Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Red Riding Hood

Movie Review : Red Riding Hood
Director : Catherine Hardwicke
Genre : Fantasy / Mystery
Starring : Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Virginia Madsen
Released : 2011
My Rating : 4 out of 10

I debated a lot with myself before writing this review, as in, do I even want to admit that I watched this movie ? I decided the least I could do is save your time.

Some ideas have a perennial appeal. Vampire stories have fascinated people since hundreds of years. No matter how many books are written, how many movies (and TV serials) are made, and how bad many of those are, there is always a market for them. The whole "Twilight" saga has proved just how effective this money making machine is. But those poor Werewolves, they are not so lucky. Just by themselves, they cannot dupe lot of people in parting with their money.

That does not stop Hollywood from trying. This time, the werewolves are being forced to draw references from the classic children's story. Of course, there is a love triangle involving a teen-aged girl as the central character, and 2 boys - one rich, one poor. Well, this movie is directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who also directed the first movie of Twilight saga. Now you know who the target audience is, and why I should have stayed away. Alas, I missed all the danger signs.

The story happens in a fictional medieval village. Werewolves are breaking their long held agreement and are terrorizing the villagers. In this village lives Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) - the girl with a red hood. She is the center of the story, surrounded by her family and the two young men who are courting her. She has a curious encounter with the Werewolf, whose identity is unknown. To solve that mystery and to capture the werewolf, an obnoxious werewolf hunter comes to help the villagers. To complete the reference to the children's story, Valerie has a grandmother, and this character adds to the mystery.

Such a plot is part of the problem, but just a part. The bigger issue is the poorly written and unbelievably amateurish love triangle. It's boggles the mind that the movie got funded with such a glaring flaw in the script. Even harder to believe is the fact that, the two male leads manage to do a worse job than the writers. Absolutely no one can accuse them of having any acting skills. How on earth, a movie aimed at teen-aged girls can hope to have any success with such wooden male actors ? As Twilight has shown, if you want to get away with poor plot, you need to hire actors that can attract droves of teenage girls. Else your market disappears faster than the werewolves can change back to a human form.

When compared to these flaws the mystery aspect of the movie seems to work well, even though it's filled with holes. The writers deliberately provide clues that try to misguide the viewers, but they just seem forced. The best part of the movie is the cinematography. The atmosphere is maintained quite well, but it's not enough to carry the movie.

Amanda Seyfried does as best as she can with the material. I wish Virginia Madsen, who plays the role of Valerie's mother, had more screen time. She still looks gorgeous. Gary Oldman plays the obnoxious part well, but his character is pointlessly forced onto the story.

This is one of those movies with better promotions (trailers, posters) than the actual product. I say, skip this one. In any case, it's not for the kids.

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