What do you get when you decide to revamp a fairy tale classic, but cast it with young hotties, cover the lens in Vaseline, and hire the director of the first Twilight film?
You get the new Red Riding Hood, a travesty of glossy, shallow, anachronistic Hollywood at the peak of its capitalistic obsession and disregard for literary classics.
As soon as I saw a glowing, too-healthy Virginia Madsen expressionless and poised over the dead body of her youngest daughter, I knew what I was in for. True, Amanda Seyfried is quickly emerging as a talent to be reckoned with, and she does the best any gifted and eager actor can with meager hack work. She showcased that emerging force in the brutal and brilliant Chloe, alongside Julianne Moore. Seeing this, the only explanation I can think of is she just wanted to explore a new genre.
Well, and there’s always the money aspect as well. Not to leap to cynicism so soon.
I should have paid attention when my friend said he thought it looked a little Twilight-y, without even knowing the director of that film, Catherin Hardwicke, is the hand behind this new version of the children’s fairy tale.
I will not belabor the finer plot points of this film for two reasons, well, three actually:
1) It was so muddled and frenzied that the audience could not lock onto an actual coherent through-line or plot,
2) You’ve seen this plot (girl betrothed to boy, girl doesn’t want boy, girl wants other bad boy, while battling mysterious monster) a million times, and
3) I just don’t care enough.
The optimistic side of me thought it resembled Tim Burton’s revamp of Sleepy Hollow. What price we pay for our optimism.
Whenever I see a film like this, I always think what a wasted opportunity it was. Thousands of artists came together with the intention – I assume – to tell an interesting story and produce a somewhat interesting end product. But you know what they say about assuming.
But also I have to wonder what these people think upon arriving at the big red carpet premiere and seeing the result looming large in front of hundreds of their professional peers. Did they actually think the bad casting, bad acting, bad writing, muddled directing, and fevered editing were something to be proud of? How do they justify an exchange like “I’ll wait for you,” “I knew you’d say that”?
Hardwicke was clearly seeking for the new Robert Pattinson and Taylor Lautner when she cast Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons as the leading men. Nothing about these boys speaks medieval village in the middle of nowhere. I would expect to see them creating drama and getting loaded on “Jershey Shore” or “The O.C.”, shooting their smoldering dark looks and moody reactions toward the bimbos on the beach. Dialogue like “I’m gonna…” anything, does not exactly portray the village-speak of boys from that time or setting. But then by this point in the film it was clear that any attempt at accuracy had been thrown out the window, if it were present at any point early in the production.
When it finally comes to the point of “The Big Reveal,” the film has become so ridiculous and hammy and senseless that the twist and explanation fit into the overall story as much as every other element, in other words, not at all. Nothing about it fits into the jigsaw of the story, it offers the main character and the audience no catharsis or payoff, and means nothing for character or story development. It has the air of being rewritten five or six times until the filmmakers were just exhausted and settled on the latest invented scenario, thrown to the screenwriting winds.
I’m not even going to indulge myself and my own interests by connecting fire dancing scenes, paganism, and the concept of a beast preying on a village to ancient works, legends, and myths (The Golden Bough, etc.). That’s how terrible, shallow, and uninteresting Red Riding Hood was. Any attempt at redeeming aspects of the film by making such intellectual reflections is, in this case, a simple waste of time. Plus it’s insulting to the classics.
I am still puzzled by the fact that giants like Julie Christie and Gary Oldman agreed to star in this. I understand actors simply like to keep working, but there was always something like Just Go With It or Hall Pass that surely would have been more of interest to these actors. And Amanda Seyfried has been so busy these past couple years, she could have used the time it took to shoot this film as a vacation instead. She’s earned it. Better that than forever be associated with this drivel.