By Melissa Silverstein | Women and Hollywood March 11, 2011 at 4:30AM
You have to give it to Catherine Hardwicke. She specializes in making movies for teenage girls. She seems to be able channel that teen angst and language better than anyone else. The problem is that it is hard for those of us who left behind our teens a while ago to go along for the ride. It took me about 20 minutes to get into the rhythm of Red Riding Hood. This is the type of movie that you just have to go with as much as you can. If you try and figure it out it will leave you frustrated. The film reminded me a lot of Twilight except that there were no sparkling vampires. But the good news is that Red Riding Hood aka Valerie played by doe eyed Amanda Seyfried is a way stronger female character than Bella Swan could ever be.
Hardwicke takes the legend of Red Riding Hood and updates it for the 21st century. It is rich with vibrant colors and rife with a sexiness that jolts the fairy tale to another whole level. Valerie is an strong independent young woman in love with Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) the poor woodcutter. Her parents decide to marry her off to the rich Henry (Max Irons) so Peter and Valerie make plans to run away. But their departure is prevented by the arrival of the blood moon and the werewolf who has been terrorizing their town for generations.
It was easier to get into the second part of the movie because it is more of an action flick where the wolf terrorizes the town and the townfolk as well as Gary Oldman as Father Solomon part priest and part expert werewolf hunter try to take down the wolf by any means necessary. The whole hunt is creepy and anyone who doesn't fit into their mold of "normal" is the potential wolf, even the sad town boy with a learning disability who can barely speak.
One thing that the movie has going for it is that the gender of the wolf is not assumed to be male. [Spoiler] The movie would have been infinitely better had the wolf turned out to be grandmother played by Julie Christie (and let me say how cool it is to have Julie Christie is a Catherine Hardwicke movie.) Grandmother lives in the woods and doesn't play by the town rules. She is a great role model for Valerie. Having had the wolf be a woman would have created a whole new feminist twist on the piece. But that was not to be.