I donít know what it is about the fourth movie in a series. It seems like a lot of film series run out of gas at this point. Most famously was Batman and Robin but there was also Superman IV the Quest for Peace. Even Goblet of Fire was a let down after Prisoner of Azkaban. Watch out Live Free or Die Hard.
Suffice it to say that Hannibal Rising is no where near worthy of the legacy of Silence of the Lambs. A movie trying to tell a story like this needs to walk a fine line between true human horror and operatic tragedy with just a dash of macabre humour. Director Peter Webber fumbles the mix throwing in too little horror (he glosses over just how horrible these things are), too little tragedy (he never makes it seem that bad) and too much humour (there are too many giggle inducing moments).
Also, Gaspard Ulliel, the oddly plain faced nubie whoís got the thankless job of trying to be a young Hopkins, plays Hannibal as a one note character. He walks around with a constant grimace. He doesnít get into the psychology of the character, ironic for this specific character. We never really buy that heís becoming what he is becoming.
However, there is a lot of interesting ideas in Hannibal Rising. I loved the backstory even if it did feel rushed. I loved that Hannibal is wrong in his analysis of how he is wronged and therefore never justified in his madness. I also loved the fact that he lost the woman he loves because of who he chooses to be. All of this was the basis for a great movie that just never got made.
The movie doesnít skimp on production. Hannibal Rising never feels cheap. The movie looks like itís A list despite being less than. A film like this often feels like a straight to video affair - Queen of the Damned is a good example. The film makers of Hannibal Rising must have believed in what they were doing.
One of the saving graces is the gorgeous Gong Li. She would read the phone book and be fascinating to watch. Thatís pretty much all she was given to do in Memoirs of a Geisha and she was still incredible. Here she does the best she can.
If there is a murderer here they murdered the series. Hannibal needs to be treated with more expertise to work and itís just not here. Good try but not a success.