Red Riding Hood (2011)

Are you a fan of Twilight who hates vampires? Do you loathe team Edward so much that you wish there weren't any sparkly skinned people in the movie at all? Do you lie awake at night and dream of a Twilight universe where not only is there one Jacob, but two, or possibly even three Jacobs? If so then the good news is "Red Riding Hood" is the movie for you! The bad news is that the movie itself is a disaster.

Directed by original "Twilight" helmer Catherine Hardwicke, the parallels between that tween-verse wet dream and"Red Riding Hood" are inevitable. Story wise, replace Edward with Shiloh Fernandez and slide Jeremy Irons' son Max into the Taylor Lautner role, mix in doe-eyed Amanda Seyfried as the confused female lead and you have a carbon copy for the interpersonal dynamics surrounding the "Twilight"films.

Starting off with some shots of a snowy forest that could for all intents and purposes be b-roll footage from the first Twilight film, we settle on a medieval village in the middle of said forest. The film looks great, especially when compared to the first "Twilight" film. It's clear that Hardwicke is going to be layering in a lot of red shades and overtones which makes sense since the film is called "RED Riding Hood." Visually the film works, and that's where the compliments end.

Once in the village we meet all the principal characters. Seyfried is engaged to Irons but wants to fuck Fernandez. Oscar Nominee and former Unsolved Mysteries co-host Virginia Madsen as her mother tells her it's okay to marry someone you don't love, after all she did it and it worked out for her. Of course that was after she had a daughter with another guy and never told her husband. Advice that immediately puts her in contention for parent of the year. Billy Burke plays Seyfrieds father, drawing on his experience of raising one overly dramatic, whiny, miserable daughter in "Twilight" he plies his trade in much the same way here. Unfortunately, he doesn't let his daughter sit in her room for three months by herself without even bringing her food or checking to see if shes alright. Maybe he's grown as a father.

Inevitably, a wolf attacks the village. Gary Oldman shows up with a big metal elephant. That's right, a big metal elephant. Apparently it's some sort of Roman torture device. He is here to find the wolf, and just in time it seems as the wolf attacks with more frequency after he arrives. Red herring #1! Sadly Oldman is not the wolf. Other red herrings are halfheartedly presented including Irons (#2), Seyfrieds grandmother (#3) and even the town priest (#4) but the heavy handed script forces Fernandez, as the the rogue who no one but Seyfried likes, as the only logical wolf. Of course he's not, that would make too much sense.

Therein lies the main problem with the film - the script is awful. It makes no sense. Characters make the worst decisions possible just to further the (very) thin story structure. At one point Oldman gets his hand bitten off by the wolf. Totally ripped from his body. The next morning, the hand is still left where it landed, no one even bothered to pick up the poor dudes hand? Everything else was cleaned up but the hand? Come on, I know the movie was written for 13 year olds, but give them some credit. Another scene has Seyfried waking up from a dream about her grandmother. She proceeds to tell her mother that she thinks her grandmother is in danger and is going at once to her house outside the village. In a world where wolf attacks are getting more and more frequent, you would think her mother would at least give her a word of warning about leaving the village by herself. Not in this world. She is just allowed to go without any questions by her mother. Silly.

One other big issue in the film is the snow. Apparently it's winter in the village, but you wouldn't know it other than the thin covering of (obviously fake) snow. Characters still walk around in short sleeves, no one sees their breath when they breathe, no icicles hang from any of the buildings, it's these maddening inconsistencies that ruin films like this.

For those looking for a good period werewolf piece, check out "Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning." It accomplishes everything this film fails at. It has a comprehensive story, great performances and does not feel like a derivative of an already terrible film.

Overall "Red Riding Hood" is a must only for those that fancy themselves "Twilight" completests. May god have mercy on your soul.

* and a half out of 5

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