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You'd be hard pressed to find a better example of a film ruined by
trying to be too many things to too many people than Red Riding Hood,
which opens Friday and, by all rights, should close Saturday.
The most obvious audience Hood hopes to attract is fans of the Twilight film series, snagging the director of the first film, Catherine Hardwicke, and refashioning the Little Red Riding Hood folk tale into, in a remarkably halfhearted way, a love triangle between three extraordinarily uninteresting characters. (If all three had been eaten by the wolf in the first act, we might have been onto something.)
What's weird about Hood, which inexplicably counts Leonardo DiCaprio as one of its producers (stick to swimming in icy water, Leo), is that this romantic angle is not its main thrust. It doesn't have a main thrust.
In fact, for a supposedly sexier take on a classic folk tale, it's in desperate need of thrust in general.
It flits around the idea of being a more adult folk tale but never commits. It throws in a bit of (pretty bad) CGI werewolf attack action from time to time, but it's nowhere near violent or bloody enough (it's PG-13) to interest action or horror fans. It has moments of campy fun, specifically every second Gary Oldman appears as a sinister Cardinal Richelieu-type character, but other scenes are played ridiculously straight.
Perhaps the film's biggest mistake and that's saying something is structuring itself like a Scream film. The Big Bad Wolf is indeed a werewolf, and our sweet little Red (named Valerie, played by Amanda Seyfried) has to figure out which of her fellow villagers turns into a beast when the moon is full. Is it her forbidden love, the dull as dishwater Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), who presumably equates to the hunter of the folk tale? Or is it the man she's been arranged to marry, the somehow even duller Henry (Max Irons)? Or is it one the other remarkably dull villagers? And given how dull Valerie is, who the hell really cares?
On looks alone, Seyfried perhaps is perfectly cast as Red, considering Christina Ricci might be a bit too old for the role. Seyfried's pristine, alabaster skin and enormous eyes give Red just the right look, but every time she opens her mouth you're begging for that werewolf to put her out of our misery.
To be fair, no actor could be expected to excel given the cheesy dialogue and Hardwicke's uninspired direction; solid veterans such as Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie and Lukas Haas struggle to make an impression, with Christie holding up the best. As Red's father, Billy Burke seems more zoned out than James Franco at the Oscars, suggesting he's only here for one more Twilight connection.
Only Oldman acquits himself well, simply because he treats the film as the campfest it should have been from the opening credits. He's acting in an entirely different movie, a Sam Raimi romp like Army of Darkness or Drag Me to Hell, and Red Riding Hood briefly becomes almost fun during Oldman's most animated scenes.
The film doesn't even look that great in a technical sense: The exteriors look fake, all clearly shot on soundstages, and not fake in an intentional "this is a dreamy heightened reality, because this is a folk tale" way. They look fake in a "we really suck at our jobs" way.
Red Riding Hood is pretending to be a darker, more adult take on the folk tale, but it's hardly the first: Neil Jordan mined the territory in 1984 with the R-rated The Company of Wolves, focusing more on sexual metaphors and heavy werewolf action. It wasn't great, but at least it knew what it wanted to be. Red Riding Hood tries to be a little bit of everything, but ultimately it succeeds only in being a tedious mess.
Just returned from a nearly sold out theater and I must say the film
was somewhere between decent and good!
I've read quite a few reviews here and was truly surprised about the supremely negative feedback. "The Grimm brothers would roll in their graves," someone wrote. My response to that is: "Really, would they now?" I believe a bit of research on the subject would do some quite a bit of good. The brothers Grimm -which weren't the original story tellers of 'Rotkaeppchen' as they called it- told folktales, not fairy tales they were the very first tabloid writers and although their stories all had a grain of truth at the very core, the brothers wrote them to feed into peoples believes, superstitions and prejudice in central Europe in the 1800 their tales were often capricious and usually cruel, showing very little moral. It took generations of translations and retelling to soften the originals enough to be considered bedtime stories because the originals would have provoked nightmares in grown man at their time. Does anyone know what the significance is of the name Peter and why he wears black throughout the entire film?? I'd love to read your ideas about that. The film is a nice translation yet another one. And by far closer based on the Grimm brothers vision than the stories we all were told as kids. I did see a bit of parallel to Twilight but only because both, this film and all the Twilight movies were filmed in Vancouver and surely used the same scenery. The Storyline is based on the folktale and (in my opinion) it has been done rather well.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dear Warner Brothers, director Hardwicke, and screenwriter David
Johnson, What exactly was I just subjected to? I was willing to buy
into the potential wrapped within the concept of a dark version of the
Little Red Riding Hood story. And when I saw that Gary Oldman was on
board as a werewolf hunter I naively thought to myself, "OK, this could
work." Then I watched the movie...
Did you blow all the acting budget on Oldman? After rounding up some bigger names who no doubt owed Ms. Hardwicke and/or WB a favor or two, it appears you had to resort to scouting some high school plays with little more than free bologna sandwiches and a credits mention to offer. I'm particularly curious as to what was going on with Billy Burke. Did you agree to give him something stronger than bologna sandwiches? I don't know how else you explain the fact that he spends the entirety of his monotone performance in a complete haze. At least Oldman didn't need the sandwiches as he obviously satiated his appetite with his voracious scene-chewing.
You should be aware that the sub-par acting of the very modern-day looking teenage-ish characters effectively takes the viewer out of the film immediately. It's bad enough that it looks like they shop at The Gap for Medieval Teens and that their hair is perfectly coiffed; was it necessary to give them clunky dialog and awkward "make-out" scenes in addition? It's not all bad though. You might be happy to know that the film did cause a bit of discussion between my wife and me afterward. In the midst of trying to come to an agreement on the most ridiculous scene of the film, we narrowed our choices to the following three:
* The weird 10-15 minute "celebration" scene with the idiotic dancing that obviously served as nothing more than filler.
* The dream sequence featuring all the "my, what big eyes, ears, teeth you have" lines. You did a masterful job at awkwardly forcing this into the film without giving it any real purpose. Kudos.
* The (poorly-rendered CGI) werewolf telepathically speaking to Valerie. If inducing unintentional laughter was your goal then y'all are some goal-achieving sons of guns! I'd be interested in your thoughts on the matter.
In conclusion, I would probably find the film to be quite intense and scary if I were a sheltered 9-year-old girl with no true sense of fear. And the romantic subplot would have hit on all the right angles if... well, if I manage to think of a demographic it would appeal to I'll get back to you.
With the economy as bad as it is, surely you can agree that movie-goers deserve better than this, no? How can you as a business - in good conscious - expect your customers to spend time, gas money, and $10+ a pop on such an inferior product as Red Riding Hood? Have you seen gas prices these days? Come on, the least you can do is offer a "money back guarantee." At one point (correction: it was at about three or four different points), my wife turned to me and said, "This is just stupid." Audience exclamations such as "Well, that was awful!" and "Are you kidding me?" would seem to indicate that you'd be hard-pressed to find many who disagreed with that assessment.
Anyway, back to my original question - what was I subjected to? I said adieu to two hours of my life in order to watch something that doesn't even measure up to a Sy Fy Original! An explanation would be much appreciated.
Sincerely, A frustrated movie-goer
Has it become increasingly difficult to write an ending? Have writers
suddenly forgotten that the climax is the high point of a story? Or is
Hollywood getting lazy? Red Riding Hood is probably the most
frustrating and unsatisfying movie I've been to, and the above reason
is just one of many. While it certainly isn't bad, I haven't finished
feeling so let down since Haneke's "The White Ribbon".
Of course, Hardwicke is a director who is willing take big risks. She did so with Twilight, which was a huge smash with teens everywhere. And she does have a good eye for a shot, and several scenes here show. If had to recommend the movie for one thing alone, it would be for the visuals. The look of the film has a gorgeous, lush and colourful palette that made this film worth seeing on the big screen.
The film's biggest problem aside from being anti-climatic is that the plot is just... a mangled mess. It reads like a really bad fanfiction. If you thought Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland was bad... .wait till you get a load of this movie. We have several plot points that come in and suddenly are left do die, one of which includes Father Solomon played by Gary Oldman, who is made to be a crazy bastard type character, and we don't see anything to prove it. To top it all off, it's rife with clichés, like the obligatory love triangle, the whodunit, damned protagonist.
The actors are a mixed bag. Seyfried does a good job here and has plenty of emotion in her performance. She has plenty of cheesy lines but she does a good job for what she has to work with. Gary Oldman was also great, but that was expected as he always shines with every performance. On the downside, Shiloh Fernandez gives one of the worst performances ever here. He spends the whole movie looking like he wants to punch someone and reads his lines like he's reading them off a paper. And Virginia Madsen just awful here as well, and is over-acting Billy Burke In short Red Riding Hood is a film that has plenty of promise, but sadly doesn't live up to it. It isn't a bad film by any means, but you are most likely to leave disappointed.
I let my friends talk me into seeing this film with them because I
think Amanda Seyfried is adorable and I had high hopes that this
supposedly adult re-imagining of a children's folk tale would be
entertaining in the same aspect of Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow...how
disappointed I was.
The acting was so corny and so ridiculous although I can't help but feel that it's not entirely the fault of the actors, but the director. The dialogue was so incredibly cheesy that at several points throughout the movie, groans were heard throughout the audience. Visually, the film is beautiful but the plot is choppy, the romance scenes are cringe worthy, everything about this film was just painful. Shiloh whatever his name is has a constant sneer/smirk on his face that makes his character so annoying. And the other love interest was just plain dull. Seyfried is a perfect Red Riding Hood but she brings nothing to the film other than her constantly doe eyed, surprised expression.
Do not waste your money on this crap.
I wasn't sure whether I wanted to see this movie. I am not a fan of the
Twilight movies(the first of which Catherine Hardwicke also directed)
and it didn't look like my kind of film. But I saw it for the wonderful
I wasn't expecting much, and I didn't get much. Red Riding Hood(not the fairytale by the way) does try hard to be a lot of things, including introducing a number of horror, fantasy and mystery elements. But due to the sluggish pace and disjointed story structure(that is full of overlong filler, particularly the celebration scene, and the dream sequence was very awkwardly placed) the film fails at pretty much all these elements.
The script is very clunky, underdeveloped and banal as well. A lot of it did not keep my attention and I found myself chuckling into my coke at any unintentionally funny bits. The CGI is quite poor here, with the wolf looking as though it was done in a hurry. Hardwicke's direction never rises above mediocre, the editing is unfocused and frenzied and the three titular characters are incredibly dull and uninteresting with the romantic elements between them poorly written and directed.
The acting doesn't fare much better. Amanda Seyfried is pretty but bland in the title role and shows little or no chemistry with her co-stars, while Max Irons(son of Jeremy), Lukas Haas and Shiloh Fernandez show good looks but awkward line delivery. Virginia Madsen and Billy Burke are both wasted, both over-doing it in a valiant attempt to elevate their weak material(these two actors probably had the worst of the dialogue next to the leads actually). And the climax is little more than a mangled mess and devoid of depth.
Despite these many cons, there are some decent assets. The score is atmospheric enough and the costume and set design are spot on. Plus there are two good performances, Gary Oldman and Julie Christie. Oldman does chew the scenery, but he looks as though he's having a ball, while Christie is very enchanting.
Overall, not terrible, but deeply flawed and over-ambitious. 4/10 Bethany Cox
The plot of Catherine Hardwicke's "Red Riding Hood" revolves around a
series of massacres and a pressing question. The said massacres being
caused by a werewolf and the said question being who the wolf is. But
as I watched it, the question that kept on running through my mind was
not who the wolf was, but rather who cares who the wolf was? This is a
very flabby-footed, self-delusional mess of a movie that succeeds in
making even the great Gary Oldman look as unnatural in his performance
as Steven Seagal.
"Red Riding Hood" suffers from a poorly-constructed screenplay, one that seems was written within a handful of days and not given a single second of revision. The writer, David Johnson, was a production assistant on Frank Darabont's masterpiece "The Shawshank Redemption" but his talents seem to be more focused on polishing up a movie rather than spinning up a story. The plot of "Red Riding Hood" is contrived, flat, and lacking any zest. In fact, even though the denouement has great potential to be a real shocker and (I'll be honest) caught me by surprise, it was handled and executed so sloppily and the writing that summarizes it all up was so flimsy and manipulative, that it registered no impact on me whatsoever.
There are no characters worth caring about and next to nothing in terms of acting. The titular character is played by an up-and-coming starlet by the name of Amanda Seyfried, although if all of her performances are as uncharismatic and dull as this one, I cannot imagine why. In this performance, at least, she did not strike me as being a natural actress. Then again, she has nothing to work with in Mr. Johnson's screenplay. She also has two romantic interests, one played by Max Irons and the other by a wooden-faced Shiloh Fernandez. They are just as boring as their characters. They have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever with Miss Seyfried; I never felt any passion. Even Gary Oldman, so good so many times before, is awful here, hamming up and chewing apart every scene that he is in. His introductory moment, where he explains his experiences with werewolves, is handled by him in a way that is so over-the-top, almost like a really bad vaudeville performance. It's hard to believe that this is the same actor from "The Dark Knight," "The Book of Eli," and the Harry Potter movies.
If there is one good performance at all it is by Julie Christie, who is just as magnetic and wonderful as she was when she graced the screen in David Lean's "Doctor Zhivago" forty-six years ago. She has a powerful star presence and quality that allows her to overcome even the trashy dialogue and nothingness that she was supplied.
Another strike against the movie is the apparent lack of experience by its director, Catherine Hardwicke. She was a production designer before this movie (she designed the wonderful town reconstruction for "Tombstone" in 1993) but her skills with a motion picture camera are next to nothing. She doesn't seem to even know the basics about misc en scene and how to structure a sequence. Not even enough to know that a moment where Mr. Oldman gives a last minute warning to a stubborn old villager about the impending threat of the werewolf that she should have had a reverse angle to show the villager's reaction; instead she chooses to stick to the back of his head. There is no steady flow of images here, with too many medium and long shots and close-ups so claustrophobic that they enter the territory of being loony. One scene that was directed particularly badly was a laughable love moment between Miss Seyfriend and Mr. Fernandez. There is a problem with a romantic moment where the sight of two people making love is neither heart-warming, nor, obviously, erotic.
But Miss Hardwicke did coordinate well with her production designer, for the sets are quite good. And the special effects are decent enough in and of themselves. The werewolf, computer-generated of course, are much better than the cartoony wolves I saw in "Season of the Witch" earlier this year. It's only a shame that that wolf was not on-screen more.
"Red Riding Hood" has a feel of so many medieval melodramas of recent years: half-hearted and flimsy. It is also crippled by that haunting feeling that even the people who made the movie would not even want to see it. It feels like an assignment done by people hopelessly unhappy in their work, who just wanted to get through the dailies so they could go home and relax before getting up to do the same thing again the next day.
I went to the cinema today with two good friends to see this film. I
had seen the trailer and got worked up that this would be a good film.
However, it is not as good as it could have been. Don't get me wrong, I
did enjoy some of the film. Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez, Max
Irons and the excellent Gary Oldman acted brilliantly in the film, and
the effects for the Werewolf were pretty fantastic as well. However,
the rest of the cast let this film down and although it is classed as a
"horror" movie, there is only really one jump-worthy moment. I don't
want to give away the secret of the wolf, but if you listen closely,
you can easily tell who it is...
There is a bit of gore, but if you are into some of the supernatural stuff (especially Twilight, even though I'm not a fan), you should give it a shot and might like this... but horror-lovers, keep well away, you might end up feeling a bit ripped-off...
The youngster Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) lives in the edge of a dark
forest in the small village of Daggerhorn. Valerie uses to break the
rules and is in love with the lumberjack Peter (Shiloh Fernandez);
however, her mother Suzette (Virginia Madsen) has promised her to the
wealthy Henry Lazar (Max Irons).
The villagers have a pact with the wolves, offering pigs and other animals to them in the full moons. When Valerie's older sister Lucie (Alexandria Maillot), who has a crush on Henry, is slaughtered by a wolf, the villagers decide to chase the animal in its lair. However, Henry's father is killed by the wolf, but the animal is murdered and decapitated by The Reeve (Michael Hogan). But when the werewolf hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) arrives in the village, he advises that the werewolf is one of the locals. Now the dwellers have to face another threat.
"Red Riding Hood" is a combination of Little Red Riding Hood and The Crucible and the result is uneven, with good and bad points, but anyway this film is underrated in IMDb. The best this film can offer is certainly the wonderful cinematography. The story and screenplay open the possibility of suspecting of several villagers of being the werewolf but the real one. The poor side is the acting of the histrionic Gary Oldman; the wooden Shiloh Fernandez; and Amanda Seyfried that keeps the same expression of the face along the film. But the film is not as bad as the critics write. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "A Garota da Capa Vermelha" ("The Girl with a Red Cloak")
Amanda Seyfried plays Valerie, a young girl in a village fearful of an
ungodly werewolf that has been terrorizing them for twenty years. Its
latest victim is Valerie's sister. So to solve the mystery of who the
werewolf is, as well as to kill the creature, they seek the help of a
religious priest (Played by Gary Oldman), a man experienced in the
killing of a wolf. One night, the wolf attacks, but Valerie discovers
that... she can talk... to the... wolf...
What? Oh, sorry. I guess I'm as bored summarizing the plot of the movie as I was watching the actual movie.
First of all, Amanda Seyfried makes an attractive fit for the role of Valerie, and the production design of the film is interesting, but that's as close to complimentary as I'm going with this movie.
Director Catherine Hardwicke really has trouble keeping an even sense of rhythm, and the cast is a serious disappointment. Gary Oldman hams up the scene, while Julie Christie is sadly exploited for her willingness to stand around and do nothing. The leading men of Valerie have the personalities of water and sandpaper, while Billy Burke and Virginia Madsen can't make anything out of their roles. They do bad jobs, but it isn't all their fault. I know I'D have trouble trying to do a half decent job with this kind of writing.
The screenplay is awful beyond comprehension. Full of contrivances, unbearable dialogue, and a needless sense of piling on characters, and twists and turns until the final product is a total WTF of lame explanations. I wouldn't be surprised if someone fell asleep watching the movie, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they woke right up. The movie, with it's musical thumps and white noise, is near as loud as a rock concert... and I never could understand why they felt the need to play alt. rock music during a period piece.
In short: One or two bright spots - bland acting + ridiculous screenplay + off pacing = Terrible.
Red Riding Hood = * out of ****
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