Hannibal Rising (2007) - Unrated

Genre(s): Action / Drama / Thriller
Weinstein Company || Unrated - 131 minutes - $29.95 || May 29, 2007
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2007-05-26


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

A U D I O &
.:: V I D E O ::.

Audio and Video

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Peter Webber
Writer(s): Thomas Harris (novel/screenplay)
Cast: Gaspard Ulliel, Gong Li, Rhys Ifans, Dominic West


Theatrical Release Date: February 9, 2007


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Director and Producer Commentary
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Hannibal Lecter: The Origin of Evil
  • Designing Horror and Elegance
  • Trailer Gallery


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.35)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish

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.::THE FILM::.

IMAGE

Plot (from DVD back cover): In Red Dragon we learned who he was. In The Silence of the Lambs, we learned how he did it. Now comes the most chilling chapter in the saga of Hannibal Lecter - the one that answers the most elusive question of all - why?

Warning: Review Contains Minor Spoilers...

Hannibal Rising is the fourth Hannibal film -- 5th if you include Manhunter, but for the sake of this review, I don’t include that in this continuum -- and while it does indeed give us the “why” Hannibal is the way he is, I’m not sure if that’s necessarily a good thing. Hannibal is a character that was mysterious and frightening yet cultured. Much like how some comic book fans prefer The Joker remain nameless and past-less, I think what makes Hannibal most chilling is we have no idea how he became a cannibal and just an all around demonic person. I think it is better to let our imaginations believe what we want to, but that was not good enough apparently.

The film begins amidst World War II as Lithuania is under assault by the Nazis. The Lecter clan is forced from their home and flees to a cottage away from the violence but even there, they could not escape. A Russian tank comes by to make use of their well where Nazi planes make target and Hannibal’s parents are caught in the crossfire. Now alone, Hannibal and his sister are left to fend for themselves when a group of rogue Nazis, there to plunge the wealth of the land, find the kids in the cottage. I won’t divulge any further, by needless to say something happens that triggers one of Hannibal’s most notorious cravings...

He survives after being saved by the Russians and we flash forward 8 years later as Hannibal (Ulliel) is living back at his old home, but it had been taken by the State and turned into an orphanage. He escapes and makes his way to France where he meets his late uncle’s wife (Gong) and they soon form a friendship. However, this is where Hannibal Lecter takes form as he seeks revenge against those who did his sister wrong.

There’s nothing particularly wrong with the film as Peter Webber’s direction is good and the cinematography by Ben Davis (Layer Cake) is actually quite beautiful. The first half of the film, despite the grotesque elements, is more like some kind of historical war-drama than a “Hannibal Lecter” movie. Although not exactly enamored by those elements, it was still at least semi-intriguing. The film’s second half picks up some steam as Hannibal, in between seeking revenge and toying with a police official (West), attends medical school and has the job of working on corpses.

Hannibal Rising isn’t nearly as bad as I had heard or read. On the plus side, it has some high quality production value but the story was lacking. No, Thomas Harris’s adaptation of his own novel wasn’t bad (who else knows Hannibal better?), but for one, I honestly did not care who or why Hannibal was the way he was -- more mystery, less history... That said, there are some frightening moments and even though Gaspard Ulliel doesn’t come close to the presence of Anthony Hopkins, he fills the role just fine.

Since this is from The Weinstein Company, your only options are to either buy it (which I don’t recommend) or rent it from Blockbuster. If you’re a Hannibal fan and have a fascination for the character, then perhaps this is the movie for you, otherwise wait for cable or maybe buy it on sale or previously viewed.

As for the “unrated” tag, Hannibal Rising is 14-minutes longer than the theatrical version (117 vs. 131) but having never seen that one, I couldn’t tell you exactly what was added. After listening to the commentary, it is pointed out what was added. The biggest additions seemed to be Hannibal’s escape across a Russian border check. Another long segment concerns a piano and Hannibal to gain access to a house.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Director and Producer Commentary - Director Peter Webber and producer Martha De Laurentiis was recorded separately and includes a good amount of behind-the-scenes information and other tid-bits (one scene location, shot in Prague, was also used in the original Mission: Impossible). De Laurentiis points out possibly missed elements about the character as well as wanting Gong Li so much, they pushed production back so she could finish filming Miami Vice. Webber also provides comments on additional scenes and why they were not included in the theatrical version.

Despite the comments being spliced in, it actually flows well and makes for an intriguing commentary.

Deleted Scenes (4:17) - The DVD offers up 5 deleted scenes with an optional director commentary. The scenes aren’t all that great and since the film was already longer, it seems these scraps were all that was left.

Hannibal Lecter: The Origin of Evil (16:09) - This ‘making-of’ featurette talks with the cast and crew about filming a prequel and why it was necessary. There’s some insight from Ulliel about taking the role and how he watched Hopkins’s performances to get an idea about mannerisms.

Designing Horror and Elegance (7:29) - A short and simple featurette with production designer Alan Starski, who, in between sit-down comments, takes us on a tour of a kitchen made up for the era.

There’s also a trailer gallery. I applaud Genius Productions (or The Weinstein Company) for including the theatrical and teaser trailers, a rarity on DVD today.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

IMAGE

The film is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 2.35 OAR, and looks OK overall. I did, however, notice some dust and scratches on certain scenes (one in particular) and for a modern film, unless it was intentional, it is unforgivable. Of course, that was only a minor thing when looking at the project as a whole, but I still was surprised to see scratches.

The only audio option is the standard Dolby Digital 5.1. It is more than suitable for any home theater owners between the beautiful, yet haunting, score to some wartime explosions.



.::OVERALL::.

Hannibal Rising is actually an OK movie and for those interested in the Hannibal Lecter character, you might want to give this a try (or to complete your Lecter collection to go along with Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal). The DVD is alright and has some decent features given the it barely made a whisper at the box office (less than $30m domestically, $90m worldwide).