Catherine Hardwicke returns with yet another film aimed at the female teen market. It’s a little bit better than Twilight but that’s like saying having your legs broken is a little bit better than being kneecapped.
Okay, okay, maybe I am being a bit too harsh here. Red Riding Hood is actually a visually lush variation of the fairy tale and benefits from a pretty decent cast. Amanda Seyfried gets the title role (her character is named Valerie), while her parents are played by Billy Burke and Virginia Madsen. Grandma is played by Julie Christie and there’s an obsessed priest/lycanthrope-killer played fantastically by Gary Oldman. And then we have Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons as the two young men vying for the affections of Valerie. I DID already mention Twilight, didn’t I?
The slim plot revolves around Valerie’s village living in fear of werewolf attacks. When Solomon (Gary Oldman) rolls into town he makes it clear to everyone that they are not after a normal beast and that the wolf could be standing right beside any of them, in human form. Everyone begins to eye each other suspiciously as the wolf attacks continue and, indeed, grow even more ferocious.
A very traditional blend of numerous myths and tales (I was quite impressed by the references dotted throughout to other wolf-centric stories), Red Riding Hood won’t please anyone after something as unique and twisted as Freeway but it will please those wanting something pleasing on the eye that feels fresh even while it utilises the main aspects of the original fairytale given to us a number of centuries ago.
Director Hardwicke can do this stuff in her sleep and she certainly knows how to keep her target audience happy. I am NOT her target audience. The script by David Johnson limps along when the screen lacks the presence of Oldman, Burke, Christie, etc but teenage girls are supposed to lap up the horrible and uninteresting love triangle between Seyfired, Fernandez and Irons. But ARE they lapping it up or have teenage girls actually decided to show that they’re not all sitting in cinemas, wearing pink dresses and dreaming of one day meeting a handsome prince? Red Riding Hood may not have been a flop, and will no doubt get some good sales in the home entertainment market, but it certainly seemed to underperform when considering the budget was just over $40 million. Hmmmmm, maybe Hardwicke actually DID do this one in her sleep.
Red Riding Hood is an okay movie and I was initially impressed by the flurry of werewolf activity. Then things became a bit of a mess – an amalgamation of so-so computer effects and boring teen romance. Thankfully, the older actors were often ready to step onscreen and keep things watchable which meant that, overall, the thing remained quite watchable.
While I haven’t actually been able to get my hands on the Blu-ray at this time I must say that a quick product comparison on numerous websites points to Blu-ray being the disc of choice in this case, being loaded with extras while the DVD only has a few deleted scenes.
DIRECTOR: CATHERINE HARDWICKE
STARS: AMANDA SEYFRIED, SHILOH FERNANDEZ, MAX IRONS, BILLY BURKE, GARY OLDMAN, JULIE CHRISTIE, VIRGINIA MADSEN
RUNTIME: 100 MINS APPROX