At first it may seem extremely cheesy and predictable, but we have to remember it's based on a fairy tale - one we all know too well. After I reminded myself of that about 10 times, I found myself actually enjoying Red Riding Hood.
If you're looking for an epic fantasy tale with lots of fairy tale magic and mystique, you're not going to find it with this movie. It's less of a fairy tale and more of a whodunnit murder mystery wrapped around a well-known story.
We recently interviewed star Billy Burke and asked him why he thinks so many people are comparing the film to Twilight.
Here's part of his guess: "There’s sweeping shots across the mountains in the trailer and there were some in Twilight, so I think that’s what people are looking at."
I think that about sums it up. Director Catherine Hardwicke also directed the first Twilight film and the cinematography and imagery - and the similarities are uncanny. Different story, similar look and feel.
The film follows Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) who is in the middle of a love triangle with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) and Henry (Max Irons). She longs to be with Peter, but is being forced to marry Henry. After 20 years, the wolf resurfaces and kills Valerie's sister. This starts a tirade of villagers on a mission to kill the wolf, including Valerie's father (Billy Burke). It's not that easy, as the wolf kills more people and sends the entire village into a panic. Enter Father Soloman (Gary Oldman) who claims he can help them kill the wolf. The wolf decides it want Valerie, so they put her in the center of town as a sacrifice.
The movie does a good job of creating suspense for its audience. Who is the wolf? There are many option. Is it Peter, the love of Valerie's life? Henry, the boy she is supposed to marry? Mom who's pushing Valerie into marrying Henry? The drunken father who loves his girls? Or maybe grandma, which is what the movie has you guessing as she has similar eyes to the wolf. The twist at the end isn't extremely predictable, although an astute and highly logical movie-goer might figure it out fairly early.
The performances are not as good as I would have liked. Gary Oldman, a veteran actor, is over zealous and too dramatic in his role of Father Soloman. His character is summoned to help get rid of the wolf, but he offers little help. He's more content with ranting and raving over how ignorant the townspeople are.
Most of the film is centered around Seyfried character, Valerie. She's got the scared damsel in distress look down - no more practicing in the mirror Amanda. But she doesn't come off as a strong willed or self-reliant woman. She is being forced to marry a man she doesn't love, but instead of doing something about it, she simply whines to her actual love, Peter. I would have liked to see a much stronger heroine. But with a bad script, there's only so much she can do.
The literal translation of the fairy tale's famous lines, "Grandma, what big eyes you have," is inevitably put in the film, but the delivery comes off completely wrong and it creates an uncomfortably awkward moment in the movie. The only comedy in the entire film and it wasn't even meant to be funny.
Overall, Red Riding Hood takes itself much too seriously and offers little comic relief, but the angst and love triangle will attract the female audience it's aiming for.