Sunday, March 13, 2011
Red Riding Hood aka Dude, Your Hair is Awesome
I really had high hopes for the Red Riding Hood, the newest incarnation of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. Just seeing a darker, more malevolent version of the childhood classic was a draw for me. There have been several retellings of the story including In the Company of Wolves, and recently the excellent Halloween anthology Trick r Treat. When Gary Oldman was added to the cast that pretty much sealed the deal for me. The rest of the cast seemed solid, nothing that really got me whipped into a frenzy, but Oldman is one of my favorite living actors, and he always brings his A game.
There were things that concerned me. A PG-13 rating meant that the film wouldn’t be too dark. Plus PG-13 has in recent times become synonymous with horrible teeny bopper horror. Probably the biggest warning sign was that Red Riding Hood was being directed by Catherine Hardwicke. For those who don’t know Catherine was the director of the biggest insult to horror film this side of anything by Uwe Boll. That’s right she directed Twilight.
Still Gary Oldman and the promise of a dark version of Red Riding Hood pulled me. A version like we know had to be the original telling of the story. So I took a chance, and the film left me with mixed feelings.
The film was beautifully shot throughout. Excellent use of colors and the scenery kept the viewer riveted to the screen. The wolf attacks were less than bloody for the most part. In the scenes where we see the CGI wolf it isn’t that bad. I didn’t like the scenes where the wolf just blurs across the screen, killing so quickly we can’t focus on it. If the creature were that fast, the film should have ended within the first thirty minutes. Final score village- 0, Wolf-everyone.
Still the story was interesting and Gary soon made his appearance and his hair was wonderful. He lit up the screen as only Gary Oldman can. We watched as he changed from heroic savior to vicious witch hunter. All the time his hair was perfect.
There was a love story of course, actually a bit of a love triangle (oh noes TWILIGHT ALERT), between Red, Peter (Peter Rabbit or Peter Wolf), and Henri. Red of course loved perfect hair Peter, while ignoring brooding Henri(aha she kind of pulled a switch from Twilight, even though peter’s hair did look a lot like Edward’s). The Peter character really wasn’t very likeable, and I hoped Red would end up with Henri (does that make me Team Henri?) Even though he was brooding, his hair looked nice too. Maybe not as nice as Peter’s, and definitely not in the same league as Gary’s hair.
The movie turns into a whodunnit with more red herring’s flying than pies at a Three Stooges convention. Who is the werewolf? Is it Peter, Henri, grandma, or possible the sexy granddad from Geico? Well it couldn’t be Gary, the wolf’s hair just wasn’t good enough. The Wolf had short over conditioned hair with quite a lot of hair gel. Kind of like Peter, hmm. It was about two thirds of the way in when I realized.
Where the hell did Peter get hair gel in a Medieval village? Ok I know suspension of belief and all that but COME ON. Everyone’s hair was perfect, even the requisite crazy villager looked like he just came from Super Cuts. Still Peter was the worst offender. Oldman’s flowing hair can be explained since he was both a member of the clergy and a bit of a celebrity from the big city. Plus I freely admit I cannot say anything bad about Gary Oldman. If Gary Oldman chased me through Beverly Hills throwing feces at me and calling me a pedophile, I’d still be singing his praises.
Most of the villagers had hair that, while very nice, I could cope with, but Peter? Dippity doo and wolf shit too, his hair took me right out of the film. After I noticed it, well like a ugly mole on a hot chick, once you see it, you can’t un-see it.
Still if you can get away from the hair, don’t stare, it’s rude, just look away, it’s not a bad film in itself. Amanda Seyfrid makes a decent Red, err Valerie and Max Irons makes Henri a lot deeper and more likeable character than Peter. There are some great scenes like the village revelry. During the street party the soundtrack blends in perfectly with the music of the village.
The CGI is on the better end of the scale and doesn’t detract from the film. The ending really disappointed me though. At this point she really dipped into her bag of Twilight tricks. It felt as if she was almost trying to make this a prequel to the “kinder and gentler” Twilight werewolf’s, as well making it more of a fairy tale. Yes I know it is a fairy tale movie, but we were promised dark. Dark is not a girl and werewolf starring wistfully into each others eyes, or scenes of Red and Peter climbing snow covered hills. Where is the true pain and tragedy of the curse, not cheap emo sighs.
So the verdict? After all that I don’t feel like I wasted my cash, ok maybe I wasted half of the ticket price. I am a sucker for medieval settings, and Grimm’s tales. Plus getting to see Gary Oldman is always worth at least three bucks. Fans of Twilight will love it, although Team Jacob fans might get upset over a vicious werewolf. Fans of real horror will probably hit me with lemons for paying to see it. While it’s not a horrible movie, it is not really what I was hoping for. Twilight fans rush out now, fans of Gary Oldman and Grimm’s Fairy Tales, if there’s nothing else to do, why not? Everyone else, wait till it’s on HBO.