Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Just watched...

..."Red Riding Hood," a modern take on the classic fairy tale.

Directed by Catherine Hardwicke and released in 2011, this re-telling of the Little Red Riding Hood story diverges from the original children’s version. The mythical, very Brother’s-Grimm-sounding village of Daggerhorn has a problem: they are menaced by a werewolf. And beautiful Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) can hear the wolf’s thoughts...but why? Torn between Peter, her true love from childhood, and Henry, to whom she is promised, Valerie braves an accusation of being a witch, and being left as a sacrifice for the wolf. But as a visiting priest and werewolf hunter (played by Gary Oldman) points out, the wolf lives in the village. Who can it be?

The film’s stylized art direction is marvelous, with trees sporting enormous thorns, Valerie’s brilliant red cape against white snow, a village surrounded by a wall of wooden spikes, and scenes of a blood moon. The highlight of all this is a drunken village celebration in which the villagers become true pagans to the music of Fever Ray’s savage, mind-boggling song “The Wolf”—seeing the film is worth it for this scene and song alone (I’ve been listening to the song on repeat for a few days now--it can be heard briefly in the trailer below).

Unfortunately, there are plenty of drawbacks to the film. It was directed by Catherine Hardwicke who also directed the dreadful first film in the ridiculous “Twilight” saga. There is certainly an element of “Red Riding Hood” that is aimed at thirteen year old girls, and really, the only people interested in such things are thirteen year old girls. The young men Hardwicke cast to play Peter and Henry read as impotent little boys--I mean, even Amanda Seyfried appeared to have more balls compared to them. And the legendary Julie Christie (STILL beautiful at seventy) is totally wasted as Valerie’s Grandmother.

Recommend? I’d say to see it for the visuals and Amanda Seyfried’s performance… and the plot itself is not as bad as some critics have complained. It ended with a twist I did not see coming.


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