Red Riding Hood

Wolf bane

It’s hard to imagine what anyone involved in the making of Red Riding Hood had in mind while working on this movie. Right about now, though, I’d guess that a pressing need for a new agent might be superseding all other thoughts. The picture finds fresh ways to puzzle and then bore those viewers who remain awake through the overlong entirety of its runtime. Where, I wondered, is the enlivening Nicolas Cage when you really need him?

The movie was directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who in palmier days gave us such well-regarded films as Thirteen and Lords of Dogtown. Her last movie, however, was the 2008 Twilight, the inaugural entry in that dreary saga, of which there are several unwelcome echoes here. There’s a teenage—well, young-adult—love triangle involving a virginal heroine and two tiresome hunks (although both of them boldly keep their shirts on). There’s a talking CGI wolf the size of a pickup truck that’s so crudely concocted it qualifies as comic relief. And there’s Billy Burke, who plays the virgin’s father in the Twilight films and does the same here.   

If you’re going to attempt a movie based on this familiar fairy tale, Neil Jordan demonstrated the way to do it with his 1984 The Company of Wolves, in which he explored the story’s psycho-sexual underpinnings in a most haunting way. But Jordan had the latitude of an R rating; Hardwicke seems perfectly content to operate within the strictures of a PG-13, which means that her movie’s one sex scene—well, it borders on being a sex scene—has the carnal heat of a day-old scone.

What Hardwicke has come up with is a substandard werewolf movie with an Inquisition-style witch hunt awkwardly bolted on. Amanda Seyfried is Valerie, the aforementioned virginal heroine. She’s surrounded by interchangeably colorless peasants in her medieval village and is soon to be handed off into an arranged marriage to the studly-but-sensitive village blacksmith (Max Irons), when the man she really loves is the studly-but-sensitive village woodcutter (Shiloh Fernandez). The suspense generated by this weary plot device is on the level of wondering whether or not it’ll rain tomorrow.  

The village is plagued by a murderous wolf—an ordinary wolf, the villagers believe, only murderous. They are disabused of this credulous notion by a werewolf-and-witch-hunter named Solomon (wildly overacted by Gary Oldman, a vision in burgundy velvet). Solomon's arrival in the village—with a retinue of hulking masked bodyguards and a large, hollow cast-iron elephant intended for the daffy purpose of slow-roasting local sorcerers—at least has the virtue of being entirely preposterous, and thus entertaining, in an entirely minimal way.

No humans are transformed into werewolves in this movie, presumably because that would be too much fun. Instead, the CGI furball simply puts in appearances, staging bloody romps through the village and occasionally dropping by for a (need I say hilarious?) chat with Valerie. Solomon announces that the ferocious lyncanthrope actually lives by day, in human form, right there in the village. Who could it be? Even Valerie’s doting grandmother (Julie Christie) becomes suspect. But then grandma does act weird sometimes. In one scene, Valerie goes through the what-big-teeth-you-have routine with the suddenly-leering old woman, who seems about to pounce. Irritatingly, however, this turns out to be Only a Dream.

The wolf, being essentially a cartoon, isn’t particularly scary. Some of the dialogue is, though. At one point, Valerie says, “Peter, get me outta here!” At another, grandma mystifies us with “All sorrows are less with bread.” And I’m afraid Oldman, apparently confused about which fairytale he’s involved in, gives forth with, “There’s a big bad wolf. Someone has to kill it.” In addition, the movie is production-designed to death—every inch of every frame is crammed with flickering candles and nubbly fabrics and richly lit woodsy interiors. (Hardwicke started out as a production designer.) Some of these decorative details—a sinister stew, a plate full of suspicious biscuits—are nudgingly highlighted, but then turn out to have no relevance to the plot.

Through all of this the characters wander as if lightly concussed. There are some very good actors trapped in this picture, particularly Christie, Oldman, Seyfried (please see Chloe), and Burke (whose strutting Satanist is the best reason to catch Drive Angry, a picture that actually is enlivened by Nicolas Cage). As the movie dwindles down to its sputtering conclusion, our hearts go out to these doomed performers. When one of them says “I don’t want you to see me like this,” we feel his professional pain.

Kurt Loder is a writer, among other things, embedded in New York.  

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  • GILMORE||

    I think they were thinking, "Amanda Seyfried is pretty hot".

  • Old Mexican||

    Well, then, we have to remind them what a real woman looks like:

    http://rossrightangle.info/fil.....oy_011.jpg

  • Picky Single Dude||

    And, while hot, she is no Amanda Seyfried.

  • Old Mexican||

    You sure like them scrawny... I prefer real women, like these:

    http://media.elsiglodetorreon......63831.jpeg

    http://www.tvnotas.com.mx/advf.....94x600.jpg

  • Almanian||

    Which one of those is rectal?

    *ducks*

  • Jen||

  • Jen||

    Hmm, hyperlink didn't work. Here you go: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ul8V.....ppy_39.jpg

  • sean||

    Does anybody recommend a good eye-bleach?

  • zoltan||

    I'm sure Amanda Seyfried is a real woman even though she's blonde and doesn't have massive hips.

  • DNS||

    I'm sure Amanda Seyfried is a real woman even though she's blonde and doesn't have massive hips.

    I have it on good authority that Ms. Seyfried is quite real, 100% woman and definitely blessed by Nature's Paint Brush™. Some men like the more lithe figure, while others find a more Reubenesque physique appealing. Different strokes for different folks.

  • Really?||

    OM - never would have figured you for a big fan of fake breasts.

  • Old Mexican||

    I'm a hips/legs/ass man myself (like most Hispanic males), so I am not concerned about fake boobs so much...

  • DST||

    http://www.tvnotas.com.mx/advf.....94x600.jpg

    So...you're into trannies as long as they're hispanic?

  • Paul||

    You're in the zone, OM, but they could still use a few more pounds.

  • Paul||

    Oh yeah, and ixnay on the fake boobs.

  • Lobster Girl||

    Even mine?

  • SIV||

    She's dressed for my blog

  • Brett||

  • Old Mexican||

    Some of these decorative details—a sinister stew, a plate full of suspicious biscuits—are nudgingly highlighted, but then turn out to have no relevance to the plot.


    Like playing Myst all over again...

  • DNS||

    Like playing Myst all over again...

    I hated that game.

  • Really?||

    A-fucking-men.

  • Hooha||

    So say the folks that couldn't finish it (without cheating). Damn near every one of the decorative deatails in Myst hinted at the sinful and phychopathic nature of the sons. Not only was it relevant to the plot, it was relevent to the gameplay. by the end of the game, you were supposed to have figured out by those clues alone that freeing either of them was a bad idea.

    Myst was a masterpiece that staved off the end of the dying adventure game genre for nearly a decade.

  • ||

    Liberals make films and invent things.

    Conservatives watch Hee-Haw and listen to Fat Rush.

  • Old Mexican||

    Liberals make films and invent things.


    They do indeed make a lot of stuff up.

  • ||

    Obamacare?

  • ||

    Grade: F

    Unispired work Shrike. You back on your meds?

  • ||

    UNINSPIRED!!!

  • Almanian||

    I kind of like "Uni-spired" - I dub that "An architectural term for a church with one steeple."

  • juris imprudent||

    Which would imply that shrike has a narrow highly pitched roofline.

  • Paul||

    Liberals do like to pretend to be other people on TV. I'll give you that.

  • GSL||

    BOOOO!!!

    As Nic Cage would say, "Troll harder!!"

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    Liberals make films...

    While the poor people sleepin'
    With the shade on the light
    While the poor people sleepin'
    All the stars come out at night
    After closing time
    At the Guernsey Fair
    I detect the El Supremo
    From the room at the top of the stairs
    Well I've been around the world
    And I've been in the Washington Zoo
    And in all my travels
    As the facts unravel
    I've found this to be true

    They got the house on the corner
    With the rug inside
    They got the booze they need
    All that money can buy
    They got the shapely bods
    They got the Steely Dan T-shirt
    And for the coup-de-gras
    They're outrageous

    Show biz kids making movies
    Of themselves you know they
    Don't give a fuck about anybody else
  • Mr Whipple©®™||

  • ||

    Nice!

  • Mr Whipple©®™||

    Steely Dan - the name was taken from that of a dildo in William Burrough's book, The Naked Lunch.

  • Almanian||

    I continue to like the movie reviews. I will be grateful when hollywood makes one that Mr. Loder actually likes.

    Another one to miss till it's on cable - thanks, Kurt and Reason!

  • Rock Action||

    I agree. "Has the carnal heat of a day-old scone" wins the thread before the thread even begins.

  • ||

    ((((((PPPPSSSSTTTTT)))))) MALMANIAn!
    be silenced!, put that reptiletong behind your teeth...
    The Redhairy chick IS THE HOTTEST THING EVER WALKED THIS EARTH OK!!!???
    Well, Starbuks waterboarding a cylon after being rescued from a cylonfarm is also a "bomb", oh!, rushhour's chicks, wait!: Lindacarter ON PANTS ON SESAMESTREET Mark...
    Yeah but, right now That Redhair walking on the forests... I'm sorry Joyce (I know you will always be there for me... I men, who do you preffer, imperfect me or... sharialaws...?)...
    Hey bho, you envy Seanhannity for he looks kindof Ken, Marine... Ken

  • Almanian||

    Are you an acquaintance of Hercule?

  • cynical||

    He's a Malkavian. 'S why he couldn't post before sundown.

  • Really?||

    Wow. I have been here awhile and that might be the most crazy I've seen packed into a paragraph.

  • GSL||

    Yeah, it's like someone took a bunch of crazy sentences and ran them through a random number generator to produce a bunch of gibberish strings of crazy.

  • tote-road||

    If A. Seyfried is going to play a fairy tale character it should be Bambi, what with her eye spacing and all.

    Also, what virgin wouldn't choose a wood cutter over a blacksmith?

  • ||

    sorry Tote: Also, what virgin wouldn't choose a wood cutter over a blacksmith?
    She already have to choose between a man and a BIG WHEREWOLF!!
    Wich "way" will she "play", the "swirl expert" cylon with a man or... a... prey in the woods?...

  • ||

    Well at least you didn't review that alien invasion movie I suppose.

    When will Reason review the best movie of 2010? That's Assayas's Carlos, in case you were wondering.

    Big Hollywood, Salon, Slate, and every other political site have given it great reviews.

  • Paul||

    The Carlos that's currently a multi-part series on IFC?

  • ||

    Yep. It's definitely worth a look.

  • ||

    Nicholas Cage, John Cusack, Chief O'Brien, Steve Buscemi, John Voinovich, you can't go wrong.

  • ||

    John Malkovich, that is.

  • DNS||

    Chief O'Brien

    That Colm Meany to you.

  • Ted S.||

    I remember him as the publican in The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

  • DNS||

    The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain.

    A very good film, in spite of Hugh Grant's best efforts to achieve the contrary.

  • ||

  • ||

    His jandrew edits were better.

  • Honest Libertarian||

    I'm still waiting for a film adaptation of The Dog Who Had Two Bones.

  • SIV||

    Freeway was a good RRH adaptation.

  • ||

    Agreed.

  • Paul||

    This.

  • ||

    blech

    The "nudity" warning in the TV Guide tricked me into spending valuable hours watching that crud on HBO during our night at the hotel at the state finals for debate club...and then it turns out to be friggin Playboy magazines sliding out of a cabinet for 2 seconds. Fuck that.

  • ||

    But are there any tits???

  • D||

    I think you're wrong about "a large, hollow cast-iron elephant intended for the daffy purpose of slow-roasting local sorcerers—at least has the virtue of being entirely preposterous, and thus entertaining, in an entirely minimal way".

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazen_bull

  • Ted S.||

    I think I'd rather see this version of Little Red Riding Hood.

    Alternatively, you might enjoy the Craig T. Nelson version.

  • Butts Wagner||

    How can this be worked into the political threads?

  • Candlemass ||

    Solitude Lyrics

    I'm sitting here alone in darkness
    waiting to be free,
    Lonely and forlorn I'm crying
    I long for my time to come
    death means just life
    Please let me die in solitude

    Hate is my only friend
    pain is my father
    torment is delight to me
    Death is my sanctuary
    I seek it with pleasure
    Please let me die in solitude

    Receive my sacrifice
    my lifeblood is exhausted
    no one gave love and understanding
    Hear these words
    vilifiers and pretenders
    and please let me die in solitude
    Earth to earth
    Ashes to ashes
    Dust to dust

  • ||

    the studly-but-sensitive village blacksmith (Max Irons)

    Seriously?

  • ||

    My favorite version:

    Hey there little red riding hood

  • Rock Action||

    That's what I thought of when I saw the suggestions above. Great song.

  • Robert||

    Anyone do Jack & Jill yet? The old woman who lived in a shoe? Humpty Dumpty? What's the record for shortest story turned into a feature film?

  • PantsFan||

    the film "Artificial Intelligence" was based on this

  • Lobster Girl||

    Chicken Little would be awesome.

  • ||

    It's been done.

  • Tony||

    Twilight makes me think the end of civilization is nigh.

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    Game of Thrones (Book 1 in A Song of Ice and Fire*) will make you rethink that


    *Okay, I got hooked on the series about 2 months ago (even though its much older than that)

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    Also, for a good werewolf movie, check out Dog Soldiers.

  • air max france||

    pretty

  • rather ||

    13ft tsunami hitting Japan- devastating

  • Just||

    Could cause Japan to default on it's debt.

  • all star chaussures||

    thanks.

  • chrispy||

    I don't have anything against Kurt Loder, but why are these reviews appearing on Reason? He doesn't seem to have a particularly libertarian viewpoint, and I don't see how movie reviews fit in with the rest of the material here. For what it's worth, I think we'd be better off with more Drew Carrey type videos, and fewer of these articles.

  • rather||

    Didn't you know the Carrey videos are obsolete? They've already saved Cleveland

  • Lobster Girl||

    why are these reviews appearing on Reason?

    Why the pop-culture stuff? I'll tell you why. Because it's cheap and you don't have to think too hard about it. It's the secret of my success.

  • John Norris||

    What is the libertarian view on crap movies?

    Give Loder a break; he got kicked to the curb in favor Gideon Yago and Sway.

  • PicassoIII||

    Um, it's only wikipedal, but...
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Loder#Politics

  • ||

    I loath modern movies - only a few have escaped my wrath. I end up watching movies from the 40s-early 80s more than anything else.

    My brother, who went to film school, blames Star Wars for the lack of good movies - once Hollywood went SFX-crazy, the script and acting quality dropped like a rock.

  • Jen||

    Kurt, why did you even bother to see this piece of shit? Couldn't you tell it was going to suck goat balls from the preview? Now, Jane Eyre, that at least looks like it'll be a decent movie. Sappy, but decent.

  • ||

    I apologyse for "she have" HAS to choose, sorry, she distracts me ... naturaly

  • ||

    Normaly I won't care for mispells/gramm/edit/etcs...
    But I care for my people... don't even have a laptop (but at list I have a Teasoul Serenityriverfirefly... and that "thing" has an ordinary nuketeafairy"...)... so: I apologyze for not checkspell... (I poor now)...
    THIS IS AN INFORMAL SITE, DIFFERENT TO neolibtiCAL$ from Moregov, with all their creepy crappy spooky all $yberforce$/segments/possitions/rinoliphants like miamidade (MAYORALvarez police not only FELONICLY USED LAW/DOCTORS WORKING TOGHETER WITH WELL KNOWN CASTROPCOYOTE I DENOUNCED ON 2004
    ((((and we'll WE'LL KEEP ON THROWING DOWN THE SOFLA CASTRO COPY SYSTEM CHUNK BY CHUNK AND RECALLS AND ANY ELECTION TILL IS c l e a r of more than govork$/union$/deathboring
    blogger$tockler$, whole castroagentCITIES!!
    AAAAND EVEN SEEN their kommunI$TICK union (of the $nake) BEING BROKEN they still punishing me throw anybody I "have" to interact, they have anybody's "brieffs made by them joke" they enjoy or can even get (mentaly noticed) sick if they don't punish anyone on miamidade/acorn kinda segment personnel "territory" with ALL Moregov re$ource$ etc working against ordinary people...
    I know the machine, bho; one gov to rule them... one gov to find them... one gov to bring them on... and in the darkne$$ (your mal dollar kommuni$TICK broken nightmare castrogov "$ea of $ocial INNju$tice", u$$r'u$ neolibtiCAL$...) tight them!!...

  • ||

    you see malmanian, THE IMPORTANT THING IS THE MESSAGE, what if we are under a Battle for LA?
    won't you read me?

  • ||

    A film that makes you want to seek a Nic Cage vehicle...wow!

  • converse pas cher||

    thank u

  • soldes ascis||

    thanks

  • sophie||

    Film is a different medium than print. Rather than characters making speeches, Rand's philosophy ought to be shown via the characters doing something interesting.

  • kelly||

    Whoa...since when did you guys start doing game commentary?

  • nike running shoes||

    is good

  • beiduibei||

    thank u

  • mbti||

    thank

  • xiingguan||

    asdvgasvcasv

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