Starring Amanda Seyfried, Lukas Hass and Gary Oldman
Directed by Catherine Hardwicke
As we get ready for our respective Saturday nights here in our fair city of Toronto, the choices for the nights entertainment are bountiful in many respects and I know that in one way or another a lot of you will be watching a movie tonight. If you decide on a trip to your local video store this evening, let’s take a look at a recent release that revisits a classic children’s fable. Let’s plug in Red Riding Hood.
Red Riding Hood brings us the story of Valerie (Seyfried), a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She is in love with a brooding outsider Peter, but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry. Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie’s older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. The people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast for years, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. With a hunger for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. Solomon’s arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf takes human form by day and could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. Panic grips the town as Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast, one that draws them together making her a prime suspect.
Director Catherine Hardwicke can certainly shoot a film, the setting along with the faux matte paintings background gave the film a very self-contained feel fitting with the style of the piece. The photography and overall visuals were lush and fantastic giving almost every character a near super natural glow that enveloped the entire film. Hardwicke fashioned a world that looked simply breathtaking and one can only imagine that the inherent gothic nature of the story was intended to look this way. Sadly the script and the dialogue in this entire film sank like a lead balloon, at no point did we feel any tension, romance, terror from the wolf or any emotion what so ever from any of the characters. Little to no effort was spent with any kind of character development, the characters were supposed to be running the gamut of emotion but really weren’t. Hardwicke can paint a pretty picture, but cannot make you interested in anyone in it.
We can’t however blame the lackluster dialogue on the script alone, as it seemed for emphasis was placed on finding an attractive cast rather than ones who could act. Amanda Seyfried is certainly one of the Hollywood ‘it’ girls of the day, and while she photographs well that’s ultimately all she does well. Her male suitors were boring and unmemorable while it was only Gary Oldman as the werewolf hunter Father Soloman who got to vamp it up with some over the top bombast that we haven’t seen from him in quite some time. If the studio and/or casting people had put a little less time into finding attractive people and a little more into finding attractive people who could act, this could have had some potential. This was a case of the script reading better than it was delivered, what Gary Oldman & Julie Christie were doing in this film I’ll never know.
The Blu-Ray was crisp and clear and the special features include the pretty standard making of docs, and behind the scenes featurettes along with a director’s commentary.
Red Riding Hood is passable entertainment and not a horrible option for renting, just be happy you didn’t pay for this in theatres.
2 out of 5 stars.
Red Riding Hood is available at video stores across Toronto, click here for more details.
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