Hannibal Rising (2007)

(In theaters, February 2007) It’s a law of commercial exploitation that every compelling character will be over-exploited until only an easy caricature will be left. In this case, this fourth (or fifth, if you count Manhunter) Hannibal Lecter film achieves the dubious distinction of de-fanging the character until all that’s left is a tiresome standard-issue serial killer movie. This prequel (always a sign of creative desperation) doesn’t teach us much about Lecter (especially if you’ve read the silly Hannibal) , and what little it does is more ridiculous than interesting. After that, it fades into a pretty standard revenge story in which the protagonist likes to eat his victims. The little suspense in the film is quickly overwhelmed by its ridiculousness, and the competent art direction does little to overwhelm the boredom that eventually creeps over the film. I’m already tired of the “serial killer as a hero” theme; such a limp take on the concept does nothing to endear me again to the concept. Hannibal Rising is the kind of film that justifies the existence of reviewers: For goodness’ sake, leave this one on the video store shelves.

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