Red Riding Hood (Warner Bros., PG-13)

They even managed to work in the line, "Grandma, what big eyes you have," which drew actual, cartoonish, laugh-track-style guffaws from the front row.

 

 

 

 

I spent a good half hour trying to think of a snappy way to introduce the idea of Red Riding Hood to you and I’ve come to a conclusion: you cannot make lively what is boring and a bit silly.

We all know the basic story elements include a village in the olden days, a scary wolf, a grandmother and a girl in red hooded cloak. I do admit that I admire the attempt to update and sexify the classic fairy tale, but I so wish that the result had turned out better.

A small village has suffered attacks from the wolf for two generations, and now that the once-every-13-years "blood moon" (like a regular full moon, but bloodier) is upon them, a bite from the beast will turn unsuspecting villagers into its brutish brethren.

Because of course, it’s not just a big, bad wolf; it’s a big, bad werewolf.

Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) comes to kill the beast and reveals that werewolves revert to human form during the day. Before long, all the villagers become suspect, including Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), her lover Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) and her betrothed-by-arrangement Henry (Max Irons).

Oooh, doesn’t that sound dark and sexy and scary? Man, I wish it were true. Red Riding Hood is yet another case of good idea gone not-so-good. The story doesn’t give us anything to (ahem) sink our teeth into. Valerie may be the lead character, but she doesn’t actually drive the action. A lot of stuff just happens to her, and that’s not interesting to watch.

We’re supposed to be tantalized by the fact that Valerie has been promised to Henry but steals away with Peter. As a guy behind me in the theatre summarized, "Fuck it, it’s Twilight." And indeed, it was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, of the first Twilight installment. The only difference here? We don’t know the werewolf’s identity until very late in the film.

The script is so badly written that it was, at times, completely laughable. The characters throw around phrases like "if you love her, let her go" and so many other trite that it totally ruins any originality in the story. They even managed to work in the line, "Grandma, what big eyes you have," which drew actual, cartoonish, laugh-track-style guffaws from the front row.

So, is the screenplay the worst thing about Red Riding Hood? Absolutely not—the acting is much, much worse. Usually, when I see an actor with whom I’m unfamiliar, I either want to see more of them or don’t care if I see them again. As far as Fernandez and Irons are concerned, though, I literally do not want to see them act anymore. Granted, they weren’t given much to work with, but their performances actually made the material worse.

Unfortunately, they’re not alone. Even veteran sci-fi actors like Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica) and Michael Shanks (Stargate SG-1) turn in pedestrian portrayals of villagers that are bad enough to make you feel sorry for the actors. If you’re looking for a movie theater experience this weekend, don’t pin your hopes on Red Riding Hood. It won’t turn out well for you.│Adrienne Jones

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