front of World War Two, with the aristocratic Lektor family being caught in the cross-fire of the Nazis, Soviets and mercenary partisans. Trapped in a cabin with the latter, Lektor as a young ten-year old sees them cannibalise his young sister. This would be a plot spolier (it takes Hannibal half the film to remember) were it not so bloody obvious from the start. Lektor survives the attack and as a young adult escapes a Soviet orphanage - gaily pole-vaulting over the Berlin Wall - to join his widowed Aunt in France. In another authorial choice that stretches credibility, the aunt turns out to be a glamourous Japanese woman who teaches him Samurai skills (!) and condones his murderous crimes of vengeance. Hannibal then attends medical school, becomes involved in the persecution of Vichy criminals and returns to his home to extract revenge.

Gaspard Ulliel (A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT) and Gong Li do as well as can be expected with their roles as Hannibal and Lady Murasaki. Ditto Rhys Ifans as the original cannibal. But the whole this is transparent nonsense and even more high-camp than the Anthony Hopkins movies. I am also slightly disturbed by the casual way in which the Holocaust is used as a sort of narrative crutch for the movie. Clealy, one to avoid.

HANNIBAL RISING is on release in the US, UK, France, Australia, Russia, Canada, Denmark, Italy, Latvia and Turkey. It opens in Germany, Austria, Finland, Iceland and Norway on February 16th, and in Belgium and Estonia on February 23rd. t opens in Singapore on March 1st, the Netherlands on March 8th, Hong Kong on March 15th, Japan on March 31st and in Malaysia on April 14th.

1 comment:

  1. I couldn't agree more. Had potential for something really good but the script was AWFUL.