It is nearly impossible for "Hannibal Rising" to be anything but disappointing. It not only has to live up to one of the greatest horror films ever made ("Silence of the Lambs"), but it also has to top Hannibal Lecter feeding Ray Liota his own brain in the sequel.
This movie, like Hannibal himself, is doomed from the start.
Doomed, not dead — the entire audience knows that Hannibal survives his myriad of trials and tribulations (RE: killing people). This little fact pretty much sucks any suspense out of scenes where Hannibal might die or get caught, especially the climatic battle in which he's shot. We know he has to live, so the scene loses all its push.
In fact, Hannibal Lecter himself loses all of his interest, too. In "Rising," Hannibal is our hero, as he tracks down the men who devoured his sister to survive during WWII. Hannibal has always been fun to watch and to secretly cheer for but when the raving sociopath is the only hero of the film, the character becomes flat and boring.
French actor Gaspard Ulliel, his accent fading in and out, doesn't help either. His eyes show the depth of a puddle and his acting is about as rigid as a two-by-four. Sure his wicked, pale smile is perfect for the role, but anything deeper just isn't there. The charm, wit and sinister portrayal that Anthony Hopkins brought to the character are gone. All that's left is a horror movie monster without the benefit of a hockey mask or metal claws.
On the plus side, director Peter Webber thought he was directing an interesting movie and creates enough atmosphere to make what could of been truly terrible scenes actually creepy and tense. If only he'd had a bit more to work with than the gorgeous Gong Li.
Subtract suspense, interest and great acting from the previous three movies and you get "Hannibal Rising."
But, like I said, it was doomed from the start anyway.