HANNIBAL RISING is not quite as bad as I expected; in fact, it's not bad as a revenge melodrama. But as a prequel to the other Lecter stories, it's pretty much a complete wash-out.
In case you're interested, at least in some theatres, a trailer for GRINDHOUSE is screening before the movie. It's deliberately scratched up and faded, to make it look more like a trailer for a real grindhouse double bill, but the overall effect is bogus. The movie is starting to feel more and more like a forgery.
To cite one example, the trailer prominently mentions the names and credits of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino. Well, real grindhouse movies never thrived on auteur identification; grindhouse theatres showed exploitation movies that sucked in audiences with their sleazy subject matter. Yet little of the subject matter is on view in the trailer, which barely gives you an idea what the two mini-movies, Rodriguez's PLANET TERROR and Tarantino's DEATH PROOF, are about.
The funny thing about all this is that there are filmmakers today churning out the real equivalent of grindhouse movies; they just end up being shot digitally and being released direct-to-video. A real grindhouse homage would seek out a couple good examples of this kind of stuff and elevate them to a theatrical release under the banner "Rodriguez and Tarantino Present." Oh well, maybe next time...
Just one other point: the one note that seemd spot on was the shots of Rose McGowan with that goofy rifle sticking out of her leg - which is kind of funny, because I had low expectatiosn in this regard. However, the effect looks so bad - so absolutely lame - that it really does seem like something you'd see in a bad grindhouse movie. Despite Rodriquez's avowed intentions, it doesn't look cool at all - which, ironically, makes it completely authentic.
UPDATE: Just one more thing I wanted to mention about HANNIBAL RISING. In the tradition of MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA, Gong Li is cast in the film as a Japanese woman who teaches Lecter about sword-fighting and (inadvertently) revenge. Apparently, Hollywood thinks there are no Japanese actress capable of playing Japanese women on screen. I kept thinking, "Why didn't they get Takako Fuji from THE GRUDGE?" Now that would have been funny: Kayako trains Hannibal Lecter to be a killer.