Film Review “Red Riding Hood”

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Haas and Gary Oldman
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Rated: PG13
Running time: 1 hours 40 minutes
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 1 out of 5 stars

Valerie (Seyfried) and Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) are young and in love. So much so that they have decided to run away. But before they can comes horrible news: the wolf is back! Even more horrible: they made a movie about it!

Full of every horror cliché’ in the book, and too many unintentionally funny lines, “Red Riding Hood” may set the “re-imagining” of classic fairy tales back centuries. The story as you may remember it concerned a young girl in a red cloak heading off to grandma’s house only to be bothered by a pesky wolf. When she gets to grandma’s house she discovers the wolf in grandma’s bed. “My grandma, what big eyes you have,” exclaims the little girl. Funny stuff. Even funnier when it’s delivered in the film.

In this version, Valerie has been betrothed to Henry (Max Irons), a young man with a look of constant constipation on his face. Grandma (Oscar winner Julie Christie, presumably desperate to make a movie in Canada…I can’t see any other reason why she’d do this) has made Valerie a red cloak for her wedding (guess wearing white wasn’t an option). The wolf has decided to make a meal out of Valerie’s sister and now the town is up in arms. Things aren’t helped by the arrival of Father Solomon (Gary Oldman, in over-the-top “The Professional” mode), who has dealt with werewolves before. He has the town barricaded (the wolf is somebody in town) in hopes of catching it but to no avail. When the blood moon is full, it’s lunch time for wolfie.

Where to begin (and believe me there is plenty of blame to go around)? The script by David Johnson is poorly constructed. This guy spent several films working with Frank Darabont, one of the best writer/directors in Hollywood. I’ll assume he wasn’t taking notes. “Oh my God, you can talk,” Valerie exclaims at one point when confronted by the wolf (he can’t). Oh my God, I’ve wasted almost two hours of my life in this theatre. The cast looks almost embarrassed to be here, especially Christie and Virginia Madsen, who plays Valerie’s mother. The music is overly dramatic and the camera work is terrible. A friend of mine used to refer to “N.Y.P.D. Blue” as being shot by “Shaky the cameraman,” due to its jumpy editing. It looks like Shaky has graduated to feature films.

But the biggest disappointment here is that the film was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, an excellent former production designer (“Tombstone,” Three Kings”) who made such a great directorial debut with “Thirteen.” She also gave us the first “Twilight” film, of which this film is very derivative. Only here it’s more “Twi-LITE.” Believe me, I don’t see an upcoming battle between Team Peter and Team Henry. The visual effects are poorly achieved, with the wolf’s herky-jerky movement only magnified by the aforementioned Shaky.

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