Hannibal Rising (2007)
One could expect the bad direction and bad acting, but the saddest fact about the completely unnecessary Hannibal Rising is the poor script and story by Thomas Harris. I won't criticize him for selling out any more than I will other writers, but there is little doubt that this story is not representative for Harris' previous books about Hannibal Lecter. The combination of Dino De Laurentiis' greed and the uninspired Harris is not the best of foundations for a presentation of Hannibal's background. Not only does stories which aim to unveil 'the truth behind' more often than not disappoint due to the fact that they remove the ambiguity and enigma which films like The Silence of the Lambs or Hannibal greatly profited from, but such stories also become increasingly more annoying and less interesting when the film in which they are found cannot link the character presented to the character we've come to know. There's little or nothing (except some plagiarized mannerisms) in Webber's film or Ulliel's performance to justify Hannibal Rising as a precursor for Anthony Hopkins' masterful Hannibal Lecter. Ulliel simply hasn't got the required depth, and without much help from Harris' script, his Lecter is flat and unengaging.
In addition to all the mentioned problems (which could be expected), Hannibal Rising is also an item of bad craftsmanship. Peter Webber's direction is muddy and lacks style. He shoots action sequences like a mediocre horror filmmaker, and his ostensibly 'classy' scenes look like scenes out of The Bold and the Beautiful. Add to that a couple of downright horrible performances from Gong Li and Rhys Ifans, who both spoil every line they have. Indeed, Harris' dialogue is lacklustre, but one still should expect actors to be able to speak and act as approximate human beings.
Fortunately, the status of Hannibal Lecter is too strong to be threatened by an insignificant film like Hannibal Rising. And if nothing else, this film should contribute to giving Lecter a rest. After all, Anthony Hopkins' three performances in the role of Hannibal suffice. Surely, this film offers nothing of interest as to his psychological profile, despite its perpetual efforts.