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Hannibal Rising
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Yep, I like a good creeper, and it's a genre that has very little middle ground between a classic and a laugher. "Hannibal Rising" never approaches either one very well.

I found the performances and writing of the previous Hannibal Lechter movies to be generally excellent, and Anthony Hopkins was the riveting personification of evil if ever there was one.

The new offering seems to be a rush-produced and clumsy attempt to explain and justify what Hannibal turned out to be. It claims his origin to be an aristocratic Eastern European family in WWII, and the cannibalization of his younger sister by soldiers to be the event that put him on the road to revenge and psychotic mania. Predictably in the film he spends most of the time tracking down and killing the group of soldiers in gruesome ways.

Many of the plot devices are far too simplistic. He has a relatively easy time locating the individual soldiers scattered across Europe and Canada. He coincidentally hooks up with another war orphan from Japan, who teaches him Eastern religion and martial arts. He's tracked by a French police detective who seems just on the edge of wanting to help him in his vengeance, as the officer also lost his family to the cruelty of WWII. Is this starting to sound like "Righteous Revenge of The Teen Ninja Leatherface"? Pretty darned close.

This plotline also fails to recognize the general reality of sociopaths- that they are usually traumatized by someone close to them and trusted, rather than convenient strangers that can be villainized and erased in bloody justice. A far more disturbing reality, but probably too uncomfortable to see as entertainment when realistically portrayed.

All in all, I would rather have seen a more complex movie that showed the ambiguity of Lechter's character, who careens from kindness and genteel cool to abject cruelty and animalism in awful smoothness. Perhaps the next installment will be more subtle and interesting, showing us how Hannibal became a sophisticated and multifaceted personality, and giving us more unexpected twists and suspenseful character behavior than blood and guts. The character deserves much more than this film gave him.

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To be honest, I wish Thomas Harris had left the character alone after Silence of the Lambs.

Hannibal was more enigmatic in that book, and further attempts to explain him or shed light on his past only damage the character's appeal. Great example of "writing a character to death."

Also, I preferred the book version of Silence of the Lambs to the movie... vastly deeper, more complex and interesting. Tantalizing sections of the book never made it into the film, such as a LONG section in which Hannibal taunts Clarice's staunch rationalism and psycho-babble to explain him with a surprisingly firm argument in favor of the simple existence of EVIL... with him being an example of it.

But whatever... the book still exists for those who want to compare it to the excellent, but ultimately abbreviated, film version.

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Agreed- the tantilizing glimpses we got into Lechter's thought processes in the first book and film were much more thought provoking than anything that followed. It was fascinating to see that the people he did awful things to were people that we grew to dislike as well, and almost sympathized with his feelings- until it was clear that he was so convinced of his own rightness that he took excessive enjoyment from his vengeance. He did kill some innocent or well meaning people as well, but did it with much less relish, and almost regret, as people he regarded as innocent too but could not be allowed to interfere with his important goals.

Most of what has followed has been superficial. The original character was a chilling and fascinating look at someone who represents the best- and the worst- in the human race.

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