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Red Riding Hood(2011)
Set in a medieval village that is haunted by a werewolf, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family's displeasure.
For more about Red Riding Hood and the Red Riding Hood Blu-ray release, see Red Riding Hood Blu-ray Review published by Kenneth Brown on June 5, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.0 out of 5.
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Billy Burke, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen
Director: Catherine Hardwicke
» See full cast & crew
Red Riding Hood Blu-ray Review
There must be a God... because you're the Devil!"
Reviewed by Kenneth Brown, June 5, 2011
"Little Red Riding Hood with werewolves." It's a tasty little genre pitch; one that practically sells itself. In the hands of Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, though, it's all but wasted. Red Riding Hood fails on so many levels that it's hard to know where to begin. Casting? Aside from Amanda Seyfried, Hardwicke's annointed upstarts and grizzled veterans are all bark and no bite. Performances? A nauseating cocktail of grand-stage overacting and soft-pedal, high-school-play theatrics. The script? A beached whale of a faux-subversive fairy tale; listless, immovable and endlessly gasping for air. The story? An inane, exhausting who-wolfed-it in which everyone -- everyone -- is either a suspect or a red herring. The dialogue? As dense, wooden and sleepy as the film's pacing and plotting. The romance? Overbearing, oversexed and altogether contrived. And Hardwicke's direction? Imprecise, indecisive and inconsistent. In fact, if it weren't for Seyfried's poise, Gary Oldman's penchant for chewing scenery and Mandy Walker's lush Grimmsian cinematography, I don't even know if I'd classify Red Riding Hood as watchable. Too harsh? Spend three hours with the theatrical and alternate cuts of Hardwicke's misfire and see how chummy you feel.
The village of Daggerhorn lives in fear of a werewolf that stalks its forests, even though the beast hasn't killed anyone in a long time. That all changes, of course, when a young woman is found dead, leaving her once-happy family in disarray and her fellow villagers thirsty for revenge. More deaths soon follow as the young woman's sister, Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), struggles to make sense of it all. Her father (Billy Burke) is distraught and nearly despondent, her mother withdraws into a past filled with dark secrets (Virginia Madsen) and her grandmother (Julie Christie) seems a bit too calm and collected about it all, offering Valerie a red cloak instead of a tissue or a shoulder to cry on. The arrival of famed werewolf hunter and witch slayer Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) only complicates matters. According to him, the beast is hiding in plain sight among the townspeople. Unfortunately, Daggerhorn has no short supply of suspects. Could it be Solomon? He breezes into town at just the right moment. Maybe dear old grandmum? What big eyes she has. What about Valerie's parents? What big teeth they have. Or perhaps it's her lover, steely eyed woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). Or the wealthy blacksmith's son she's sworn to marry, Henry (Max Irons). The ever-leering local priest (Lukas Haas), the autistic farmhand (Cole Heppell), the creepy old woman (Christine Willes), Valerie's sultry best friend (Kacey Rohl)... the list goes on and on until Hardwicke and screenwriter David Johnson toss a dart at a wall of headshots, pick an actor and pen whatever needlessly complex backstory is required to keep the tale from collapsing in on itself.
If there's any solace to be had in Red Riding Hood it's that Hardwicke's Big Bad CG Wolf isn't opposed to hacking the list in half every time it tears into town, killing characters en masse with swift, semi-bloody indifference. But even then, Hardwicke devotes so much screentime to tirelessly isolating Valerie, dutifully shuffling chief suspects off camera just before an attack, and assembling an ungainly hydra of a murder mystery that it all grows surprisingly dull. There's no shock to be felt; no likable villagers to be trusted; no horror to be experienced; no love to be rooted for; no betrayal too unlikely. Even when the werewolf finally reveals its intentions -- going muzzle to nose with Valerie and whispering sweet nothings into her mind -- the creature's telepathic declarations only muddy everything that follows. Never mind the wolf; Solomon suddenly gets his kicks prosecuting Valerie, surely a witch in communion with the beast. Again, her circle closes. Again, her distrust builds. Never mind the love triangle; Valerie begins to think she's spotted the beast in both Peter and Henry. Again, we're left with senselessly long shots of Valerie eye-balling whoever looks at her the wrong way. Again, we're left with the overwhelming hope that the wolf will grow tired of Daggerhorn, slaughter anyone and everyone in the vicinity and move on to more intriguing hunting grounds with more fascinating prey.
Red Riding Hood is only a reimagining of "Little Red Riding Hood" in the loosest sense of the word. Take away the title, the red cloak and a ridiculous dream sequence starring Valerie's grandmother and you have the story of a village under siege by a werewolf. Oh, and the story of a rebellious but well-intentioned girl torn between two young men: a sullen, well-to-do blond aristocrat and a swarthy, charismatic woodsman. Sound familiar? It's as if Twilight and The Village couldn't keep their hands off of each other and, nine months later, gave birth to a genre monstrosity. But without any Big Bad Ideas to enrich and strengthen Johnson's script, all that remains are bad ideas. Valerie's love triangle is a distraction; her family doesn't share any convincing bonds; the villagers are underdeveloped sketches; the story hits the same three notes again and again and again; the film's beastie is squandered; its watery score and maligned soundtrack hang a sharp left at Fever Ray and crash into M83; Seyfried lords over the rest of the cast, Fernandez and Irons fall asleep at their respective wheels, and Oldman simply makes the most of cashing a studio check, spitting out everything in his repertoire short of "Bring me everyone. EVERYONE!" And the identity of the werewolf? It's so simple that it begs the question: why go to so much trouble to cast suspicion on so many when the culprit is so obvious? It amounts to a wild wolf chase so tiring, so uneventful, so entirely expected that there's little left to love. As far as I'm concerned, Red Riding Hood very well may be the worst movie of the year. Look for it to headline the 2012 Razzies.
Red Riding Hood Blu-ray, Video Quality
Thankfully, Red Riding Hood's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer is an enchanting one. Sumptuous, candle-wick oranges and lovely amber hues give way to striking reds, thick blacks and crisp whites. Yes, the darkness drapes across the environments with overtly heavy malice, but skintones are generally soft, supple and natural, lavish primaries pierce Hardwicke's somber fairy tale shadows and, every so often, the encode's hit-or-miss delineation peels back the night just enough to grant brave souls an opportunity to peer into the unknown. (Not as often as I'd like, mind you, but enough.) Detail is impressive as well, barring the intentionally murky werewolf attacks, firelit interior scenes and establishing shots of Daggerhorn that litter the proceedings. For the most part, textures have been refined to near perfection, object definition is clean and satisfying, and closeups are suitably gorgeous. Depth isn't entirely convincing, but then neither are Hardwicke's sets; errant noise and minor crush prey on weaker scenes, but each instance appears to trace back to Mandy Walker's photography. And while faint banding tends to circle light sources, artifacting, aliasing, ringing and the like remain at bay, meaning the encode itself is commendable. Say what you will about Red Riding Hood -- I certainly did -- just don't let those feelings bleed into your opinion of Warner's transfer.
Red Riding Hood Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Warner's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track is up to snuff as well. While it grows a tad front-heavy and lackadaisical when the film's Big Bad isn't stalking his next meal, the LFE channel and rear speakers roar to life whenever Daggerhorn's resident werewolf is on the prowl. Low-end effects are strong and startling, soundfield activity is both nimble and aggressive, and dynamics ground Hardwicke's restless fairy tale in a much-needed semblance of reality. Through it all -- vicious werewolf attack and hushed roll in the hay alike -- dialogue remains nicely centered, perfectly intelligible and carefully prioritized, and Alex Heffes and Brian Reitzell's music, mangled medieval rave sequence aside, doesn't miss a single beat. Shrug your shoulders at the film; just don't dismiss Red Riding Hood's lossless track so easily.
Red Riding Hood Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The Blu-ray edition of Red Riding Hood scrapes together a variety of exclusives -- among them an alternate cut of the film -- but very few of the resulting extras actually pay off. The disc's alternate cut doesn't offer many alterations, its Picture-in-Picture track flounders, its featurettes are diluted, its deleted scenes are dull and the best feature on the disc last a mere 73 seconds. Ah well. At least it's all presented in high defintion.
Red Riding Hood Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Ouch. Red Riding Hood is a tough slog; one that rarely, if ever, sinks its teeth into the possibilities. There are a few decent ideas buried in this mess, I know it. I just had a hard time digging them up. At least Warner's Blu-ray release makes it all go down a bit easier. While its hobbled supplemental package is missing a leg or two, the film's excellent AV presentation isn't hindered in the slightest. (Well, by anything other than its filmmakers' intentions.) If you can't resist the curiosity, stick with a rental.
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• This Week on Blu-ray - June 14-20 - June 14, 2011
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• Red Riding Hood: Alternate Cut Blu-ray Detailed - May 14, 2011
Warner Home Video has revealed a number of details about the upcoming Blu-ray edition of Red Riding Hood: Alternate Cut. The fantasy horror film is directed by Twilight filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke and stars Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer's Body) and Gary Oldman (The ...
• Red Riding Hood: Extended Cut Blu-ray - April 29, 2011
Warner Home Video have announced the Blu-ray release of the Extended Cut of Red Riding Hood for June 14th. The fantasy horror film is directed by Twilight filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke and stars Amanda Seyfried (Jennifer's Body) and Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight). ...
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