Movie review: Red Riding Hood
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Genre: Action/Adventure, Horror
Opens locally Friday, March 11th, 2011
Run Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated PG-13
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight, Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen)
It's been a rough stretch for movies the past few weeks, as I don't think I've even handed out the mediocre "3 out of 5 star" rating in over a month. This incarnation of "Red Riding Hood" looked like it had promise to be an entertaining and dark spin on the classic fairy tale. But unfortunately, it is just another serving of slop in the long line of winter films being flushed from the studio's system.
The Plot. "Little Red Riding Hood" is a very old tale that most of us know from childhood. A young girl in a red cloak goes off into the woods to grandmother's house. A Big Bad Wolf though, has eaten poor grandmother and disguises himself in her clothes. Red Riding Hood arrives and gives the classic lines, "My what big _____ you have!" referring to first the wolf's hands, then his eyes, then his teeth, before the wolf eats her too (although most versions, she is saved).
In this movie version, Riding Hood is played by the talented and beautiful Amanda Seyfried, and there is a wolf that lives in the forest and terrorizes her small village. Riding Hood's grandmother also plays a part (Julie Christie), but after that the similarities to the fairy tale end, and the comparisons to the movie "Twilight" begin.
Red-tread. In essence, the movie tries to be a teen-friendly, angst-driven, forbidden romance story, much like Twilight. Our heroine, call her Bella, is in love with someone she cannot be with. In Red Riding Hood, she is in love with her childhood friend, but is arranged to marry another d-bag. Just like the Bella, Edward, and Jacob triangle, there is a love-triangle in this movie as well as she finds that her husband-to-be isn't a bad guy at all either.
Bored in tha Hood. It's hard for me to imagine that Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight and Red Riding Hood, doesn't see that she's making a cheap rip-off to her modern classic film (maybe not by critical standards, but Twilight is definitely one of the more popular teen movies of the past decade, if not the most). Poor Hollywood, they are always trying to duplicate successful films, and here Red Riding Hood clones Twilight, although it's like Xeroxing a photo over and over and over and over again. The quality of the copy is just a pale shadow of what was before.
Red Herring. So we predictably get the love triangle, and the squabbling between the two male actors...two of the worst performances in any movie in recent memory. At least they keep their shirts on in this one (sorry ladies). They both brood for the camera, as if they are in a Calvin Kline advertisement and not in a movie. The movie centers around this romance but also is cloaked as a mystery...When Gary Oldman's character arrives in town, he comes with a secret: That the "wolf" that has been terrorizing the town is actually one of them. Oooh scary stuff!
Oldman overacts to proportions that only Al Pacino's character in Gigli could be proud of. To the movie's credit, I wasn't able to predict the ending, as they offer up several characters who may or may not have motive to be the wolf. The problem is that with no real characters and over-the-top self-importance oozing from each frame, nobody really gives a Wolf Blitzer.
Somehow the cinematography even seems uninspired, with ultra-wide shots of the red cloak set against the snowy mountain-side. These visual touches make it all the more metaphoric that they weren't able to pour life and color into the rest of what was on screen.
Bottom Line. So keep riding past this teeny-flopper. It's just a giant egg disguised not in grandma's clothing, but in the trappings of a much better film called Twilight.
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