Hannibal Rising (2007)

3.5 Overall Score
Story: 3/10
Acting: 5/10
Visuals: 5/10

Looks good

Hannibal is scarier without a back story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Hannibal Rising

Studio:  Dino De Laurentiis

Genre(s):  Horror

Release Date(s):  February 7, 2007

MPAA Rating:  R


I will lamely try to out-psycho the other Lecters

Every story has a beginning, and for a young boy named Hannibal Lecter, that begin takes place in the war torn Lithuania in 1941.  When his mother is killed and Hannibal and his sister Mischa are captured by starving Nazi soldiers, the long harsh winter brings out the worst in men and gives Hannibal his first taste of flesh.  Now, the war is over and Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel) is living with his aunt Lady Murasaki (Gong Li) in France.  Hannibal has plans for the men who destroyed his innocence and his sister and begins to hunt the former Nazis.  As Inspector Pascal Popil (Dominic West) seeks to stop the Nazis legal, he finds himself competing with Hannibal’s deadly actions…and these actions awaken a monster.

Directed by Peter Webber, Hannibal Rising adapts the 2006 Thomas Harris novel.  The movie is a prequel to Red Dragon (or Manhunter), Silence of the Lambs, and Hannibal.  It was largely panned by critics and received Razzie nomations for Worst Prequel or Sequel and Worst Excuse for a Horror Movie.

I loved, loved Silence of the Lambs.  I liked Red Dragon.  I tolerated Hannibal…and hated Hannibal Rising.  The movie takes a great and interesting character and removes the mystique and in the process the scariness.  Hannibal Rising effectively neuters Hannibal Lecter.


Wahoo! A totally unnecessary pop-culture reference to the other films!

Hannibal Lecter was a great literary creation and even felt like a literary creation on the big screen.  He was a scary, cool, and collected killer.  In Silence of the Lambs he really doesn’t have a ton of screentime but Anthony Hopkins made the most of it.  It is also the reason that Red Dragon worked…limited Hannibal (it was actually expanded for the movie).  Here, Hannibal is the star, and it demystifies the character by giving him motive.  He is a cannibal because he was forced to eat his sister and he kills in a misguided attempt to avenge her and justify himself.  I didn’t need this.  I just wanted him to be a scary mystery.

Gaspard Ulliel plays Hannibal too much as a psycho.  It could be argued that Gaspard is playing a younger, less controlled Hannibal, but I can’t see Gaspard’s Hannibal evolving into Anthony Hopkins (or Brian Cox or Mads Mikkelsen for that matter).  He is too much of a loose cannon and too willing to take risks and chances that the character would never take.  Unfortunately for Ulliel he has little to fall back on with a rather generic cast of supporting characters and an underused Dominic West and Gong Li.


Yep…this one pretty much feels like the hangman’s noose

The visuals seem more for shock than story development.  Besides loading the movie with lame flashback sequences of the cannibalization of Hannibal’s sister, the movie really just does some crazy death stuff for no reason.  The series Hannibal allows for crazy deaths because of other killer, and Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon also have that luxury.  Hannibal Rising relies on Hannibal’s craziness which doesn’t match the deaths.

Hannibal Rising is a bad and unfortunate entry into the declining Hannibal franchise.  As mentioned however, the television series Hannibal which followed it in 2013 did demonstrate a strong improvement…I just hope Hannibal Rising didn’t leave too sour of a taste in viewers’ mouths to enjoy it.

Related Links:

Manhunter (1986)

Silence of the Lambs (1991)

Hannibal (2001)

Red Dragon (2002)

Hannibal—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Hannibal—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Hannibal—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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