Movie Review: Red Riding Hood

The opening scene unfolds and moviegoers can be forgiven for thinking they’re watching Twilight. Catherine Hardwicke, the director of Twilight and now Red Riding Hood, seems to favour the sweeping aerial view of pine trees in godforsaken areas.

And if you thought the Twilight movies are campy, you’re about to be introduced to the new winner of absurdity and boredom.

Red Riding Hood is supposed to be an adult version of the fairytale but it’s more like a Twilight-gone-horribly-wrong movie. The story is loosely based on the children’s fairytale: Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) must figure out which one of the villagers turns into a werewolf every full moon and gobbles up their compatriots. There’s also a spineless love triangle thrown in for good measure. Valerie is in love with the woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) even though her parents have arranged for her to marry rich Henry (Max Irons). Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives at the village to help them find and kill the werewolf with a dark history of his own. Will he be able to rid the village of the big, bad wolf? Does the werewolf chomp the three lead characters and satisfy our hopes? Will the red cloak Valerie wears manage to ever stay the same length each time we see it? Can we ever recover from seeing some of the most awkward and painful-to-watch love scenes?

The actors are wasted in this movie. Amanda Seyfried feels bland. The two male actors Fernandez and Irons take turns to brood and vie for her attention but couldn’t have been more boring than if they tried. Gary Oldman and Julie Christie (who played Valerie’s grandmother) were the saving grace; they did the best under the circumstances. Normally you’d think Billy Burke (Valerie’s father) would shine but he seemed absolutely zoned out. The other characters are suitably corny and add to the cheesy value of the movie.

The ending was just jaw-dropping, but in a way that made me turn to my friend and ask, “What on earth just happened? That doesn’t even make sense!” After seeing many movies adapted from books, I’ve learned not to expect the movie to stay true to the original storyline. And Red Riding Hood was marketed from the beginning as an adult version of the Brothers Grimm original. But the last few scenes were so weird that many would probably question what the writers were thinking.

Catherine Hardwicke is no doubt very visual when she directs with sweeping scenes, beautiful landscapes and zoomed out gushing views. But looks aren’t everything. Watching the movie makes you want to laugh through various scenes. For example, there’s an unintentionally hilarious and cringe-worthy fuzzy dream sequence between Seyfried and Christie featuring the well-known lines of “what big teeth you have” and more.

All the better to make us cringe, my dears.

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