March 11, 2011
Review - " Red Riding Hood " - (in theaters) By Roland Hansen
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Catherine Hardwicke, who directed the first “Twilight” movie - which set a record for the biggest opening ever by a female
director with nearly $70 million - takes this classic story and turns it into a medieval love triangle.
Hardwicke’s early films, “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown,” vividly conveyed the restlessness of youth. “Red Riding Hood”
sort of hints at that in the character of Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), who’d rather be with the bad boy she loves than the good
guy she’s been arranged to marry. She knows that Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a hunky woodcutter, is wrong for her, but she
longs to run away with him, rather than live a safe, comfortable life with Henry (Max Irons), a hunky blacksmith.
They all live in a tiny village on the edge of a
dark, dangerous forest. Hardwicke depicts the
place in haunted fashion, with scenery and
lighting that often have a misty, ethereal,
almost otherworldly glow. But then the set
design feels super chintzy. The Big Bad Wolf
itself, meanwhile, is rendered with CGI work
that looks so distractingly fake and
disconnected from the rest of the film, it’s hard
to take this creature seriously.
The menfolk think they’ve hunted down the
wolf and killed it. Gary Oldman, who’s perfectly
slimy as a clergyman with questionable ethics,
warns them that they’re wrong, and that they
shouldn’t let their guards down. But, of course,
they do - with a wild, drunken party, no less -
which makes them all even more vulnerable
when the wolf strikes again.
Oldman, as Father Solomon, suggests they shouldn’t waste their time looking for the wolf outside the village, because he (or
she!) lurks among them, hidden in human form. When she first confronts the wolf Valerie takes note that it has human eyes.
She starts to suspect everyone, her friends, relatives and ever her lover. She looks in their eyes and wonders. Hence, “Red
Riding Hood” becomes a whodunit, with plenty of red herrings. Could it be Peter or Henry? Valerie’s mother (Virginia Madsen
as a social climber with a secret) or grandmother (Julie Christie as a bohemian outsider)? Maybe it’s Valerie’s dad (Billy
Burke, who just happens to play Kristen Stewart’s dad in the “Twilight” movies).
it is, in fact, a fairy tale. Often times the screen is filled with soft rays of light creating a golden warmth on the actor’s faces,
as well as the village itself. This is paralleled with harsh whites and greys from a nearly constant snow. The stark contrast
between colors and tone creates a dissonant, artificial world that moves nearly into the fantasy realm. Fairy tales have no
true authors, nor official versions. They are easily pliable and can be reshaped to fit modern themes, conventions or morals.
Only a red cape, a grandmother, a wolf and the woods are necessary to deem a story a retelling of this classic fable. The
stories are simplistic and common enough that they almost feel a part of society’s collective consciousness. Variations
between adaptations only allow them to grow and evolve for new generations. The attempt to move the story of the Little
Red Riding Hood into new territory is a valid and interesting one.
Gary Oldman makes a strong appearance in a film of no-names, Seyfried is a delight as always, and the there are more
than a few semi-satisfying action scenes involving the wolf attacks and a healthy dose of gore. “Red Riding Hood” does trot
out the classic what-big-eyes-you-have routine. It’s a pretty amusing moment.
While I guess technically "Red Riding Hood" is
a horror film it was not particulalry frightening.
The scariest part of the film was Gary Oldman's
evil priest. Still it's an enjoyable film none the
less. Not a mindless teenage love-fest,
although it is sprinkled in here and there and
gives a satisfying end to the picture. A
surprisingly dark and action-centered plot take
the place of melodrama to keep outsiders a
little more vested, the two big name actors do
their part to carry the film, and the mystery and
subsequent reveal were all done well enough.
You will have to walk out at the end but it does
Red Riding Hood
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, billy Burke, Julir
Cristie, and Gary Oldman.
In “Red Riding Hood,” Seyfried plays Valerie, a beautiful young woman
torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider, Peter
(Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the
wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter
are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie’s older
sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest
surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an
uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal
sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by
taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed
werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the
wolf. But Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns
that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them.
As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the
werewolf could be someone she loves. As panic grips the town, Valerie
discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast - one that
inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect…and bait.
“Red Riding Hood” aims not for little girls who want to hear a fairy tale
before they go to sleep at night, but rather for teenage girls who want a
soapy melodrama full of angst and hair product - with some supernatural
flourishes thrown in, just to make things extra sexy.
The wolf does have a soft spot for Valerie -
and who could blame it? She’s gorgeous,
with the contrast of her porcelain skin, big
blue eyes and that striking red hood
against the snowy backdrop. But with
everyone feeling so paranoid and
mistrustful, Valerie’s spiritual connection
with the wolf makes her a suspect. This is
the perfect time for the guys in this love
triangle to step up and prove themselves -
and they’d probably be shirtless more often
if the film didn’t take place in winter.
The film was shot, almost entirely on a set
in Vancouver, Canada and it consistently
attempts to create a constant reminder that