Halfway through Hannibal

I don't think it's a stretch to say that mediocre movies vastly outnumber the truly awful ones. These mediocre films are far from good but they just aren't bad enough to fill you with glee at the thought of shredding them to bits. All they deserve is a dismissive "meh" at most.

Last night I watched most of Hannibal Rising, based on the fourth of the "Hannibal the Cannibal" serial killer novels by Thomas Harris. Again I can't power up the sarcasm when reviewing what I saw (I did fall asleep), but man it's utter rubbish. Just really dull, superficial crap.

It's not normal for me to watch a film adaptation when I'm halfway through the novel on which it was based, but the movie was on TV last night and I felt like a break from Arakkoa Feather grinding in World of WarCraft.


I can't say that I enjoyed what I saw at all. Then again, I can't say I'm particularly enthralled by the book, Hannibal Rising either... which is a major disappointment because I loved Harris's writing in Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal, all of which translated into good to outstanding films. However, I plan to finish the Hannibal Rising novel, seeing as, with the exception of Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose (which I just couldn't get into), I always force myself to finish what I'm reading... even if I'm not especially enjoying it.

Anyway, probably the biggest problem with Hannibal Rising, the book and the film, is its misguided attempt to try and explain the reasons for Hannibal's "evil". We're a world that demands answers and explanations to blast away the frightening inexplicable - but in the case of Hannibal, explanations strip one of contemporary fiction's greatest villains of his fascinating, sinister hold on readers' imaginations. He loses his frightening unpredictability.

At the same time, curiously, Hannibal Rising offers the least insight into Hannibal's mind of all the books. There are no opulent descriptions of Hannibals's "mind palace", no intense psychologically burrowing dialogue, and little in the way of sharp, graphic descriptions of violence that feature in the other books. Readers are shut out, forced to watch young Hannibal going through the motions without ever grasping what is going on in his head.

At the same time you also feel that author Harris is writing under forced contract, offering up a half-assed attempt to satisfy profit-hungry publishers and movie makers. His heart doesn't seem in his work. No characters or story arcs are developed, leaving proceedings very... well, bland.


And if the book feels flat and uninvolving, the film, which takes the form of a disjointed highlights package of the novel, is even worse. It's not thrilling or frightening at all. Plus, viewers have to endure young actor Gaspard Ulliel doing a very weak Anthony Hopkins impersonation. There's an especially painful scene where Lecter, with stiff, stilted dialogue, tries to burrow into the mind of the detective investigating his first murder.

Really, the most recent Hannibal offerings are both rubbish. What a disappointment... and what a disservice to a fantastic character.

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