Like Twilight on steroids, Red Riding Hood, Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood is an overblown, crimson red romantic spectacle – sort of what we would expect from the woman who directed both movies.
Instead of Bella, we have Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) looking all pale and wan in a voluminous cloak that obligingly grows a tail whenever more volume is needed – I wish my hair would do that. Instead of Edward we have a brooding woodcutter called Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), and replacing Jacob is Max Irons as Henry. Not just one those Ironses either – Max is the spawn of two acting dynasties, as the son of Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack.
Team Peter or Team Henry? Does it matter? One of them may be a werewolf, or not, there are plenty of suspects in the fake picturesque medieval village where Valerie and her fetching young neighbors live with their well preserved elders. It looks like the set of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, all fake fir trees and soundstage props.
Valerie is truly in love with Peter, but true love never runs smooth when the moon is full, and their plans to run away together are rudely interrupted by the death of Valerie’s sister at the claws and jaws of a werewolf. This creature has been terrorizing the village for some time, and this latest outrage draws the attention of wolf hunter Solomon, a rock star performance by Gary Oldman. Bless him, he never takes any of this lark seriously, and he’s the one spark of light in this seriously dull movie.
Grandma (who whipped up the cloak out of a pair of old curtains she had lying around, one presumes) is played by Julie Christie, and Valerie’s mother Suzette by Virginia Madsen. This seems to be the one area in which this movie actually ties to show some originality, daring and just plain cheek – Seyfried is This Year’s Blonde, in Hollywood parlance, but Christie was This Year’s Blonde in the 60s, and Madsen was This Year’s Blonde in the 80s.
Madsen is as gorgeous now as when she romanced Christopher Lambert in The Highlander, and Christie, who plays Madame Rosmerta in the Harry Potter series, is never less than divine. But even their presence cannot save this turgid melodrama from moving at the speed of dark, or breathe life into the performances of boring young actors who don’t have a fraction of the sizzle these women had in their hey day.
I paid to see this movie with my own funds.