Red Riding Hood Review

Published 3 years ago by , Updated March 13th, 2011 at 11:31 am,

Red Riding Hood movie image Red Riding Hood Review

Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews Red Riding Hood

I’m reviewing Red Riding Hood in full admittance that this film is really not my cup of tea. Catherine Hardwicke’s re-envisioning of the classic “Little Red Riding Hood” fairy tale has all the teen soap opera hallmarks that have made The Twilight Saga a worldwide phenomenon.

A flimsy mystery and a few horror movie tropes peppered here and there provide little sustenance for the boys, who will inevitably get dragged along with their wives/girlfriends to the theater to see this film.

In this re-worked version of the classic tale, a small village in the woods has been terrorized for as long as any of the villagers can remember by a ferocious werewolf. The villagers have formed a pact with creature: the beast spares them in exchange for the offering of their best livestock during every full moon. That pact is broken the day the wolf slays a young girl named Lucie, the sister of Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), who is the loveliest girl in the village.

Valerie, as we learn early on, has always been secretly wild and edgy – qualities fostered in her by her best friend/soulmate Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), who Valerie has loved since they were kids. Just one problem: Valerie’s family has arranged for her to marry Henry (Max Irons), the Medieval village equivalent of the captain of the football team. Henry is a good man, just not the man Valerie wants, a dilemma once faced by her mother (Virginia Madsen).

The threads of Valerie’s love life and the town’s wolf woes intertwine when the infamous Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) comes to town to slay the beast. Unlike the gullible villagers, Solomon knows all too well that werewolves hide in plain sight, in human form, amongst their neighbors, family and friends. Instead of scouring the woods to uncover the beast, Solomon begins to take a hard (read: ruthless) look into the lives of the villagers themselves, quickly exposing secrets long buried and casting the shadow of suspicion on everyone that Valerie knows and loves.

Red Riding Hood Gary Oldman Amanda Seyfried Red Riding Hood Review

With Red Riding Hood, Catherine Hardwicke has created a world that feels more like an well-funded stage play rather than a motion picture. A lot of that stage play aesthetic stems from the huge set piece that serves as the village; with its artificial and hollow feel, and rotating series of  shooting locations, the village truly does function as one big stage upon which different acts and scenes of a play unfold. That’s not to say this is a terrible thing: the theatrical aesthetic actually goes hand-in-hand with the soap opera story that unfolds, which I would peg as an effective combination, considering the target demographic of this movie.

As a director Hardwicke certainly knows what kind of world she’s attempting to create, and executes her vision effectively enough. However, for casual movie goers and/or film snobs alike, having an electronica soundtrack playing over what is ostensibly a mashup of soap opera and horror movie tropes makes for a “unique” vision, to say the least. The CGI effects used for the werewolf are a joke by today’s standards – but then, lackluster skill with directing action and/or F/X-heavy sequences is one reason why The Twilight Saga tapped new directors for its sequels. Hardwicke’s talent for production design really is her – and the film’s – greatest strength.

The script was written by David Johnson, whose only other screenplay credit is the 2009 film Orphan, a solid thriller with a somewhat original twist to it. Red Riding Hood isn’t meant to be a deep or mind-boggling tale, and Johnson mixes the elements of the story – schmaltzy romance, drama, mystery – well enough to keep both sides of the gender line relatively occupied. Some people may guess the mystery early on, but the film does a good job of keeping you somewhat off balance as far as who the wolf might be. While the romance stuff is fairly syrupy, the central characters in the love triangle are all developed enough to have light shades of depth, which was nice to see.

Red Riding Hood movie trailer 2 Red Riding Hood Review

Amanda Seyfried is quickly emerging as one of the more talented young actresses in Hollywood – one who shines through no matter what role she’s playing or the overall quality of the film. Sure, Red Riding Hood is basically a remixed version of the Twilight premise, but Seyfriend’s Valerie is leagues above Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan, who has always seemed like a somewhat outdated representation of a modern young woman – one whose entire existence seems to revolve around boys’ affections toward her. Like Bella, Valerie has two suitors she must choose between – but she’s a girl who knows who she is, what she wants, and she’s nobody’s damsel in distress. Seyfried plays the character as a smart, strong and independent-minded young lady; if I had a young daughter, I would definitely want her to be more Valerie than Bella.

The cast of supporting characters is pretty well balanced. Gary Oldman is a standout performer no matter what he’s in, and Father Solomon is about the most interesting in this film, hands down. Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons are sure to be sufficient eye-candy for the girls as Valerie’s rival suitors (your standard bad boy and good boy caricatures, respectively), and relatively speaking, they’re both better actors than, say, Taylor Lautner (not that that means much…). Veteran actresses Julie Christie and Virginia Madsen add some subtle femme-power energy to the proceedings, while character actors like Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica) and Twilight alumni Billy Burke sufficiently nail down what little they’re given to work with.

In the end (as stated clearly at the start of this review), Red Riding Hood is a work that sits on the line between being a competent, above-average soap opera, and a cheesy, below-average feature fiilm. Those who go into the movie with a firm love of those daytime TV novellas will probably be satisfied; if you’re not in that camp, then you better think twice before you pay the cost of admission.

SIDE NOTE: The film has a few steamy scenes of some heavy kissing, but really it’s more sensual than sexual. Parents of teenage girls need not be concerned.

Watch the trailer for Red Riding Hood below:

[poll id="132"]

Our Rating:

2 out of 5
(Okay)

TAGS: red riding hood

29 Comments

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  1. tsk tsk: “‘Red Riding Hood’ is a soapy supernatural teen drama that bares a close resemblance to the popular ‘Twilight Saga’ franchise”

    need coffee before publishing ;-)
    (should read “bears”, not “bares”)

    As to the rest of the article, I’ve suspected this much since I first saw the advertising for this film.

    However your mention of “theatrical” elements piques my curiosity.

    Is the acting of “Twilight” caliber? I honestly think the emo pouting and affected brooding in the Twilight films are only one of that series’ most serious flaws. (God only knows, the type of ideals regarding the nature of “love” in Twilight should be enough to make any parent of a teenaged girl run screaming).

    Your only giving it 2 stars makes me wonder if I shouldn’t just wait for this as a rental.

    • Dang it, Mike – you saw that before I could catch it… 8)

      Fixed.

      Vic

    • You did,however,miss “…and Twilight alumni Billy Burke…” Alumnus is the singular of alumni. It may seem pedantic to mention, but a journalist’s credibility hangs on the details of language.

  2. Kofi, it kind of sounds like you enjoyed this movie a little bit more than the 2 stars you gave it, just me?

    • I could go one half star more, tops.

      • Yeah that’s pretty much what it sounded like.

  3. I heard Charlie Sheen is the wolf.

  4. Amanda Seyfried & Gary Oldman, 2 reasons I’ll rent it.

  5. Thanks for the review. Amanda Seyfried is everywhere.

    I watched her on this film called Chloe last weekend. She had solid performance.

    Heck the film itself was enjoyable.

  6. “Sure, Red Riding Hood is basically a remixed version of the Twilight premise, but Seyfriend’s Valerie is leagues above Kristen Stewart’s Bella Swan, who has always seemed like a somewhat outdated representation of a modern young woman — one whose entire existence seems to revolve around boys affections toward her.”

    Stephanie Meyers wrote it that way. It’d be nice if you could review a movie without bashing another actress.

  7. The bright, shiny, spotless clothes the characters are wearing makes me think of that awful Western “Gang of Roses.”

    But at least, “Gang of Roses” had an excuse — it was rather low budget, and, ironically, it costs a lot of money to make clothing/costumes look old and weathered. So, in “Roses,” it looks like the female leads just walked out of the country-western leather store at the mall, bearing all sorts of fancy-looking leather jackets covered with shiny, silver studs, and not one spot of dirt or wear and tear on their outfits.

    But, obviously, “Twili–” …. err, I mean “Red Riding Hood” had a much bigger budget, so it’s just plain ridiculous that they have these supposedly poor villagers all wearing such brand-new looking clothing. It must have been intentional and that’s what make it so bad.

    • Yep, it’s the stuff of fairy tales.

  8. First, great review. I think it will be a worthy rental.

    Second:
    “The film has a few steamy scenes of some heavy kissing, but really it’s more sensual than sexual. Parents of teenage girls need not be concerned.”

    Lol… If you happen to be a guy watching this…

    • It should say: “Parents of teen boys need not be concerned…”

  9. Great review. Sounds like a renter.

  10. I thought it was a very good movie. The acting was good for the most part. Peter and Valerie’s dad weren’t convincing to me. IMO, the love story was good, and wasn’t dumb or boring like it was with Twilight.

  11. I enjoyed this film quite a bit. I see most of the voting so far has most giving it between 3 and 5 stars.
    The film itself isn’t anything grounbreaking but if we’re going to use Twilight as a measuring stick then this is an academy award contender.
    And as far as love stories go I found it more enjoyable than the recent Adjustment Bureau

  12. Bit of a let down it seems. I never expected this to be great by any means I did expect a solid film though something actually worth one or two viewing. I expected more of a dark gritty Red Riding Hood than a Twilighted one. Sad to see the way they took this when it could of been better. Of course I’ll still see it because that’s what I do, but now I know to wait as long as I can put it off. Also wait until I’m drunk so I don’t have to realize exactly how much I hate it.

  13. So….
    How does the werewolf/transformation look…?
    A movie about werewolf(s) but no mention of the fx…is it that bad?

  14. LOL Did we always have the option to vote “0 stars”?
    Nice.

  15. One star only. Thanks to Gary Oldman.

  16. Not bad, not great! Was dragged into it by my ex-girlfriend. But, I was never bored and enjoyed Gary Oldman chewing up scenes and thought Amanda Seyfreid was good as well. The wolf was fairly poorly rendered (CGI), but I still found him sufficiently scary to entertain me. If it was on cable I’d definitely watch it again.

    • Was she your Ex-Girlfriend BEFORE the movie?

  17. I give it three stars; one each for Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, and Julie Christie. Max Irons would have gotten a star if his dialogue (and hair) weren’t about seven hundred years out of place. As it stands, he has plenty of time to build a solid career. Shiloh Fernandez never stood a chance, though. As for Billy Burke … well, I can’t really say much for him because the movie never gave him much screen time, all things considered.

  18. I saw this movie tonight, actually. Just walked in the door! I liked it quite a bit! I hated Twilight, and I really saw no similarities. It’s a shame, any movie with a love triangle or mythical creature will be compared to Twilight, even though hundreds of movies before had the same plot line.

    Anyway, I would recommend it. It is very dark, and while the acting could use a little polishing here and there, I would go see it again. There were some beautiful nature and mountain shots, good bits of suspense and who-done-it moments. All in all, I’d say it was a really good movie.

  19. Loved the movie! I think the only resemblence to twilight is because of the way the movie is shot and the scenery.. Other then that I found the acting to be a million times better then miss stewarts sad attempt at calling herself an actress. There was a great cast and I loved pretty much every part of it from the romance to the suspense of knowing who the werewolf really was!

  20. i almost find the setting of the story similar to the setting of Night’s THE VILLAGE, but in a mucuh more modern way. Never could you say this film measures up to that cinematography, but the storyline is well played. Amanda Seyfried does a beautiful job as this character, and is quite the actress. Of course m. night is unmatched, the storyline portrays some of the same characteristics.

  21. I never thought of watching this movie till I get so curious.. and glad I did went see the movie. Every single bit of time I was seated in the theater was so worth it. I recommend this movie and giving it 10/10. Gets?

  22. How could you forget to mention that Gary Oldman kills half the villagers with a mixture of his crazy Asian and African bodyguards, giant elephant oven, and Salem-witch-trials-scare-tactics in his efforts to rid the place of a murderous beast? Or that Peter (who’s not the wolf) is dressed like the ridiculous love child of Fable and Fall Out Boy? Or that there is a raucous medieval party for some reason, where Bella Swan’s dad gets black out drunk and Valerie does a sexy dance with her very confused girl friend to make her hipster-woodcutting love interest jealous? Or that the entire movie is spent trying to work out which person in an entire village of brown-eyed people has brown eyes just like the wolf? Unfortunately, process of elimination won’t work on anyone but Little Red herself, so this painful affair is dragged out for as long as it takes the wolf to actually introduce himself. I could go on forever…

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