Sunday, 24 April 2011

Red Riding Hood

You may not believe it due to my complete inability to write a sentence shorter than a medium sized paragraph (a skill which annoys my employer to no end) - I am a reader but we will all just have to accept that writing a never ending sentence without even the implementation of basic punctuation - accepting of course the over usage of the dash - which serves no real function but rather allows the rambling to continue on its never ending journey until the full stop is finally deployed.

One of the best things about being a reader as an adult is the occasional foray back to childhood favourites - and I am not talking about the Harry Potters or dare I type it the Twilights of modern literature. I had a great love of fairy tales as a child but it is only as an adult that you realise just how deliciously dark they are - I think this is one of the reasons why I love Pans Labyrinth so much.

When I heard that there was to be a Red Riding Hood movie I was intrigued - that is until I discovered that Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight was to be at the helm.

PLOT: Valerie (Amanda Seyfied) lives in a small forest village which is terrorised by a wolf. Valerie is in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) but is being married off to Henry (Max Irons). This has no relevance whatsoever to the traditional Red Riding Hood plot but as it is now standard practise for all films to have a love triangle it had to be shoehorned in somewhere along the line.
In order to destroy the wolf the village priest sends for Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) who sets about cooking the village idiot, who is the double of Ron Weasley, in a large horse drawn stone elephant in what can only be described as a very failed interrogation attempt.
Henry loves Valerie. Valerie loves Peter. Peter loves to imply he is the wolf so that he can smoulder around all smouldery and misunderstood. The wolf attacks. Grandma gives Valerie a red clock. They all go off to grandmas house for a grand finale. The wolf is destroyed. Jacob finally gets Bella. END PLOT

Plot wise there is only so much you can do with a short fairy story although in fairness Disney did a more than adequate job with Tangled so it can be pulled off when in the right hands. The problem is Red Riding Hood was in the wrong hands.

The cast were fine if nothing remarkable - Amanda Seyfied is living on borrowed time playing a teenager but phoned in her performance with enough charm to scrape through. The two male leads watched Twilight as research for their roles and were essentially nothing more than attractive props.

Gary Oldman popped up in a brilliantly flamboyant entrance sequence and hammed it up quite nicely. He is clearly slumming it until the shooting of the next Batman begins but it is always fun to watch Gary enjoy himself.

The movie looked like an expensive shampoo commercial. I didn’t realise that people in winter during the 1300’s could look so radiant. Virginia Madsen was so glossy and made up she looked as though she was glowing. I guess winter during the time of the Black Plague may not be pleasant to look at but jeez….

The Brothers Grimm came out a few years ago and whilst watching it I couldn’t help but feel that a huge opportunity had been wasted as Terry Gilliam just didn’t have the skill to pull it off. I feel exactly the same way about Red Riding Hood.

Catherine Hardwicke just hasn’t got the imagination to bring a fairy tale to life and what we get is a complete rehash of the most boring love triangle in history. The comparisons to Twilight cannot be helped as these movies are practically the same right down to the cheap werewolf special effects.

I said it with The Brothers Grimm and I feel the same way about Red Riding Hood - an opportunity for a potentially magical film was wasted as the wrong director was at the helm. Guillermo del Toro should just be in charge of all fantasy based films.

When Del Toro’s Pinocchio finally gets made we will be shown properly how to take an well know story and turn it into a decent film.

Red Riding Hood has its faults but I will admit it did hook me in to the extent that I could see this becoming a very guilty pleasure. This also happened with The Brothers Grimm. The mixture of the bad love triangle, the smouldering attractive guy and Gary Oldman may not have been a totally disastrous collaboration after all.

I would give Red Riding Hood a 6/10. It is absolute nonsense but if I spy the dvd on a 3 for 2 offer I may just buy it.

If nothing else I should thank if for making me blow the dust of my Brothers Grimm collection which was due for a reread.


  1. Can't agree with you more, as Miss Seyfried is definitely on borowed time playing these types of characters. I think you have surmised the movie perfectly. It has its charms but it fails at the same time. With me I enjoyed it but I completely forgot it immediatley after I left the theatre, and haven't thought about it since. That about sums it up for me.
    I will always wish it had delivered more because it was visually wonderful and a great premise. It is one of those movies that is a good case study in how to butcher a good idea!

  2. I agree with you - the idea was there for a potentially stunning little movie but it fell flat on its execution.

    The wrong film makers were involved.

  3. Actually a better review than I expected, when I first heard about it I was excited then I saw who was directing and stayed far away....

    2 Snow White non Disney movies are on the horizon so maybe we'll finally get another solid live action fairy tale!

  4. It's worth a look but it would have been so much better if other people had made it