Red Riding Hood,
directed by Catherine Hardwicke
(Warner Bros., 2011)

Red Riding Hood has a cool set and stylish visual effects. Otherwise, it has little to recommend it.

Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) has grown up in a picturesque Old World village where nearly everyone has American accents and plenty of mousse. The local werewolf, who's been content with livestock for the past 20 years, is now eating people -- starting with Valerie's sister. Now, the locals are up in arms and want to slay the beast, and a mercenary priest (Gary Oldman, who needs a new agent) has been summoned -- with his giant brass elephant, no less -- to put it down.

The village, which doesn't look like any place real, is filled with postcard-perfect treehouses, elevated presumably so the werewolf can't get people while they're napping, but oh, maybe they should be more than 3 feet off the ground? Wolves, especially massive wolves like this black beauty, can probably jump that high.

Oh, and Valerie's loved by two hot young bachelors (Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons), each of whom might be the wolf and both of whom want nothing more than to gain access to Valerie's sexy white woolen stockings.

Valerie also has a grandmother (Julie Christie, who once upon a time had higher standards) who lives off by herself in the woods, and she has a brilliant red cloak that expands or shrinks depending on the framing needs of director in any given scene. The cloak has absolutely no useful purpose, besides slashing crimson through the white landscape, because no one in this frozen forest seems to feel the slightest hint of cold.

Director Catherine Hardwicke obviously is trying to bring the look and feel of Twilight (which she also directed, although she wasn't brought back for the sequels, huh...) to a new screen, but for all the stylistic camera angles, the visual excitement of red on white, the fey good looks of Seyfried and, wow, look, it's a big slavering werewolf, Red Riding Hood is boring. And, given the $42 million budget Hardwicke had to play with, that's a damn shame.

review by
Tom Knapp

8 October 2011

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