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Friday, August 5, 2011

Red Riding Hood (2011) - Film Review

Okay.  I want to get one very important thing out of the way.  This movie exists because of one word: "Twilight".  This is, essentially, a very loose interpretation of the Red Riding Hood story as if it were interpreted and performed by the cast of the aforementioned vampire “saga”.  The leads glare and brood and speak with hammy poetic dialogue that is ever as bad as anything Hayden Christensen can produce.  This is a dumb movie aimed at fans of a series that is, on its own, a horrible plague of cinema, so that means this Red Riding Rip-Off is as bad if not worse than the film it is trying to be.

The convoluted and overly dramatic plot is focused on Valerie, who is torn between then man she loves and the man to which she is to be wed (Gee!  I haven’t heard that crap before!).  Meanwhile, a werewolf terrorizes the girl’s home town.  A priest named Solomon (Gary Oldman embarrassing himself again; he does that every now and then), arrives to fight off the wolf but ends up trying to sacrifice Valerie to the wolf after she is accused of being a witch.  The wolf is drawn out but escapes, and Valerie finds out who the wolf is in a twist that is about as surprising as the ending of a Steven Segal movie.  Then we get some more posing, a sequel tease, and the credits role.

This is a bad movie.  However, it goes deeper than that.  This is a bad movie that is an example of just about everything I hate about Hollywood as it is two things that I really despise: it is pathetic attempt to cash in on a craze, and it is a waste of some good talent.  The cast is mostly B and C-List fare, with a few talented actors who have been good before.  Gary Oldman, who is one of my favorite screen actors, is one such actor, and he’s the only star in the movie that doesn’t appear to be holding back.  He is going for full camp with this performance, but it doesn’t work.  This is mainly because he’s overacting in a crowd of expressionless and shallow characters that stand around looking “dark” and “moody” throughout the film.  The worst of all the performances goes to Shiloh Fernandez, the romantic male lead, who is flat out channeling Robert Pattinson’s boring and pathetic style.  He is just awful, and if I could reach through the screen and punch him, I would.

Now, I went a little too far in calling this a straight “rip off” of Twilight, because it is from the director of the first Twilight film, and boy is the direction ever as bad as you’d expect it to be.  Catherine Hardwicke is just terrible at presenting to us interesting characters that express real and believable emotion.  Her style more closely resembles a fashion advert for Abercrombie & Fitch than an actual film.  The actors pose and pause between their lines, their carefully groomed eyebrows accentuating their grim, stone-like faces.  While “GOOD” directors draw characters out of their actors, Hardwicke seems to try to suppress them, as though actual acting would get in the way of what is essentially eye candy for teenage girls. 

This movie isn’t as stupid or offensive as many of the other bad movies I’ve watched for this blog, and I realize fully that I do not fall into the narrow intended audience for this movie.  It is obviously intended to appeal to emo teen girls who are, for some reason, attracted to the boring style of acting presented in these types of movies, so I guess if you like the Twilight movies you might be entertained by this film, but as a stand alone title, this is garbage.  It is a boring, overwritten, overacted, silly exercise that not only drags on, but shows the worst of the teen-emo genre by sticking a stupid soap opera romance into what could have been a good monster movie.  It just doesn’t work.  With a better screenplay and a director with actual talent, this could have been an entertaining popcorn flick, unfortunately I cannot recommend a movie based on what it could have been.

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