Massawyrm Eviscerates HANNIBAL RISING, Then Gnaws On Its Putrid Innards!!
Published at: Feb. 9, 2007, 2:13 p.m. CST by merrick
Hola all. Massawyrm here.
Thomas Harris hates Hannibal Lecter. No, I mean he fucking HATES Hannibal Lecter. Hates the ever loving shit out of him. There’s no other explanation outside of mental illness. No, fuck you. It ain’t greed. Harris is a solid writer and Hannibal Lecter books wouldn’t be a hard thing to write. He could write book after book after book of Hannibal eating his way across the world while a different cop narrowly misses catching him at the end of EVERY FUCKING BOOK and yet it would still be readable. It would have an audience. And an unending series of cinematic adaptations steadily declining in quality and budget. But this. There is no explanation for this. No explanation for the end of Hannibal. No explanation but that he has come to hate Hannibal Lecter and keeps trying to write himself into a hole that no one will bother paying him to write himself out of.
But Thomas Harris has sorely underestimated the property raping potential of MGM. There is no part of their epic legacy those folks wouldn’t truss up, pimp out and smack around for a couple more dollars. No. Hannibal Lecter is their bitch now, and as long as they can convince Harris to sit down at a typewriter, they will publicly violate him over and over again. And this time, MGM is tag teaming ole Harris/Lecter with the boys over at the Weinstein Company, who proved for over a decade with Dimension Film that no legacy was sacred, no fanbase ever fully exploited.
And the worst of it is, that living in a vacuum, this film isn’t all that terrible. In fact, as a B-movie, it ain’t half bad up until the ending.
You see, this isn’t actually a Hannibal Lecter movie. Except that there’s this guy in it named Hannibal Lecter. And if for some reason he weren’t named Hannibal Lecter, this would be something of a watchable film. But it isn’t, because he is.
This is a revenge film. Not a horror film. Not a cop thriller. Not a twisted macabre origin story. It is a revenge film. About a kid who endures a horrible trauma only to grow up to get revenge on the guys who perpetrated it. Now, along the way we’re supposed to see how cracked this character is becoming, how he’s slowly becoming…wait for it…Hannibal Lecter. But it never rationally follows. Nothing seems to hint at who Hannibal Lecter is, in essence, in any of the other works. Instead, they give us a series of one liners – little in jokes for people who know the series. Oh look, he’s arranging flowers! Oh look, he drawing pictures and hanging them on his wall! Oh look, that’s the first time he started analyzing his pursuer! Oh! He’s…putting on a Japanese mask that covers the lower half of his face, which is supposed to foreshadow the mask they’ll put on him in prison? And he’s happy about it? What the fuck? Seriously?
Nothing hints at how Hannibal really breaks, what really makes him kill and eat who he does. They try to make him some kind of sick, demented superhero who kills and eats bullies. But that comes across as utter horseshit. It is a nonsensical demystification of one of the greatest villains of the late 20th century. This isn’t what you expect out of the person who created him. This is what you expect from a young hack who takes the gig for money but has a great idea for a script that all he has to do is rework a bit and WHAMMO! It’s a Hannibal film. It is hands down the most ridiculous, retarded, incomprehensibly ludicrous thing you’re bound to see anytime soon. Made not by hacks, but by serious fucking guys. This is Episode 1-3 origin of Darth Vader fucked up. Complete with a Padme! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Climactic emotional turn.
If Thomas Harris wrote this for real, he did so the night before his deadline was up. That’s how fucking off this thing is. And if director Peter Webber (Girl with a Pearl Earring) agreed to do this on the merit of the work, he signed on the dotted line before they showed him the manuscript. I really, truly want to believe that. Because no one looks at this script and thinks it is a real movie. No one. This is the type of origin you’d expect from a Ewe Boll – not the director of an Oscar Nominated art film and the writer of one of the best thrillers of our time.
Gaspard Ulliel is fucking awful as Hannibal. Not that I really blame him. He’s not a terrible actor, per se, but he’s forced, seemingly at gunpoint, to try and duplicate the mannerisms of the Lecter we all know and loathe. He tries to get the speech down, he tries to move with the same subtle grace. He even has the slicked hair. But none of it works. Because it only serves to remind you that Hannibal Lecter is in a movie he doesn’t belong in, in a story of which he should play no part.
I mean, for fucks sake, Hannibal Lecter gets samurai martial arts training from Gong fucking Li. Seriously. The movie takes a five-minute break and becomes Batman Begins and shit, getting into the conquering your fears hallucinatory bullshit that works in a comic book movie, but not in a monster movie. Not with the villain. At times this movie seems to want to invoke much better films, especially the grimy 70’s revenge flicks like Rolling Thunder and Thriller (aka They Call Her One Eye), but it never gets there. It is too slick, too forced and too disjointed.
We’re not supposed to root for the monster. Not like this. It’s totally okay in a monster movie to pull for the bad guy when he’s killing total waste of flesh stereotypes. You know, the kind of bloodshed that is pure fantasy and gets you hootin’ and hollerin’ at the sheer excess of it all. But not like this. Not where you’re actually supposed to feel for the guy, the whole way through. I mean, I could dig it if we follow him, sympathize with him and then watch as he really goes over the edge. Where he kills and eats someone who gets in the way of his revenge, like the cop pursuing him. Or the cleaning lady that stumbles in on him mid-snack. Someone innocent. Then we could get to see where this guy had truly become his own thing. Where he becomes even worse than the men he’s pursuing. Where we start to actually feel for the men who created him. The men who sinned, suffered, repented and now just want to get on with their lives – only to discover that the little boy they tormented is now the scariest mother fucker they’ve ever met. I could get that. That’s a movie I might end up liking.
But this is far from that fucking movie. This is cinematic sloppy seconds on a body that’s already been double or triple dipped. And the only thing I can reckon is that Thomas Harris hates Hannibal Lecter and never wants to write another Lecter story again. I’ll tell you one thing, after this I certainly never want to see one again. Ever. I might not even want to go back and revisit the originals for fear of this perverted attempt at forging a mythos might leak out into them, forever altering the way I perceive them. That’s how fucking bad this is. It cheapens the whole of the series.
Until next time friends, smoke ‘em if ya got ‘em.