Monday, March 14, 2011

Review: Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood: Poster | A Constantly Racing MindTwisted Tales and Fractured Fables

I  go into films hoping for the best but, I can usually tell within the first fifteen minutes if the film is going to keep me interested and has potential. I can tell you honestly, that within the first ten minutes I knew I was in trouble with "Red Riding Hood." I was with my wife and she seemed interested, so I kept my seat. Starring Amanda Seyfried ("Letters to Juliet," "Dear John," "Mamma Mia"), who plays our heroine Valerie. Gary Oldman plays the quasi-bad guy as usual in this 42 million dollar mess of a film. Battlestar Galactica's Michael Hogan appears as the medieval village's Reeve (elected land supervisor), in a pretty small and pathetic part. Walking through his part as Valerie's father is Billy Burke ("Twilight" series, "Drive Angry") who is capable of better, isn't. "Red Riding Hood" is just over an hour and a half, and is rated PG 13 for stupidity.


Twisting and fracturing the classic "Le Petit Chaperon rouge" as told by Charles Perrault, who is turning in his grave as I write. "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke seems to be doing what she thinks what fans want, instead of turning something classic into a film with class. Drawing from the familiar tale, Hardwicke takes a liberal literary license with the material and tries to add the teen romance elements to "Red Riding Hood" and fails. Living in a medieval village on the edge of the forest during the winter, we see the superstitious villagers preparing for the full moon. Valerie (Seyfried) wanders around introducing us to the various town characters in somewhat of a haphazard way. In a flashback we see Valerie as an eight year-old girl, and her slightly older boy pal, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). In this scene they are trapping a rabbit in the woods, and showing Valerie's primal nature, she holds the trapped rabbit as she urges Peter to cut the white furry bunny's throat. Nice huh. But they don't show it, instead the camera blurs and we are whipped forward ten years and Valerie's hormones are pumping for Peter who is now a woodsman like her father. I suppose David Johnson ("Orphan"), is alluding to "Peter and the Wolf" in naming the love interest Peter? However, we find that Valerie's parents arranged for her to marry Henry (Max Irons), the Blacksmith's son. Virginia Madsen as Valerie's mother, Suzette was the force behind the marriage arrangement between her former lover's son and her daughter. Henry's father is killed during the classic scene were the villagers with their torches track the wolf into the forest and over the hill and through the dale and into a dark and dank cave.


Red Riding Hood: Amanda Seyfried | A Constantly Racing Mind
Needless to say, Hardwicke and Johnson weave a twisted tale of love, lies, deception, and in the process they drag just about everyone in the village into view as suspects as the werewolf. Even Grandma as played by Julie Christie is a suspect, and I must say she plays a pretty damn good one. If there is any shining light in this dark, cold film, it is Christie's performance as the Grandma who lives in the woods. Now, I am sure the Johnson and Hardwicke probably sat around a lunch table in some posh Hollywood restaurant, and were tossing around ideas and said to each other we need a villain that we can show during act two and part of act three, so we don't have to show who the werewolf is before the very end. Enter Gary Oldman, as Father Solomon, along with his black knights (pun intended), to lead the investigation into whom the werewolf is. Oldman's performance is weak at best, and passionless. While explaining how he killed his wife who he claims was a werewolf, I just don't find his performance believable. Seyfried's performance during her conviction as a witch too is unconvincing and soulless, Max Iron's (Henry) is just there to look good, and that is about it. Shiloh Fernandez's (Peter) is a bit better, but not by much, dressed in black, Fernandez gives a bit more life into his part, as he professes his love for Valerie.

Being that the film is PG-13; the film is tame and lame all the way through. Soulless and passionless also describes both the visual effects and the musical score (see, I can kill two birds with one description) - nothing special or memorable here. The images of the village in the distance, truly look like matte paintings, and are uninspired. Ask me what the music sounds like. Epic? Bold? Heroic? Nah, nothing. I took notes, but for the life of me the score is so unmemorable I can't remember if there was even music. Even the beloved Col. Tigh from Battlestar Galactica, Michael Hogan (the Reeve,) couldn't save this film. "Red Riding Hood" is doomed to end up on the SyFy channel with the tag line A SyFy original motion picture.

Movie Data
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Thriller 
Year:  2011
Staring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Producer(s): Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Davisson Killoran, Julie Yorn
Writer:David Johnson
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 100 minutes
Release Date: 3/11/2011

First published on 3/14/2011 Yahoo Voices