Hannibal Rising


Hannibal Rising

Critics Consensus

Hannibal Rising reduces the horror icon to a collection of dime-store psychological traits.



Total Count: 147


Audience Score

User Ratings: 549,917
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Movie Info

Curious filmgoers looking to get better acquainted with the silver screen's most notorious cannibalistic serial killer are sure to get their fair share of shocks and thrills as director Peter Webber teams with author Thomas Harris to explore the early life of well-read psychopath Hannibal Lecter. Based on author Harris' gruesome novel of the same name, Hannibal Rising travels back in time to World War II-era Lithuania, where an impressionable, well-to-do young boy named Hannibal (Gaspard Ulliel) was forced to watch helplessly as his family was massacred and his young sister suffered a terrifying fate at the hands of desperate, famished soldiers. After seeking temporary shelter at the Soviet orphanage that was once his family's home, Hannibal later flees to Paris in search of his long-lost uncle. Though his uncle has passed away, his uncle's beautiful Japanese widow, Lady Murasaki (Gong Li), warmly accepts the frightened orphan into her home. But even the love and kindness of this generous stranger isn't enough to calm the raging storm that is brewing inside this troubled young boy. Plagued by nightmares and determined to seek vengeance on the murderous war criminals who brutalized his family, the profoundly disturbed but academically gifted Hannibal enrolls in medical school in order to hone the skills that will allow him to exact horrific justice.


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Critic Reviews for Hannibal Rising

All Critics (147) | Top Critics (40) | Fresh (23) | Rotten (124)

  • Thomas Harris is now hoodwinked by his creation's faux pedigree. He's scripted him a ridiculously Eurotrashy upbringing, one so silly, it'll remind you of Dr. Evil's memory-tripping: "Summers in Rangoon, luge lessons..."

    Feb 17, 2007 | Rating: 2/6 | Full Review…
  • Hannibal Rising is basically a Steven Seagal vigilante movie with a hero who eats the people he kills. At least it's ecofriendly.

    Feb 12, 2007 | Full Review…
  • In the finest tradition of TV newsmagazines, Hannibal Lecter's penchant for serial murder turns out to be the result of a traumatic childhood.

    Feb 12, 2007 | Full Review…
  • What this nasty, brutish movie left me feeling was ashamed to be American. First of all: As a folk archetype, a supervillain for our times, this is the best we can come up with? A vaguely Eurotrash schoolboy who eats people's cheeks?

    Feb 9, 2007 | Full Review…

    Dana Stevens

    Top Critic
  • Tilting his elegantly aquiline features downward while hoisting one eyebrow over a dark orb, curling his lips with Grinchian deliberation, he seems to be determined to kill people on the strength of his cologne alone.

    Feb 9, 2007 | Rating: 1/4
  • If they were going to show how he got to be the brilliant, charming, exquisitely cultured, uh, vicious cannibal psychopath -- couldn't they have come up with something more interesting?

    Feb 9, 2007 | Rating: 1.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hannibal Rising

  • Nov 04, 2011
    Ugly and incoherent, Hannibal Rising is the Lecter film that nobody wanted. In this prequel Hannibal Lecter seeks out the Nazi war criminals that murdered his sister. The cast is forgettable and their performances are lifeless. The film tries to make Hannibal into a sympathetic character, but does so in the worst possible way; by making all of the other character more despicable and more repugnant than him. Nothing in Hannibal Rising works, and it provides nothing of value to the Lecter sage.
    Dann M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2011
    I'm starting to notice a bit of a trend. We have these awesome, dark, gritty characters who have served as brooding icons for many years and then we get a backstory that crowbars samurais in, from out of no where and then everything starts to corn up. First it was Batman and now it's Hannibal Lecter. Of course, Hannibal Lecter's an entirely different type of dark, so whereas everyone can get over Batman's cheesy backstory (As overrated as the "Nolan Batman" series is, I have to agree that I can get over that) Lecter's backstory completely dilutes the darkness, brilliance and mystery that made him so chilling. Well, I say that now, but after this film cools-down in my memory, I'm gonna think back to that scene in "Hannibal" where he casually escorts a strapped-down man to a balcony, eviscerates him and then hangs him off of the balcony so his guts will fall out and think differently. Still, at the moment, I'm not really feeling the chill anymore, but that doesn't mean that this is a bad film. It just means that the storytelling is really messy, which it is and in a variety of ways. Of course, that's not the films only flaws, as it also suffers from a lack of immediate development, unengaging points, a few blatant hints to the other films and a pretty corny second half that comes down to a mildly cop-out ending. Getting more into the story, it does deviate from the rest of the Thomas Harris series tremendously. It's certainly not suppose to feel like another edition to the series, but this tone is completely unrecognizable. The tension is down and that greatly contributes to dilution of the darkness behind the franchise. It was the mystery and horror behind Hannibal Lecter that made him so compelling and for them to just make up execuses for him damages his greatest attributes. It's easy to recover from this, but if you kick-off the series with this, then chances are you're going to get very thrown-off. Of course, I'de be lying if I said that I didn't find this story deeply compelling. Although it does kill most of the mystery, this is an extremely fascinating study on how the maniac we all know and - to an extent - love came to be and much credit for that must go to the man lucky enough to don the icon's name and tell his story, but more on him later. Yes, the film is far from flawless, but it does still carry great strengths, including a fine score, fine production designs, some decent visual effects when ever present, as well as great cinematography that really captures the film's grit. Of course, what actually does make this film good, other than the deeply compelling story, character-damaging though, it may be, is leading man Gaspard Ulliel as the iconic Hannibal Lecter. Granted, he's no Anthony Hopkins, but when it comes to Hannibal Lecter, then who is? Still, Ulliel sharply captures many of Lecter's characteristics and eerie atmosphere. Lecter's ticks, expressions and mannerisms are all here and Ulliel is generally very believable as the sociopath. True, it's not as magnificent as it is when Hopkins does it, but that's the point. This young Hannibal doesn't quite have enough experience to be the more subtle and ominous force that he is now, so Ulliel is burdened with the task of making this unstable budding maniac balanced perfectly to where the Hannibal character is believable, not just as sociopath in general, but as someone who could eventually transform into the man we all know now. He succeeds and is one of, if not the main reason why this film is so immersive. Overall, "Hannibal Rising" is a messily-told story that damages much of the mystery behind its icon, but with a gritty look and excellent leading performance by Gaspard Ulliel as everyone's favorite sociopath, it ultimately stands as a compelling and fascinating study on how the iconic Hannibal Lecter came to be.
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • May 03, 2011
    By far, the worst of the series. And though it's not a bad book adaptation, it mainly fails from it's horrible acting without Anthony Hopkins, and it's ability to not thrill, or disturb as much as previous thrillers.
    Bryce I Super Reviewer
  • Feb 10, 2011
    It's hard to ignore the fact that "Hannibal Rising" (both the novel and the film) were made with the best of intentions. Shedding light on the backstory of such an iconic villain is a lofty goal. The film features good acting, clear direction and nice cinematography. But for me, the overall story, while plausible, just does not do anything for me. The biggest reason is that it all makes so much sense. There are no surprises here. The progression of Hannibal Lecter is very straightforward and obvious. For attentive viewers there are nods to the next three films sprinkled throughout this one, which I found a little cheap. In the end, the worst crime "Hannibal Rising" commits is that it's boring. Like I said, everything is so clearly drawn out that all the mystery of Hannibal is taken away and there is nothing left to pull you in.
    Steven C Super Reviewer

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