From the moment Red Riding Hood opens with a sweeping camera over the fog and trees so reminiscent from Twilight that it could have come from the cutting room floor, it is obvious that the movie is a Catherine Hardwicke production. While the movie at times looks and feels perfect for this fairy tale world, the classic tale is interrupted by jarring modern moments, music that feels out of place, unnecessary angst, and a script that at times draw laughter for the wrong reasons.
Amanda Seyfried is lovely as Valerie, the girl with the red cape. Her big doe eyes and beautiful expressive features make her perfect for a fairy tale character. Valerie lives in a medieval town with her mother, Suzette( Virginia Madsen), father, Cesaire ( Billy Burke), and her sister. The village has kept peace for years with the wolf that haunts them by providing it with their best livestock until one day it kills Valerie’s sister. The men decide to track down the wolf and destroy it. Among the hunting party are Valerie’s two suitors. Peter ( Shilo Fernandez) cuts wood for a living like her father, has been her friend since childhood, and is the man she loves. Henry (Max Irons) is a blacksmith who Valerie’s parents have arranged for her to marry to ensure her a better life. The group returns to town with the head of the wolf, but also the body of Henry’s father who was killed by the beast. As they celebrate their victory, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), the famous werewolf hunter, arrives. He informs the villagers that the wolf they have killed is not the werewolf, and that anyone bitten by the wolf will be infected and must be destroyed. From there on out it is a series of attacks and fights between Father Solomon, his men and the wolf while at the same time Father Solomon terrorizes the town’s residents in his quest to unmask the werewolf in their midst. Academy Award winning actress Julie Christie plays the grandmother who lives in the woods.
The movie often felt flat as the story’s progression was rather slow. While the cast is talented the likes of Madsen, Oldman, and Christie felt wasted and at times forced into playing caricatures . Burke plays his character with so much apathy that you forget he exists at times until he wanders on screen again. Seyfried works with what she is given and is appealing to watch. You do care for her character’s well being. Irons is winning and a nice guy as Henry. There is no reason to dislike Henry, but there’s also no reason to root for him to get the girl either, which creates a rather drama less love triangle. Fernadez as Peter has been Valerie’s dear friend from childhood. They love each other., He’s charming, dashingly and roguishly handsome, and an amazing onscreen kisser. You long for Fernadez to come back on screen for eye candy alone, but he is talented and like Seyfried does his best with the material.
There are too many ancillary characters that we know little about, but then are expected to care when they are killed. Father Solomon’s witch hunt through the town and relentless treatment of everyone was over the top. You don’t have to worry about being frightened because the trailers look scarier than anything actually in the movie. Red Riding Hood lacks excitement and by the time the wolf was revealed, I almost didn’t care anymore. Almost.