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Hannibal Rising Blu-ray impressions

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This evening, before we sat down to watch the UK Blu-ray Disc release of Hannibal Rising, my brother said to me something along the lines of “You’ll enjoy this, but it isn’t a Hannibal Lecter film.” He was absolutely right. Getting any pleasure out of this shameless cash-in penned by Thomas Harris himself requires you to forget what came before it… or rather after it, given that this prequel purports to show us the making of a madman. Try as he might, Gaspard Ulliel fails to convince us that he could possibly grow up to be Anthony Hopkins (or Brian Cox, for you Manhunter aficionados), and certain events call into question what happens later in the series:

Highlight below to reveal spoiler text:

If the police in France knew that Lecter was killing people and eating their flesh, how on earth did it take Will Graham so long to identify him when he did the same in the United States? I know the Frenchies and the Yanks haven’t always had the most cordial of relationships, but come on. Don’t you think this might have been information they would have considered important enough to share with their colleagues across the Atlantic?

So, it doesn’t really fit in with Hannibal, The Silence of the Lambs or even Red Dragon. What the film does do, however, is function rather effectively as a black comedy. I’m not sure how intentional the humour was (probably not very, all things considered), and if you hated the wryness of Hannibal you’ll absolutely loathe this, but I certainly wasn’t bored for a second. It ultimately boils down to little more than a rollicking period piece slasher movie, with the dapper Young Hannibal (that was the film’s working title, by the way) slicing and dicing his way through a cavalcade of loathsome individuals, not one of them with a single redeemable bone on their bodies. In that regard, the film clearly takes the easy way out by failing to provide us with any moral quandaries. At best, it’s a minor distraction, and if you compare it to any of the previous entries in the series, it understandably falls flat, but in my opinion it’s not the turkey the mainstream press have made it out to be.

Unfortunately, with their BD release, Momentum have continued their tradition of espousing a fondness for MPEG-2 video and lossy audio. The transfer is actually reasonably pleasing, with an acceptable (if not stellar - it’s definitely filtered) level of detail and accurate blacks (I actually feel compelled to point this out after the overly grey Butterfly on a Wheel, viewed previously). Alas, there are some occasional but quite prominent compression artefacts (see Example 7 for the worst instance I could spot), and the quantisation noise introduced by the MPEG-2 encoding prevents the grain from looking entirely natural. Finally, a handful of moments appear to suffer from reduced detail and a distracting amount of ringing (see Examples 3 and 6). These moments, which I suspect are the result of monkeying around at the DI stage, don’t last for long, but they do mean that the overall image is rather inconsistent. 7/10

Hannibal Rising
studio: Momentum; country: UK; region code: ABC; codec: MPEG-2;
file size: 17.4 GB; average bit rate (including audio): 19.18 Mbit/sec

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Posted: Sunday, February 08, 2009 at 11:41 PM
Categories: BD Impressions | Blu-ray | Cinema | Technology

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