Hannibal Rising


Directed by: Peter Webber
Written by:Thomas Harris
Starring: Gaspard Ulliel, Rhys Ifans, Dominic West, Li Gong, Kevin McKidd, Helena Lia Tachovska
Released: February 8, 2007
Grade: C+

Silence Of The Lambs is one of the great thrillers of all time.  It won the Academy Award for best picture, director, screenplay, actor and actress in 1992.  Only two other films, It Happened One Night and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, have achieved such an honour.

Hannibal Rising is a prequel to Silence Of The Lambs in that it looks at how Hannibal Lecter developed his evil nature and his love for human flesh.  Given the popularity of Lambs, I’m sure many people will want see this film out of curiosity.  It’s the same reason why they saw the previous two sequels – the below-average Hannibal in 2001 and the above-average Red Dragon in 2002.

I can best sum up my thoughts on Hannibal Rising in saying that it should have gone straight to video.  It has no big name stars and the storyline is very weak.  French actor Gaspard Ulliel (A Very Long Engagement) has been cast at the teenage Hannibal.  He tries to act cool and creepy but frankly, his performance was laughable.  There had to have been other actors who were more suitable.

The film begins in Lithuania where a young Hannibal witnesses the death of his parents in a World War II attack.  Not long after, his younger sister is slain by a group of Russian soldiers.  I’ll let you see for yourself how she is killed.

We then move eight years into the future and find Hannibal living with his widowed aunt (Li) in France.  Hannibal still has nightmares about his sister’s gruesome death and has decided to find and get revenge on the war criminals responsible.  His knowledge of both martial arts and the human anatomy will ensure that his enemies suffer as much as possible.

Director Peter Webber (Girl With Pearl Earring) has said that “you don’t have as much sympathy for Hannibal at the end as you do in the beginning, but you do understand why he ends up the way he does.”  I disagree.  I thought Hannibal’s transformation was ridiculous and his actions made little sense.  I couldn’t understand how he was always one step ahead of his opponents and how he always had the upper hand.

This story could have been told in ten minutes as a prelude to Red Dragon.  Instead, it’s dragged out into a two hour feature with little drama or suspense.  There are fleeting moments of tension but for the most part, it’s a dull snooze-fest.