Hannibal Rising

Rated 2.0

The child of Lithuanian aristocracy (a decidedly mixed blessing in 1944), this hardy little lad saw a Nazi-Soviet crossfire wipe out most of his family, then saw his little sister done in by a local pack of collaborator thugs. But Hannibal (Aaron Thomas, younger; Gaspard Ulliel, older) escaped and somehow made it into France, where his aunt (Gong Li) imparted a bit of samurai mumbo jumbo and her chef imparted an epicure’s appreciation of fleshy cheeks. Then he somehow made it into medical school, on an accelerated track to grisly revenge. Ulliel’s cheeseball performance varies from a bad impression of Anthony Hopkins to a good impression of that daffy kid you knew (or were) in high school who tried too hard to be sullen and sinister. But maybe the blame lies elsewhere: This is the first adaptation of one of his Hannibal Lecter novels that Thomas Harris has scripted entirely by himself, and he should’ve had help. Unsubtle director Peter Webber only compounds the problem, overstressing what made Lecter a monster when we really want to know what made him a charmer. The movie is what the doctor himself would seem to disdain, a crude, rushed gutting.