Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
"RED RIDING HOOD"
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Running time: 100 min.
Release date: March 11, 2011
Genre: Drama, Romance, Fantasy, Suspense/Horror and Adaptation
Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Originating in the seventeenth century French folklore and written by Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm (the Brothers Grimm), the story of Little Red Riding Hood has been one of the world's most memorable folktales of childhood, with its haunting journey into the dark woods, tumultuous encounter with the big bad wolf. We can remember one of the tale's most famous saying of, "What Big Eyes You Have!"
The story of Little Red Riding Hood, also known as Little Red Cap, has changed considerably in its history and it is subject to numerous modern adaptations. In this recent visionary interpretation by director Catherine Hardwicke (Twilight and Thirteen), set in a Twilight-ish type mood, Valerie (Amanda Seyfried of Mamma Mia!) is in love with the poor orphaned woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez of Skateland) much to her mother's displeasure. But she is also betrothed to the wealthy blacksmith Henry (Max Irons of Dorian Gray). Unwilling to be parted, the couple have plans to run away together. However, in a horrifying instant, everything changes their hopeful plans.
For ages, the villagers have been terrorized by a vicious monster wolf and they offer sacrifices to him. The wolf appears only at the full moon, much like the werewolves seen in many other films of this nature. When Valerie's older sister is brutally murdered by the wolf, the message is that she is next. Her mother Suzanne and father Cesaire (Virginia Madsen and Billy Burke) along with her grandmother (Julie Christie) try to shelter her from the evil that lurks. The village clergy Father Auguste (Lukas Haas) employs a crazed Father Solomon played by Gary Oldman. This seems to bring more of a witch-hunt to the village rather than a wolf-hunt.
The plot revolves around a teenage love triangle. This pretentious movie that cast many credible actors including the veteran stage and film actress Sada Thompson. However, Red Riding Hood misfires. The filmmaker failed to understand that in medieval times, people living in a forest do not prance around in stylish hairstyles. People who live in a forest wearing light bright color clothes, usually get their clothing soiled. Fantasy films, usually considered a sub-genre, are most likely to overlap with the film genres of science fiction and horror, although they are distinct. These types of films take the audience to netherworld places (other dimensions) where events are unlikely to occur in real life. Well, Red Riding Hood accomplishes this goal, but the film falls miserably in depicting extraordinary supernatural or horror sequenes designed to frighten the audience. Films such as Red Riding Hood should have a combination of fear, horror, and romance to thrill the viewer. Unfortunately, this film does not promote intense excitement, suspense, or a high level of anticipation. I was looking forward to a nerve-wracking suspenseful movie, but I was left watching an irritating whimsical story that failed to engage my attention.
This brings me to the structure of the film. There was a lack of internal congruity. If a writer tries something new other than the typical movie three-act structure, it should be well defined. This was not! The next point of interest is the performances. The actors were not good choices for the roles they played. They did not achieve the goals of the plot or perhaps the plot was not achievable in substance and merit for the actors. In the end, Red Riding Hood balances out as an overall failure.
In my opinion, Red Riding Hood is ponderous, contrived and half-baked.
FILM RATING (D)