Written by: David Leslie Johnson
Directed by: Catherine Hardwicke
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Max Irons, Shiloh Fernandez, Billy Burke, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas, Adrian Holmes, Michael Hogan, Michael Shanks, and Julie Christie
I saw this movie for one reason...
I wish I could've seen the movie Gary Oldman thought he was acting in because I'm pretty sure it was both fun and terrifying. The movie I actually saw, however, was neither of those things. It's sad because a reworking of this classic fairytale (my childhood favorite, by the way) had so much potential.
This thing had problems on multiple levels:
First, the dialogue was...less than good. There were actually a couple of points in the movie when I had to physically restrain myself from laughing out loud at the words that were coming out of the actors' mouths. The script wasn't all bad, but there were literally several times when I thought to myself, "Really? That's the line?"
Second, the dialogue issue was exacerbated by a number of sub-par performances. Now, I get that not every actor can give an award-worthy performance, but at least make an attempt. Or maybe that was their attempt. If so, that's just sad. I was most disappointed with Shiloh Fernandez; he was very...wooden. Virginia Madsen, who is actually a talented actress, was totally phoning it in. Max Irons' performance was a little uneven, but I'm going to chalk that up to this being his first major film role. I think he has a lot of potential to become a very good actor, especially with his pedigree (his dad is the great Jeremy Irons); he's just young and inexperienced. We'll definitely be seeing more of him, and I'm sure the more time he spends in front of the camera, the better he's going to get.
Third, Hardwicke tried to make this movie way too much like Twilight. I understand that teenagers with raging hormones were the target audience. I get it. But it doesn't have to be so obvious that you're trying to cater to Twi-hards. I felt like the marketing for Red Riding Hood had a much broader appeal. For instance, a lot of people I know, including myself, went to see it for Gary -- and the studio emphasized his starring role in promotions -- but when I actually got into the theatre the rest of the movie didn't do much for me. Sure, I was entertained for an hour and a half, but I didn't get the satisfied feeling I like to have when I leave the theatre after seeing a really good film.
Fourth, the obviously CGI werewolf was terrible. I'm sorry, if you're going to make a "horror" version of Little Red Riding Hood, the least you can do is make the wolf look: a) REAL, and b) SCARY. Seriously? I have seen a guy dressed up in a rubber werewolf costume that is more frightening than the "monster" in this movie. (Sidebar: Guess who and what movie I'm talking about. If you know me at all, you already know the answer.) If you're going to do something computer generated, it needs to look realistic. It's totally doable; I've seen tons of movies where this kind of thing was executed well.
Finally, the major problem may be that the movie was rated PG-13, so they didn't want anything to go too far or make anything too horrifying because kids are going to see it. Personally, I think there was so much more that could have been done with the movie if it had been rated R. It's the kind of movie that needed an R rating in order to do the story justice.
Okay, apparently it's impossible for me to do one of these posts without mentioning at least one or two positive aspects of the movie. Gary Oldman brought his A-game, as usual (although it was his campy, purposefully over-the-top A-game); it's too bad no one else did. Actually, that's not true. Julie Christie was very good as Valerie's hippy grandmother. She's a living legend, so it's kind of a given that she was going to be good. Amanda Seyfried wasn't bad (but I've seen her do better). And finally, the film was visually stunning. The costumes, sets, cinematography, etc. were actually pretty spectacular. A blood red cloak against pure white snow is really a sight to behold.