Sunday, March 20, 2011

MOVIE IN REVIEW: Red Riding Hood

Not even the combined beauty and talent of Amanda Seyfried, Max Irons, and Gary Oldman could save Catherine Hardwicke's recent adaptation of Red Riding Hood.

Perhaps it is because of my irascible temper already piqued by Hardwicke's unforgivable Twilight film that I find it difficult to find any saving grace in this re-telling of a classic beloved by many. To be fair to Hardwicke though, Stephenie Meyer's novels didn't really provide too good a material for her to work with anyways. But what then is her excuse for Red Riding Hood?

Much to the chagrin of fairy tale and folklore fans the world over, Hardwicke's take on the movie has become less of a fantastic world and more on the world of hormonal and randy teenagers everywhere. While the original tale stands as an allegory to sexual awakenings and how it affects young ones, and there are certain allusions to that in every cover, Hardwicke crosses the boundaries and removes all form of subtlety in the film.

Ethereal beauty Amanda Seyfriend stars as Valerie, the young woman in the center of this tale. She finds herself torn between her first love, the bad boy Peter, and the man she is to wed, all around good guy Henry. Despite the range of acting in Seyfried, proven by her impressive resume, Hardwicke must have a thing for monotonous and bland women. She must have mistaken boring for resilience. All darling Amanda does is open her already remarkably humongous doe eyes and release a quick exhale of breath. Well, it is one up from Kristen Stewart's blank faces. Nevertheless, apart from looking gorgeous and "tying" the film together, she really doesn't do much. That is, if you don't count her frolicking in the hay with Peter or leading Henry on as much.

The supporting cast, including her two leading men, as well as the always fabulous Gary Oldman, don't really do anything as well. Shiloh Fernandez's Peter and Max Irons's Henry have roughly one line each repeated all throughout the movie. Gary Oldman's Father Solomon randomly bursts into screams and sermons worthy of a homeless New Yorker screaming "The end is nigh" present in every Armageddon-centered film, while all the rest fade into the background.

Presented as a whodunit, Hardwicke employs tricks in every cliched mystery handbook. The camera suddenly zooms in on Seyfried's face, as if to sneak up on her as she gives one of her numerous "gasps!", the lighting, the location, hell, even the vacantly shocked expressions of everyone in the film.

While I can see why people compare this to Twilight, because there are certain elements that surround both films, I think the blame at this point rests solely on Madame Director's shoulders. The story is very different, and I think had it been presented differently, this could have gone amazingly well. However, they didn't and the end result was one of the most droll films to have ever graced cinema. Save your money. Please.

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