by: Peter Webber
Starring: Gaspard Ulliel, Rhys
Ifans, Gong Li, Helena Lia Tachovska, Dominic West,
Released by: The
Short: The origins of Hannibal Lecter, cannibal
and serial killer extraordinaire, begin in this
plodding story of post-World War II revenge.
He's Back, in this Prequel
to a Prequel
you have been living under a rock for the last 20 years,
you already know a lot about Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The
brainchild of author Thomas Harris, the brilliant doctor
turned cannibalistic serial killer has been iconized in
four previous films: “Manhunter,” Oscar-winner
“The Silence of the Lambs,” “Hannibal,”
and “Red Dragon.” Now with “Hannibal
Rising” Harris goes back to the beginning, tracing
Lecter's transformation from innocent young boy to hardened
adult murderer who likes eating human liver “with
some fava beans and a nice Chianti.”
who wrote both the current bestseller and the film's screenplay,
takes us back to Lithuania in 1944, when Lecter and his
wealthy family are overrun by the Nazis and forced to
flee their palatial home. The terrible events that ensue
breed in young Hannibal a thirst for vengeance.
key problem with this origin story is in the pacing of
the film. Much like director Peter Webber's previous “The
Girl with the Pearl Earring,” “Hannibal Rising”
plods along. The action unfolds so slowly that by the
time Hannibal (now a medical student in Paris)
begins killing and chomping on those that were responsible
for his family's miseries, we don’t care anymore.
We've been lulled into such a feeling of boredom that
even his macabre murders don't really jolt us to attention.
Plus, it is obvious from the start that each bad guy is
going to get it in the end, leaving the story without
are bright spots in the film, however. French actor Gaspard
Ulliel gives a credible performance as Hannibal, and Welshman
Rhys Ifans (“Notting Hill”) shows a completely
different side to his art as the cruel leader of the Nazis'
Lithuanian allies, whose wartime atrocities result in
their eventual doom.
the subplot with Gong
Li as Hannibal's exotic Japanese aunt is almost laughable,
and completely devoid of the sexual tension that is supposed
to ignite between the two. Those endless scenes are part
of the ultimate feeling of boredom that pervades “Hannibal
Rising,” the weakest entry in the long-running series
chronicling the life of the serial-killing cannibal we
all love to hate.