Okay, we're now up to five
Hannibal Lecter movies. (That is, if you count Michael Mann's
Manhunter — which I do). Those movies now include two
prequels and one remake — in fact, Red Dragon was both a prequel AND
a remake of Manhunter.
That said, there has not
been a really good Hannibal Lecter movie since Silence of the Lambs
won Best Picture in 1991. (In fairness, Red Dragon was okay.)
However, even after the gonzo lows of Hannibal, this latest chapter
is by far the worst movie of the series. It's probably not a
coincidence that in the best films, Lecter was a supporting role, not the
main focus of the plot.
is also the first Hannibal movie without
Anthony Hopkins playing the bad doctor since he took on the role in The
Silence of the Lambs. When we
interviewed Hopkins last year, when he was asked about whether the was going
to be involved in this film and he said dismissively that Lecter was done as
far as he was concerned. Sadly, the rest of the people involved in the
series are not quite so shrewd.
is also the first of the films which has a
screenplay by Thomas Harris, the novelist who created the character and
wrote all of the books from which the films were based. In fact, he
released the novel Hannibal Rising just a couple of months before the
movie — which tells you something about the book as well as the movie.
looks back at the genesis of the serial killer — though you really wonder
Hannibal Lecter needs a backstory. At his best, he is evil incarnate,
a dark, inscrutable riddle. The more you know about him, the less he
seems like superhuman malevolence, the more like psycho-babble.
We get taken back to
Hannibal's childhood in Lithuania and see him and his sister being tortured and twisted by
rogue soldiers. This story may be arresting for another character, but
somehow this and Lecter's baby steps into being a serial killer merely
Instead of being a shocking
display of man's inhumanity to man (though it is that, too), Hannibal
Rising is instead living in the
providence of pseudo-psychology and unintentionally funny lines.
(Hannibal explains himself to one of his victims by hissing, "You ate my
It really doesn't become a
legendary boogieman. It's sort of like the moment in The Wizard of
Oz where the mayor insists you ignore the man behind the curtain.
Hannibal Rising takes someone larger than life and makes him look
decidedly small. (5/07)
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Posted: June 2, 2007.