Written by John Edward Betancourt
Truly there comes a moment in all of our lives that completely and utterly defines us. Be it traumatic or triumphant these moments change everything for us. They often inspire us to be better people, to drive forward toward our goals and enjoy a happy and successful life.
But there are moments that also drive us in the opposite direction, ones that ruin our lives as they consume us with anger or hatred and lead us to believe the one way to set our lives straight is to seek the comfort of sweet revenge. It is that quest for vendetta that drives the origin story of Hannibal Lecter in the film, Hannibal Rising.
In this latest entry in the franchise we learn about a horribly traumatic experience from Hannibal's youth. For in the 1940's during World War II, while hiding out in a cabin with his sister Mischa, German soldiers found them and in the absence of food...killed and feasted on Mischa. Years later, Hannibal, now in medical school remembers this atrocity and decides to set things right, by hunting down the soldiers responsible for this horrible act...and brutally murder them.
Of all five of the films in the Lecter franchise, this is by far the weakest, because quite frankly, something is missing from this particular motion picture. Sure, there is plenty of action and plenty of kills. Sure it's awesome to finally understand what makes Hannibal the incredible monster he becomes later on in the story, in fact it's extremely fascinating to see how much this horrific event has truly defined Lecter and formed his life, but as I said before, something is simply not there.
In my humble opinion it's the fact that in essence, we are dealing with a young man who while he was able to repress the memories of this traumatic event, he truly knows that something is amiss and when he is able to realize the source of his pain and unleash the fury within, this story simply boils down to blind revenge. It makes for an entertaining film, but what always made Hannibal Lecter such a powerful character was how he used his intellect to quietly hunt his prey. There was a refinement to his madness, a certain class as crazy as that might sound. It's what made the character so appealing to all of us, the fact that he was such the gentlemen, so calm, so collected...until it became time to kill.
I guess in reality it would be impossible to craft a prequel without stripping so much of that away, but without those elements central to the character this film in a way, detaches you from it. This is by no means a flat out awful film, I think it just needed a little more thought on how to bridge both the past and present of this iconic monster. See it out of respect, but go in without expectations, and be ready for a vastly different Hannibal Lecter.