Review in a Hurry: You know those artsy European coming-of-age movies set during World War II, like Europa, Europa? This is kind of like that, except with a few more beheadings, and everyone in Europe speaking English.

The Bigger Picture: Peter Webber, director of Girl with a Pearl Earring, has a masterful eye for set design and art direction. Unfortunately, that's about as far as it goes in this, the fifth film about charming, flesh-eating serial killer Hannibal Lecter. There's nothing wrong with a slow-paced, atmospheric setup, as long as you can provide some payoff, and Webber can't—maybe he figured The Silence of the Lambs already did that for him?

So here's what you didn't know about the now iconic Lecter (played here by A Very Long Engagement's Gaspard Ulliel): He's Lithuanian, and his sister was killed not by mere Nazis but by backstabbing wannabe Nazis. Then they ate her. Payback's a bitch, or rather, it would be if Webber would bother to indulge us in it. Nobody goes to a Hannibal Lecter movie for the human drama; rather, the viewer hopes at best for a tense thriller—and at the very least expects a sickening gorefest. This movie, while very pretty to look at, mirrors its own central relationship between Hannibal and his Japanese (!) aunt (Gong Li): You keep thinking they're gonna get down and dirty, but they only hint at it.

In the most blatant wink-wink moment, Hannibal dons a samurai mask that resembles the restraints he will one day wear—when he looks more like Anthony Hopkins. A few more of these would have been fun. Perhaps his first sip of Chianti, or the Latin class where he learns the phrase "quid pro quo"? Nope. Webber can't even be bothered to explain why Hannibal changes his boy-band hairstyle to a slicked-back Hopkins version halfway through.

The 180—a Second Opinion: If you wait for the DVD, you might be able to select the French audio track and pretend it actually is an art-house coming-of-age movie. Fool your parents!

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