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    Posted: February 07 2007 at 4:46pm

85% Dis-Approval Ratings at RT  -- It's enough to make you consider giving up cannibalism! Here's a LINK to the RT page for HANNIBAL RISING to see if its numbers as a DVD rise...or plummet! 

UP-DATE: As of early July, HANIBAL RISING is now ranked the #10 Worst Movie of the Year So Far (First Half of 2007). Here's a LINK to check out its entry there...  


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Review: Hannibal Sinks in `Rising'

Thursday February 8 2:29 PM ET

Hannibal Lecter grew tiresome the second and third times Anthony Hopkins played him as a full-blown psychopath in all his seasoned, insatiable glory.

Young Hannibal, as played by Gaspard Ulliel in the ponderously silly "Hannibal Rising," is a green, boyish, bland pup by comparison.

Watching the earnest but under-qualified Ulliel perpetrate Hannibal's initial grisly slayings is like going back in time to hear the screeches of a violin virtuoso's incipient swipes on the strings the first time he picks up the instrument.

"Young Hannibal" chronicles the early years of Lecter, the serial killer masterfully played by Hopkins in "The Silence of the Lambs" a role he reprised to considerably lesser effect in the sequel "Hannibal" and the prequel "Red Dragon."

Author Thomas Harris, for the first time writing the screenplay for one of his Lecter tales, expands on some brief reflections of Hannibal's childhood in an earlier novel to offer the full back story of how a bright-eyed boy becomes a cannibalistic monster.

The story opens in Lithuania in 1944, where Hannibal, sister Mischa and their parents are trying to ride out the last gasps of World War II. Caught between the Soviet advance and the final savagery of local Nazi sympathizers, Hannibal winds up orphaned and emotionally shattered by an atrocity involving his adorable baby sister.

Harris and director Peter Webber, making a gruesome U-turn from his quiet, artful "Girl With a Pearl Earring," gloss over Hannibal's early teen years in a Soviet orphanage and his escape to the West, clunkily transplanting him in an instant to the bosom of his beautiful aunt, Lady Murasaki (Gong Li), in France.

Hannibal gets lessons from his aunt in Oriental warrior traditions and as a young medical student gets to play with cadavers, both pastimes that will serve him well in his future hobby as carver and consumer of human flesh.

Early on, there are traces of wicked humor and insight into Hannibal's bestial development, but "Hannibal Rising" quickly tumbles our vicious protagonist into carnal, vengeful butchery merely to satisfy his and the filmmakers' bloodlust.

Hannibal embarks on a reign of revenge involving a local butcher who insulted his aunt and then on the brute (Rhys Ifans) and his henchmen responsible for his sister's horrible fate.

It's savage, visceral and kind of boring. Nothing Hannibal does, internally or externally, is terribly interesting, and Ulliel's lightweight presence doesn't help.

Ulliel is best-known to U.S. audiences as Audrey Tautou's missing lover in "A Very Long Engagement," where the actor's boyishness served the story well. As diabolical iceman Lecter, Ulliel's fresh-faced bloodlust is often farcically grotesque.

Gong is typically grand as Murasaki, though realizing the demon her nephew's becoming, her character's attachment toward Hannibal is incomprehensible. Dominic West adds a fine supporting role as a French detective on Hannibal's trail, yet his character's passivity toward his quarry also is puzzling.

The real trouble is with Harris' story, which asks the audience to embrace Hannibal as a sort of hero and victim whose terrible actions are justified because of his childhood trauma.

Hannibal's a far more engaging character as he appears in "Silence of the Lambs," a devil without a past, a mythic creature born with the cannibal chromosome, a monster who just is, not one that needs to be explained away.

Like that violin virtuoso scratching tunelessly on the strings, Hannibal Lecter had to start somewhere. Doesn't mean we want to sit through his grade-school debut recital, though.

"Hannibal Rising," an MGM and Weinstein Co. release, is rated R for strong grisly violent content and some language/sexual references. Running time: 121 minutes. One and a half stars out of four.


Motion Picture Association of America rating definitions:

G General audiences. All ages admitted.

PG Parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

PG-13 Special parental guidance strongly suggested for children under 13. Some material may be inappropriate for young children.

R Restricted. Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian.

NC-17 No one under 17 admitted.

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