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3.8 out of 5 stars
Red Riding Hood [Blu-ray]
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255 of 271 people found the following review helpful
Let me start by praising the look of this film, especially its nightmare fairy tale wilderness village and Peter Jackson-inspired sweeping landscapes. The designers create a lush, evocative screen image that captures the imagination without overpowering the actors. Without doubt, I haven't seen a better looking film than this one in quite some time. Even the costume and makeup people keep the actors looking good without forcing an artificial glamour.

I'd rather start that way because I refuse to become one of those critics who savages somebody else's film because it doesn't suit my tastes. I'm not among this film's target audience, and chances are, if you've fallen in love more than once or watched more than seven horror films, you aren't, either. This film reaches out for people who enjoy uncomplicated romances and have a very low scare threshold.

Director Catherine Hardwicke knows her young, wide-eyed audience, and delivers what they expect from a romantic fantasy with horror overtones. Pretty, willful Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) embodies 21st Century America in medieval Bavaria. She loves Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), a woodcutter who broods around the forest like an unemployed Robert Pattinson impersonator. But Valerie's mom (Virginia Madsen) thinks she'd enjoy a better life with the prosperous but uninspiring blacksmith, Henry (Max Irons).

But a werewolf besieges their village. When the wolf slaughters Valerie's sister, village life unstitches. Unscrupulous Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) starts hunting witches, while Valerie discovers her uncanny connection to the monster. Is Peter or Henry the wolf? Or gentle Father Auguste (Lukas Haas), simpleton Claude (Cole Heppell), or Valerie's reclusive grandmother (Julie Christie)? Veteran filmgoers know the answer is "none of the above," but the revelation genuinely surprised me.

This film accomplishes all its goals, and accomplishes them stylishly to boot. If it didn't reward an adolescent view of love and worked as hard on creeping dread and psychological horror as it does on "boo" moments, it would achieve possible greatness. Unfortunately, it pitches to its audience's expectations, and no higher. For what it is, Hardwicke presents a pretty good film. You decide if "pretty good" is good enough.
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129 of 140 people found the following review helpful
on March 16, 2011
Red Riding Hood is a re-imagining of the fairy tale. The film is very atmospheric in creating a medieval village, and the sense of doom is palpable. The lead character, Valerie is in love with an orphaned woodcutter named Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) but it has been arranged that she will marry the far richer Henry (Max Irons) who is a blacksmith. The only problem is that the village is terrorized by a werewolf and has been for more than a generation offering up a sacrifice when the moon is full. When the werewolf kills Valerie's sister, the village is galvanized into hunting down the creature.

Into this mix comes a werewolf hunter named Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) who is ruthless in his methods to find and destroy the werewolf. There are limitless possibilities as to who the werewolf could be and Solomon becomes more of a curse to the village than the werewolf does. The filmmakers created a great look for the village and the film was well cast. Gary Oldman is perfect as Solomon, and it is refreshing to see him play a villain again. Amanda Seyfried is nicely cast as the lead character as are her love interests. Virginia Madsen was also excellent as Valerie's mother, who has her own dark secret. It was also good to see Julie Christie in a film as Valerie's somewhat sinister grandmother.

The movie teeters toward a B-movie romance (one wonders if Valerie will suddenly declare her love for Henry as he proves himself very noble-hearted) but the mystery and horror of the werewolf kept my interest in the story. Although Red Riding Hood may seem like "Twilight for werewolves," I liked the story and the overall feel of mystery. Red Riding Hood is a film that I would like to see again maybe only for the marvelous visual realization of the village, grandma's, lonely but cozy cottage and the over-the-top performance of Gary Oldman.
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84 of 100 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2011
I just came back from the theater and I loved it! Cinematography, sets, all fantastic. Storyline unique in that it blends the traditional fairytale, a few elements from the earlier and wonderful "The Company of Wolves", and brings it to a more mature audience with a twist. Who done it? Who is the big bad wolf? The movie is fast paced, intricate, cleverly drawing on relationships both new and old, thwarted love, etc. all in a picturesque Grimm-like village and cottages that you are just dying to live in! Well, if you stay in this neighbourhood, that might be arranged! Far from predictable you will be finding yourself switching gears over a dozen times trying to figure it out. And the ending? My what sharp teeth you have! Enjoy as I did! A must see for any fan of fairytales and fantasy movies, or if you are a fan of Tim Burton, for it isn't too far from his style! Now I can't wait for the DVD and hope a soundtrack comes. I love the music from the festival!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on August 6, 2011
The trailer tries really hard to make this look like Twilight meets Little Red Riding Hood. They crammed every romantic scene into the preview. It's quite misleading, and not at all what I was hoping for. I'm glad I didn't see this prior to watching, or I wouldn't have rented it. It wasn't great, but it certainly wasn't as lame as the preview.

While beautiful to look at, the script is lackluster at best. The story attempts to squeeze in much of the original, famous, Brother's Grimm version of the tale, but it just doesn't gel with the added plot concerning romance, family secrets, witches and werewolves.

Amanda Seyfried makes the best of a dull role, but Gary Oldman's over-the-top performance ruins every scene in which he appears - which, unfortunately, takes up more than half of the film. If I weren't a sucker for dark fairy tales, I would give this film a paltry two star rating. Alas, I did find some enjoyment in the story's mysterious elements, and the cinematography was breathtaking at times.

I think girly tweens are most likely the best audience for this film, and considering the lack of profanity, the comparatively non-gruesome violence, and no nudity make out session, this is a film adults can let the well-adjusted, modern, twelve and up set watch with nary a worry.

The comparisons to the Twilight franchise are silly. Valerie (Little Red Riding Hood) shows common sense when it comes to boys and the dangers they may represent, and is willing to sacrifice herself in order to protect her family and friends, quite unlike Bella and her sparkly, stalker, vampire boyfriend. Red Riding Hood is hardly a feminist statement piece, but it is refreshing to watch a fantasy film, aimed at tweens, whose leading lady doesn't discard her moral compass once a cute boy shows up. Three stars.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2011
A glance at the ratings show that people are all over the board with this one. I found it to be dull and rather amateur. Most of the dialogue is so poor that the acting comes across contrived. None of the lead actors inspired any emotion into their characters until, perhaps, the final scenes of the movie, which contains the only real drama engaging the audience. Some will no doubt like Red Riding Hood, but it pales in comparison to Blood & Chocolate or Van Helsing.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2011
As someone who is enchanted by myth and fairytale for what it tells us about how we see ourselves I thoroughly enjoyed this visual adaptation of a classic story. I felt that it managed to remain true to the original themes of the Riding Hood tales and was pleased with the heroine's final destiny. Although it may bear a certain striking resemblance to the Twilight movies it certainly provides us with a much more complex and, quite frankly, courageous female lead. If you are looking for excitement, action, and terror then this is not the movie for you. However, if you are able to appreciate the nuance of the original tale in this striking visual format I would highly recommend it.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
A young woman, growing up in a small town where everybody seems to think they know what's best for her, is just becoming aware of her own sexuality and knows that something more is out there. It turns out, there is something more out there, but it's a bit scary, and if she goes out on her own she might get hurt.

That's the basic scenario that the original fairy tale is designed to address - and in some ways the moral remains timelessly relevant - that while it's understandable that a young woman would be curious what lies out there in the woods, there's a real risk that what she'll find is the big bad wolf (whether he comes in sheep's clothing as the "nice" guy who makes promises but abandons her when she gets pregnant, or whether he's the even more dangerous type who never bothers to pretend being nice).

This modern version - directed by Catherine Hardwicke from the first Twilight film - tweaks the original story, but stays true to its basic structure (even as it tweaks the moral of the story slightly to suggest that while the danger is real, empowered young women can still find a way to become independent and find love). What's clear from this film is that she's not all that interested in creating timeless tales that transcend the demands of the teen audience she hopes will follow her from Twilight. The young crush, the goth sensibilities, the daddy issues, the dark romance, are all tailor-made for today's teenagers. I guess that's fine - but it meant that while my daughters liked this I really couldn't connect as I sometimes can with films of this sort. I couldn't connect with the Twilight films either.

I will say that Hardwicke has a very keen eye for visual composition - and does create the aura of a fairy tale here. She really knows what to do with a red cape. I'm impressed that she seems to manage much of the look of the film, as she did in Twilight, in camera, by the way she and her team shoot and light scenes and through the costumes, rather than through digital enhancement (although I'm sure they spent quite a bit of time on digital postprocessing).

For all the bad rap this film got from those who really wanted it to go much darker or bigger (they should try The Company of Wolves, which I consider to be a better and more timeless version than this one, that's also quite scary) - this wasn't a bad retelling of the original story. It's not bad, and teenagers are likely to like it, and for those who don't love it it's still fun to look at.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
RED RIDING HOOD is a re-imagining of the classic fairytale. The problem is that they've turned it into a soft-core teen romance, and since I haven't been a teen for 2 or 3 decades, I found the love scenes disturbing. Can you say, "Peeping Tom?" I knew that you could!

So be aware that RED RIDING HOOD is a period teen romance with supernatural creatures, none of whom sparkle. Beyond that, it's mildly entertaining with okay performances by Gary Oldman and Julie Christie. They're only okay, which is a shame, but the movie isn't about them. Neither is it about Lukas Haas (didn't he die of an overdose of Pop-Rocks in Vietnam?) who has an odd part to play. All of the acting is serviceable but there's nothing exciting about it. Again, it's all about the teens and even though they're pretty, they're nothing to write home about.

Oh, I forgot to mention the plot of RED RIDING HOOD. Here goes: A teeny-weenie medieval village is terrorized by a werewolf. Gary Oldman is a sort of Grand Inquisitor cum Van Helsing who arrives to save the day. Madcap mayhem (and teen love) ensue.

I gave RED RIDING HOOD a 3 because I recognize that I am not the target demographic. If you're a veteran of more than 25 summers, you might want to steer clear of this one. Peeping Toms, on the other hand...
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2011
Where are the writers? Hunky boyfriend and a daddy whose - well, I won't give it away. But my god, have we forgotten how to write a movie. The look of this film was impressive. The cinematography is gorgeous, but the script was Missing In Action. Why? With such impressive visuals the dialogue is just silly and the bastardization of the original fairy tale is unfortunate. Well, maybe this film can serve as a cautionary tale of what not to do with a script and how not to retell a fairytale.

2 Stars for the Cinematography
Minus Three stars for the script
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 22, 2011
fell asleep three times watching it... predictable story... bad acting. cant recommend it. like they tried too hard to make it "adult", and i hated the female lead.
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