Hannibal Rising (18) <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

This extravagantly terrible movie purports to tell of the early life of Hannibal Lecter, the celebrated psychopath and serial killer we first met in Manhunter (played by Brian Cox) and then in The Silence of The Lambs (played by Anthony Hopkins). If his creator Thomas Harris had left it at that, Lecter could have remained one of the most unfathomably evil creatures in fiction. Instead he diluted the mystery with an absurdly camp sequel, Hannibal, and now this prequel, Hannibal Rising, which he adapts from his own novel.

So, you want to know why young Hannibal turned into a cannibalistic monster? Here it is: Nazi partisans fleeing through Lithuania in the last days of the Second World War stop at the aristocratic home of the Lecter family and, short of food, eat his little sister. That's the prologue; the rest of the movie involves the young man tracking down the murderers.

Director Peter Webber makes a right meal of this schlocky horror show and demeans everything around it, not just Hannibal but the pity of war and the psychology of revenge. Gaspard Ulliel in the title role perfects a sneer of cold command but can't deliver a line-reading worth the name. In this he's well-matched to Gong Li, playing the aunt (and martial-arts whizz) who falls in love with him. Every time they open their mouths the movie drops dead, or would do if there were anything of life in it to begin with.