Time Out says
Remember when The Silence of the Lambs got hounded by charges of tuck-your-sac-back trannie slamming? Sixteen years later, it’s obvious the real crime wasn’t vilification of gays but glamorization of slays: Oh, Hannibal, with your aesthete’s tastes, rich diet and love of Glenn Gould. When will you love me?
Even novelist Thomas Harris is now hoodwinked by his creation’s faux pedigree. He’s scripted him a ridiculously Eurotrashy upbringing (one so silly, it’ll remind you of Dr. Evil’s memory-tripping: “Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons...”), certain that we’ll ooh and aah at every adolescent snub. The psychological signposting starts long before we reach Castle Lecter: a spider spinning its web; an adorable younger sister with ripe, luscious cheeks; the Nazis storming the gates.
Young Hannibal (the Matthew Modine--like Ulliel) has his eye on medicine. When he’s not sharpening blades or defending the honor of his widowed aunt and sex teacher Lady Murasaki (Gong, who needs a new agent), he sweats bullets over the fate of dear departed sis. No film released by a major studio has expended more glee on our enjoyment of a sympathetic cannibal’s family revenge.
Don’t think too deeply about that. Backstories never make things scarier; it’s our need for them that’s nerve-racking. Couple this with Lecter’s elevation to the horror pantheon, and you have one very different godhead than the antagonist tamed by Agent Starling. These days, we rejoice in his triumph. But who else are Americans supposed to identify with—the torture victims? Please. (Now playing; Click here for venues.) — Joshua Rothkopf