RED RIDING HOOD
MOVIE: ** (out of 5)
Amanda Seyfried as VALERIE
Gary Oldman as SOLOMON
Billy Burke as CESAIRE
Shiloh Fernandez as PETER
Max Irons as HENRY
Virginia Madsen as SUZETTE
Lukas Haas as FATEHR AUGUSTE
Julie Christie as GRANDMOTHER
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Studio: Warner Bros.
Available on DVD, Blu-ray and On Demand June 14
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Helmed by “Twilight” director Catherine Hardwicke, “Red Riding Hood” takes a teen lover spin on the popular legend. The story follows Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), whose village is haunted by a werewolf. After Valerie’s sister becomes the wolf’s latest victim, the town calls in the witchfinder known as Solomon (Gary Oldman), who puts the town under martial law. Valerie must learn who is the wolf and discover if it is someone she already knows and loves.
WHAT I LIKED
While I am an outspoken critic against Catherine Hardwicke and not a fan of the “Twilight” series she first brought to life on the big screen, I applaud any chance to bring genre fiction to a wider audience. And this is done with these films. Even though the wolves are quite different in this compared to “Twilight,” at least there’s a renewed interest in the classic monsters.
As silly as this movie can be, I did enjoy some of the performances. First, there’s Amanda Seyfried, who is extremely charming in almost anything she does. Contrary to what I’ve been accused of, I’m not just fascinated with her chestular region. She’s a great actor as well, though she does phone in her performance a bit in this movie. (Though, considering Hardwicke’s track record, I’m likely to blame the director on this one.)
Billy Burke and Julie Christie are also pretty enjoyable to watch in this film. Other actors I like come from the ranks of television, like Michael Shanks and Michael Hogan.
Like a Michael Bay movie, “Red Riding Hood” has some beautiful shots. Sure, it’s extremely reminiscent of “Twilight,” but for painting a pretty picture, it works at times.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
While it’s nice to see renewed interest in genre fiction from a teenage girl standpoint, these new monsters don’t have much bite to them. Sure, there’s a werewolf in here a-killing and a-stalking. But the punches are pulled in any sort of real terror.
The town is needlessly clean, with everyone’s clothes looking like they just came from a booth at a Renaissance Festival. Also, the characters aren’t well developed at all. Hardwicke tries to develop a sense of mystery, but there really is none. You can see where it’s all going from the first act, and it gets kind of dull because of this.
“Red Riding Hood” isn’t terrible. It’s a pretty picture with some fun performances. But it never really grabs the audience.
I checked out “Red Riding Hood” through an iTunes download, which I have done several times before. Now that most Blockbuster stores are decimated and RedBox kiosks run the risk of being empty of new releases, the direct download is quickly becoming the key format for immediate viewing. If it’s not on Netflix Instant, it’s always rentable though iTunes.
As long as you have a high-speed connection, the download doesn’t take too long. Of course, it all depends on the speed of your computer as well. It’s point-and-click buying that should replace brick-and-mortar video stores soon enough.
The key to making the experience work is to be able to play the movie through your television, which is possible with the right cables or a third-party box. The only real drawback is that you lose the functionality of DVDs and Blu-rays. There are no subtitles and no features, which can become a problem for a household like mine, which has a three-year-old running around in the background.
Finally, the encoded look and resolution of the film was comparable to DVDs but with different artifacting (pixelation rather than video grain). Though the average non-movie-nerd won’t notice this as a problem at all.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Twi-hards who want another teen monster movie romance.