Hannibal Rising

By Mark Ramsey | 2007/02/11

You can’t polish a turd, the saying goes, but MGM can surely take a dump in a couple thousand theaters nationwide, then forget to wipe itself.

After being propped up on a slab for a special screening of Hannibal Rising, the late Louis B. Mayer reportedly said “I pumped Judy Garland with Benzedrine for twenty years for this?!”

We’re in Lithuania in 1944, a sorry place to be when you realize you’re about to sit through one of the worst movies of the year. I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to watch a period movie I prefer a period closer to the beginning of the sentence.

hannibal_hook.jpgIt’s the Nazis! I should have known Hannibal was the fault of the Nazis! From Nazis, there’s only one direction a franchise can go:

Outer space.

That’s right. Jason did it. The Leprechaun did it. There’s no shark worth jumping like the one between the Earth and the stars, in the unlikely event you’ll find a star anywhere near this movie.

Hannibal Rising is what happens when fava beans rot and producer Dino De Laurentis gets blotto on a fine chianti.

You know Dino, he’s the guy who figured the audience wouldn’t notice if Jessica Lange’s writhing in a giant King Kong hand made the hand wiggle like it’s on a pole.

But whom to cast as young Hannibal? “I thought of Gilbert Gottfried for the role,” said De Laurentis, “but his fan base is under-21 – under 21 people, that is.”

“Finally,” added De Laurentis, “I settled on a cheap..er..fresh face.”

Gaspard Ulliel, French for “look at me, I’m Demi Moore,” stars as a version of Hannibal Lechter so unrecognizable from the famous one even a DNA check reveals Ulliel has more genetics in common with a poster at Abercrombie & Fitch than with Anthony Hopkins.

hannibal_is_pretty.jpg“It’s only natural that a model would become an actor,” said Ulliel. “Like acting, modeling is about portraying the human condition – if that human condition looks fabulous!”

Sadly, De Laurentis and his cronies have turned Hannibal Lechter into a young Louis Jourdan, more apt to grow up to terrify Adrienne Barbeau in Swamp Thing than Jodie Foster in the able hands of Jonathan Demme.

If we ever see Gaspard again it will likely be because we need someone to park our car at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Young Hannibal does naughty things, but it’s all justified as a revenge strategy. Bad guys ate his sister, you see, and now he is the avenger for good, meting out justice to those who wronged him. Hannibal has become Batman. He is Batmannibal!

If it were true that we should settle all disputes with vigilante justice, then audiences would have drawn and quartered De Laurentis years ago.

It’s never too late, gang.

Hannibal runs off to live with his aunt who seems to worship an ancient Samurai costume. Naturally, Hannibal trains as a Samurai – and no, I am not kidding. Unfortunately he ignores the first rule of the Samurai, which is “Be in a damn Samurai movie!”

“You smell of smoke and blood,” his aunt tells him as she nuzzles his chest (don’t ask).

“Never roast s’mores with ass cheeks,” says Hannibal.

Hannibal has killed a man and the police are suspicious.

“Did you ever see this man,” one cop asks as he shows Hannibal’s aunt a picture of a victim’s disembodied head.

‘Yes, but taller,” she replied.

If it’s a good story about an avenging serial murderer killing bad guys you want to see, go watch Dexter on Showtime.

Congratulations to author Thomas Harris and Dino De Laurentis for doing what law enforcement could not: Killing Hannibal Lechter.

Note: Any resemblance to any Anthony Hopkins character living or dead is purely coincidental.


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