Red Riding Hood - Blu-ray Review

'backgrounded by a made-on-the-cheap Christmas village and the occasional interruption of very obviously out of place techno-punk lite musical interludes'

You can read a lot of things in to the original Red Riding Hood fairy tale but never, so far as I am aware, has anyone attempted to produce a version that deals with critiquing America's involvement with Iraq and Afghanistan. Such is the case with Catherine Hardwicke's version of the tale which sets the wolf up as the lone and isolated aggressor, sees things go South quickly when the noble villagers enter the wolf's lair, questions what sacrifices are allowable, is completely unsure about what help can be provided by the state and finishes things off by concluding that the effects on the children may be great and significant further down the line. For intention alone Hardwicke must be praised.

Sadly, the long-time production designer and director of the first Twilight film still hasn't learned how to properly frame a shot or tell a story. A scene where love interest Henry (Max Irons) provides this version's hood, Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), with a bracelet is so crummily constructed that you half expect both actors to turn their backs on the camera mid line delivery. The story floats around, lacking focus or impetus, backgrounded by a made-on-the-cheap Christmas village and the occasional interruption of very obviously out of place techno-punk lite musical interludes.

The cast aren't helped by the script (Seyfried actually has to say the 'what big eyes you have...' lines, audience groaning at this point is optional) but even given its failings there are weak performances all over the shop. Irons is dreadfully unsure of himself half the time and plain dreadful for the other half whilst Billy Burke doesn't seem to know who he is or where he should be going. Shiloh Fernandez and Gary Oldman give it their best shots but the former is only marginally more dynamic than Irons and the latter, despite some twirls of dialect, still feels as though he's holding back.

Kudos to Hardwicke for the socio-political thematic wrangling, which could have been easy to eschew in favour of a by-the-numbers teen romance with teeth. Still, there's little point in attempting to include it - along with musings on the hereditary nature of family values and traits - when the core storytelling is this obviously below-average.

Look further...

'a pleasant surprise to those going into it expecting just another Twilight replica' - Review Avenue, 3/5


  1. I agree that the movie had a lot of problems and Catherine Hardwicke isn't such a good director, but I can say that the whole wolf situation got me hooked- the revelation at the end surprised me, because I wasn't expecting it and during the film my mind was switching from one character to another!

  2. Glad it kept you interested Aziza! I thought the mystery was handled fairly well but I can't say I was satisfied with the reveal. It felt a bit of an anti-climax and it muddied the waters in terms of the sexual politics, which the source material (and film to an extent) explores.

  3. This film had so much promise and delivered on none of it!! The script as you say isn't great and even Oldman can't get anything out of it.
    I felt so frustrated by this and felt like yelling at the scrreen as I watched it!! Even visually it just doesn't do anything even though I tried damn hard to like that aspect. Fairy tales offer film makers so much scope visually, but I couldn't believe how this looked so miserable as to what it could have done. So much potential was lamely tossed aside for this......lameness!

  4. I liked the idea of the project - as you say, fairy tales should be film-making goldmines - but the very first trailer told me something was up with this. It's just a bit, well... wet.

  5. Remember when Thirteen came out and Catherine Hardwick seemed like she'd be a director to look out for? Man she's gone a long way in the wrong direction since then.

  6. I've never seen THIRTEEN. I only know her as the production designer of THREE KINGS (excellent work) and the director of TWILIGHT (not so excellent work).

  7. This film felt like it was a fairy tale version of Twilight in terms of its tone and the audience it was after. In the end I thought it was disappointing, I figured out who the wolf could have been after half-an-hour and I don't think Hardwicke wringed as much out of the mystery as she could have.

    That soundtrack was a bit baffling as well

  8. The soundtrack was horrendous, a clear case of putting something in place which your audience might head out and purchase afterwards, rather than considering what the film needs aesthetically.