movie review: Red Riding Hood

by Leonard Maltin
March 11, 2011 5:00 AM
10 Comments
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Have you spent years wondering what the whole story was behind the fable of Little Red Riding Hood? Have you had questions about the motivations of the wolf, or suspicions about Grandma? Have you pondered the sexual connotations of this age-old fairy tale?

Me neither.

Just the same, someone has made a movie about all of that. I’m afraid Red Riding Hood is just one of numerous fairy-tale films we’re in for over the next year or so. I hope at least a few of them are better than this turkey.

Amanda Seyfried plays the title character, who lives in a village at the edge of a deep, dark forest. The villagers live in constant fear of—

—a wolf who claims a sacrificial victim—usually an animal—whenever the moon rises. But when the wolf kills Riding Hood’s sister, someone summons Father Solomon (played by Gary Oldman), who takes charge and conducts a witch-hunt that’s almost as vicious as the wolf attacks. Oldman is such a fine actor that I hate to see him wasting his time on an overstated role in such a piece of tripe. (The perils of witch-hunting are driven home with all the subtlety of a pick-axe.)

It’s Oldman who intuits that the village isn’t dealing with a mere animal but a werewolf who is so crafty, he may be living among them undetected. Riding Hood now has cause to suspect everyone around her—including her boyfriend, Shiloh Fernandez, her betrothed, Max Irons (Jeremy’s son), and even her grandma, Julie Christie.

David Leslie Johnson’s script and Catherine Hardwicke’s direction are lumbering from the word go. If the producers were hoping for some Twilight type of sizzle from Hardwicke and the two young men who vie for Seyfried’s affections, I’d say they came up empty-handed. This is pretty dreary stuff.

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10 Comments

  • TegMiles | August 15, 2011 4:16 AMReply

    Watch "The Company of Wolves" instead. It has everything this movie doesn't have.

  • bob | August 2, 2011 1:58 AMReply

    This movie was pretty bad. It was definitely lacking in a lot of departments. The acting was not genuine or sincer enough. As the one person wrote Gary Oldman is way too good of an actor to play in such a bad movie. More RAW feeling is needed. They also need to focus on one thing at a time. It's as if they cram all of this stuff in at once to meet a time deadline which is being done in most films these days. Are they trying to lower our standards? The ending was overwritten , corny, and leaves you hanging. I feel they could have done more with the grandma character. She really was very interesting and really seemed to have some psychic powers and knowledge of what was going on but they just kind of did nothing with that. So in all I was disapointed with the film and did not really take it serious but it was slightly entertaining and I agree about it resembling twilight a lot.

  • Travis | July 14, 2011 8:02 AMReply

    This was a gorgeous film, unfortunately I didn’t think it had much else to offer. I don’t know, I suppose it was worth watching once at least, especially since I have such a great, cost-effective way of renting movies with Blockbuster online. Not only does Blockbuster have an exhaustive selection of movies and games, they have in-store exchange options and many of the new releases before Redbox or Netflix. I’m also happy to say that as an employee of DISH Network I get to offer new customers 3 months of Blockbuster absolutely free. It’s a great value added to an already incredible deal. You can check out the details here if you’d like to: http://bit.ly/lCaUkg I definitely recommend it, it’s certainly worth a few minutes of your time.

  • <3 | April 10, 2011 3:48 AMReply

    I don't careif it was a dreary movie. It had hot boys :P

  • Violet Tigress | March 29, 2011 7:49 AMReply

    LM, it is painfully obvious that you are not a fan of fairy tales and know little about the genre. If you were expecting subtlety, you picked the wrong movie. Your biases are showing.
    I agree that Red Riding Hood is not a brilliant example of movie making. There are some major issues with the movie. I enjoyed the new twist on the story, but it could have been done better.
    Amanda Seyfried really grates on my nerves. There are two expressions that she does well, and neither of them are right for Red Riding Hood. I really wish that Hollywood would stop it with the pale waif look. It's been done to death, already.

  • Paul | March 29, 2011 2:19 AMReply

    This was a ludicrous hodge-podge of a movie. You are altogether too kind in this review. Except for Gary Oldman's scenery-chewing and Julie Christie's weird intensity, the actors were just going through the motions. The visual palette was perky, but the plot and the stage direction were both completely lacking in coherence. And far from being exciting, the mish-mosh of styles was simply boring. I spent most of the village Bacchanal wondering where a medieval village would have rented a microphone and bad sound system for their singer--when I wasn't wondering why they couldn't come up with choreography that came within hailing distance of the supposed period of the film. (What they did have was appallingly anachronistic--equivalent to having Watusi tribesmen dancing the minuet at a tribal bash.) This film makes "The Wild Women of Wongo" and "The Thing with Two Heads" look like works of genius.

  • Lorna Czarnota | March 28, 2011 2:37 AMReply

    As a professional storyteller familiar with the older versions of the "fairytale," I was actually pleased to see the writer's take a chance. I've read a couple reviews by folks wondering why all the fairytales lately. Well, for one thing they are needed, they never were written for children. In fact the story is for young adults, so it makes sense it would follow on the heels of Twilight. The acting was bad but if you do some research and look underneath the incorrect stereotype that fairytales are for children, you will find the movie contained the stressful sexuality of youth, undertones of incest and cannibalism, all of which are in the early versions of the Red Riding Hood story, pre Grimms Brothers. And, during the 1500s there werewolf trials! Granted, the movie did leave out some of the nastier stuff or it would have been X rated. My big disappointment was the ending, leaving that open end for a sequel. Whatever happened to movies with definitive endings? That's the money part.

  • Jeremy | March 27, 2011 5:47 AMReply

    Just what we needed... more angsty teens and shirtless werewolves.

  • Brian | March 15, 2011 12:02 PMReply

    So, Leonard, does this get a BOMB rating in the next "Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide"? Hope it does.

  • Thom | March 12, 2011 9:52 AMReply

    LM I think you were harder on this than warranted. It's not great movie-making (though beautifully filmed). It isn't terrible either (or "dreary" as you put it). The script should have focused more on character and less on red herrings. The revelation was a surprise to many in the almost packed audiece I saw this with. I do think this proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that digital werewolves are NOT scary!!! I hope every studio finally gets what audiences have been screaming about for a long time. They look like video game creations and they are dopey. That said, this was certainly a better movie all-around than many snarky critics have claimed.

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