The only thing more gag inducing than sitting down to watch a movie that you know includes cannibalism is seeing ‘The Weinstein Company’ as the first slide in the opening credits.
That being said, Hannibal Rising is somewhat of a boring slog, although I don’t know if I would be felt the same way if I had seen it soon after release. See, the TV show Hannibal ruined me. Bryan Miller’s rich imagery and characterization is like an onion – so many layers. There are no layers to Hannibal Rising…the character of Hannibal jumps directly from traumatized child to hand-stabbing lunatic. There’s no mystery, Hannibal’s inner monologue is missing. I feel that Hannibal’s voice is the most compelling part of the book, while the film views Hannibal coldly, in the third person. (Thomas Harris wrote the novel and screenplay simultaneously, in order to avoid the studio handing the project off to another writer.) Both the book and the screenplay were from the same writer, during the same time period, so I’ve got to shift blame to the Director, Peter Webber. Sorry, Peter.
Casting, however, was masterful. Gaspard Ulliel’s chiseled features were perfect for young Hannibal – imagine if Crispin Glover and Andy Samberg had a love child. Gong Li (or Li Gong?) is as lovely as she was 16 years earlier in Raise the Red Lantern. She is suitably sympathetic as Lady Murasaki, although I have to admit, it’s a bit annoying to watch a Chinese actress cast as a Japanese character. Ugh.
For most of the film, I thought that Kolnas was played by Tony Goldwyn and I was rooting for his death. (Residual grudge from Ghost – I always root for Tony Goldwyn’s death now.) But It wasn’t Goldwyn, it was Kevin McKidd! Tommy in Trainspotting! I swear, this has happened before…but cannot remember when.
As I alluded to earlier, the film was visually boring, but my standards are admittedly high. It wasn’t that I wanted more gore – I just wanted more creative gore. I feel like more attention should have been paid to the scenes that Hannibal was creating, and the crimes themselves.
Now I just need to watch Red Dragon, which has probably also been ruined for me!