“Red Riding Hood”: A Review

Posted on April 19, 2011

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SPOILER ALERT: Hannah gives away the MAJOR PLOT POINT of the film in her review. Look, it’s fine, because it’s really obvious, but just in case you wanted to know, “spoiler alert”.

“From the director of Twilight comes a breathtaking vision of a 700 year old legend”

Very good, film poster! You’ve managed to convey both the most and the least appealing aspects of a movie into one short, sharp(ish) sentence. Twilight? 700-year old legend? Where do I sign up?

OK, I’m reviewing Red Riding Hood the movie, not Red Riding Hood the poster. But come on! Any movie that willingly advertises itself as Twi-LITE (get it? Get it? I thought of it all by myself!!!) must have the same delightful lack of self-awareness which makes Tyra Banks, Tony Abbott, all the Kardashians so great…

But now fr rlz, guys. Little Red Riding Hood as psycho-sexual fairytale… sounds good. The beast without, the beast within, all mixed up with super-Freudian grandmothers, wood-choppers (Trees! Weapons! Phallic imagery!) and lovely blonde Amanda Seyfried wondering around, confused.

Amanda Seyfried…pretty, rite?

But no. This beautiful dream was not to be. The snowy, foresty, villager-ey landscape was nicely done – good on you, set designers, you must have tried to strangle yourself after seeing the idiots you were stuck with – but the plot was unfortunately a bit of a distraction. Let me give you a quick summary:

Valerie (Seyfried) is in love with A, but betrothed to B, who was previously betrothed to V’s sister, but then she died inconveniently, because OOPS she was secretly B’s half-sister which no-one knew except the wolf, somehow, and why does he care well because he’s actually everyone’s DAD, but no-one knows so the whole movie revolves around Red Herrings C, D and E, and oh yeah, a grandma. In amongst this there’s a crazy village orgy where everyone dies, a Salem Witch Hunt and a Bizarre “Let’s Say The Romans Invented It” ELEPHANT TORTURE MACHINE.

Valerie’s “B”, moderately-attractive, lover Henry

…Yeah. If this was all a bit too rushed for you, read up on it here in painstaking detail.

But let’s assume for a moment that this is all OK. My feeling is that if you decide on a ridiculously confusing storyline, you should at least stick with it. Instead, the writers seemed to KNOW that their plot was as complex as it was full of holes, and proceeded to explain everything using elaborate flashbacks – “OH WAIT! SO THE WOLF WAS HOVERING IN THE BACKGROUND JUST OUTSIDE THE CAMERA’S VIEW AND THAT’S WHY THE GRANNY ACCUSED THE BLACKSMITH” – or “SO SHE DUG THE HAND OUT OF THE SNOW AND THEN KILLED THE WOLF/DADDY WITH ITS WITHERED FINGERNAILS.”

Ahh. I get it now. Clarity achieved.

Valerie and Woodcutter looking confused. No wonder.

The makers clearly went to pains to make this every bit as soooper-dooper romantic as Twilight. To its credit, there is almost some actual sex, in which no-one gets beaten up by a vampire. But then, there are also a lot of bits that aren’t to its credit. Like how Amanda Seyfried’s cape inexplicably becomes 10 metres longer every time she is shown running through the snow with the woodchopper. Or how said woodchopper dresses exclusively in black-with-a-touch-of-chest-hair, uncannily like Robert Pattinson in Twilight. Or how… but I don’t really need to go on, do I?

The Incredible Growing Red Cape…

But by far the worst thing about this movie – and I don’t say this lightly – was the cinematography. The camera didn’t stand still once, instead favouring the zoom-and-scan-and-zoom-and-scan school of faking pace. And the music was its willing accomplice. Every five minutes we suffered through “Tense moment in A Flat Minor.” You know the kind. Violins do that annoying jiggling thing, getting more and more frenzied while someone gets closer to a door. The music gets louder, the doorknob twitches… we shift uncomfortably in our seats… who will it be on the other side…. And BOOM. Loud drums. It’s just granny.

Someone’s watching y’all, be careful.

I should probably say something about the actors. Seyfried is her usual, Seyfried-ey self, with luminous features, nice hair and average acting abilities. Julie “needed the money” Christie, as granny, tries very hard to convince us she’s the wolf, until we realise that she isn’t, and that the googly eyes she used the whole time were creepy in their own right, and we should never see anything with her in it ever again. Billy Burke, aka Daddy Seyfried, aka the wolf, looks kind of hopelessly scruffy, but is ultimately as ineffectual in this role as in his earlier adventures as the dad in Twilight. And Shiloh Fernandez, the woodcutter… well. Here’s a little quote from director Catherine Hardwicke, courtesy of Wikipedia:

“Amanda had met Shiloh before and did not like him, so when I told Amanda I was going to bring him in to audition, she made a face. But she tried it, and they hit it off.”

… If by “hit it off” you mean “had zero chemistry, which is fair enough because no-one can have chemistry with a prematurely-botoxed cardboard cut-out.”  Amanda was right the first time, basically.

Oooh, chemistry? No.

I give the movie 2/5 stars. The two stars are for concept, because I’m genuinely sad this movie didn’t work out.  Shirley Barber’s Rainbow Magic was my favourite book as a little girl, and I took my dog-eared copy of Ella Enchanted with me to college when I moved out of home. That’s how much I love fairy-tales, and that’s how sad I am about this movie.

Let’s hope that Beastly, a remake of Beauty and the Beast starring Vanessa Hudgens and Alex Pettyfer – Australian release date pending – will do a better job. But it probably won’t. It has Vanessa Hudgens in it.

Good.

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Posted in: Movies