Thursday, April 21, 2011

RED RIDING HOOD - It Lacks Bite & Thrills

RED RIDING HOOD (fantasy thriller)
Cast: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Lukas Haas, Shiloh Fernandez, Michael Shanks, Julie Christie, Virginia Madsen and Max Irons
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: David Leslie Johnson
Time: 100 mins
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 4)

VALERIE AND HER PARENTS: Seyfried, Burke and Madsen

THE INTRO: After the resounding success of the Twilight tales and Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland, it looks like someone has hastily brushed off the narrative dust off this Grimm Brothers' folk tale and 'update' it into a grim fantasy thriller. It's Big Bad Wolf morality spin is turned into a 'where-wolf' whodunit, complete with a cast of young heart-throbs the likes of Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons.

However, this 'reimagination' of a familiar tale is going the way of Beastly, the recent reworking of Beauty And The Beast.

Seyfried, right, with Max Irons

THE PLOT: Set in Daggerhorn, a forest-bound village in a medieval landscape, the plot has Seyfried as Valerie, who lives with her parents (Virginia Madsen and Twilight's Billy Burke) and her sister. She occasionally visits her devoted grandmother (Julie Christie) in a remote hut in the woods. Since young, Valerie has been in love with Peter (Shiloh), a poor woodcutter with whom she goes rabbit-hunting and smooching in the woods. Thus when her parents arrange for her to be married to the wealthy blacksmith Henry (Irons), Valerie finds herself in a quandary.

Things get worse when her sister is attacked by a werewolf - and the village elder, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), says that the lycanthrope is someone among them.

THE REVIEW: Like in Twilight, there is also a love triangle here (among Valerie, Peter and Henry) but director Catherine Hardwicke fails to make it as hot and combative as in the Bella-Edward-Jacob tangle. The problem here may be that the two male actors are so wooden in their performances that they fail to work out any romantic spark. At least in Twilight, the male hunks get to take off their shirt, but there's no such distractions here.

By now, Seyfried (left, with Shiloh) has proven to be a highly expressive actress (especially after
Chloe) but Hardwicke does not give her enough opportunities to expand her talents here. Hardwicke seems to be more interested in the male cast the likes of Shiloh, Irons, Oldman and Billy Burke (whom she directed in Twilight). However, Julie Christie is delectably entertaining as the enigmatic Grandma, while Virginia Madsen provides a touch of soap opera to the proceedings.

At the end of the day, Red Riding Hood lacks the bite on many counts: the script is lame; its werewolf sequences are not scary or even menacing; the sex scene is cut, the romance is tepid and the plot 'twist' is disappointing. Its technical packaging is above par, though.

THE LOWDOWN: Most people will want to see this because of Seyfried, but it is mainly uninspired and unimpressive.


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