10 March, 2011
A film of grimm banality, "Red Riding Hood" puts a bloodthirsty "Twilight" spin on a fairy tale already possessed of an unusually macabre climax.
As it thuds along from one wolf attack to the next, Catherine Hardwicke's first film since taking leave of Bella and her toothy friends adamantly refuses to provide any wit, humor or fun, concerning itself mostly with the heroine's taxing dilemma of picking between the rural village's two best looking boys.
Still, with Warner Bros. delivering a massive campaign aimed at a ready-and-drooling target audience, some big opening numbers lie in wait this weekend.
"Red Riding Hood" is in the vanguard of what appears to be an onslaught of live-action fairy tale-derived studio features over the next year or so. What triggered this trend remains unclear, but one can only hope that the level of cleverness and invention improves, as things hardly get off to an inspired start here.
Restricting the action almost entirely to a small Ruritanian community where everyone but the visiting Gary Oldman speaks in mundane American accents, the script by David Leslie Johnson ("Orphan") pivots on two central creative ploys -- to turn a mere wolf into a werewolf and to transform the ancient story into a whodunnit in which the lovely young Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) must figure out who among the locals nocturnally mutates into the massive black hound that killed her sister and converses to her, hoping she'll run away with it.