If there’s ever been any doubt that Gary Oldman has the talent and the presence to carry projects single-handily, then Red Riding Hood is the film that puts an end to it.
Before he arrives, the film is mired in bad writing and bad performances that fails to seize the stunning artwork and presentation values Catherine Hardwicke’s revamped children’s classic realises. Being a straight male, I’ve not seen or had any interest in her previous work on the Twilight saga, but she proves here she has an eye for the cosmetics. There’s sweeping fly-by shots of snow-covered mountains and purposefully unfocused snaps of falling flakes contrasting against powerful colours that effortlessly overpower the lacking cast.
That’s unfair to lead actress Amanda Seyfried who seems determined to make the best of a bad situation and pulls out a believable performance while everyone else around her phones it in. She does her best as the shared love interest of both wealthy Henry (Max Irons) and desolate woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez) who simply seem disinterested in their roles. While Seyfried struggles to carry them through the trite love triangle, they do little more than grunt indifferently and try their best to look as pretty as they can. Perhaps they can’t be blamed: despite their vastly different backgrounds, each character seems to be a near carbon copy of the other and why Seyfried’s character would show any interest in either remains the film’s biggest mystery. When they’re not both being different shades of moody and unapproachable, they’re sprouting uninspired lines like "If you love her, you'll let her go" slightly rephrased and repeated ad nauseam as they try to lackadaisically outmanoeuvre each other.
Then, thankfully, Oldman appears stage left as the grizzled wolf-hunting holyman and tries his level best to pull off a coup; to try and give audiences a watchable film. Suddenly, there’s a sense of urgency, and he even manages to illicit a few laughs from a previously humourless, self-absorbed movie. Focus is shifted away from half-hearted performances, Seyfried puts on a red cape in a tenuous attempt to link the film with the story, and Red Riding Hood threatens to turn into a worthwhile experience.
Then fails. When the wolf steps into the spotlight, any sense of danger is exhumed. Off-screen, it’s a mysterious collection of rage and murder, leaving nothing but bestial destruction in its wake. On screen…. it’s a disappointing CGI mishap containing all the apprehension of an aging cocker spaniel. Not even Oldman can save that -- though, bless him, he tries.
As such, Red Riding Hood is a film that starts off poor and despite a slight reprieve around the half way mark, concludes on a further low. I’m sure millions were ploughed into the filming, the locations and the special effects, but it remains a project filled with plenty off huff and puff, but without the ability to blow anything away.
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|darketernal - April 15, 2011 (12:16 PM)
Who the hell ever doubted that Gary Oldman was awesome in everything he did?
|EmP - April 15, 2011 (12:30 PM)
Stupid people. Who are dead to me.
|zippdementia - April 16, 2011 (10:41 AM)
I can't tell you whether I've worked with Catherine (because then she might discover this post) but I can tell you that doing so has appeared to some to be a very discouraging experience artistically.
|wolfqueen001 - April 20, 2011 (11:42 AM)
Hahahahaha. I swear, if I didn't know any better, I'd say I wouldn't be surprised to see this in some kind of entertainment magazine, especially with that, albeit cheesy (and therefore hilarious), metaphor at the end.
Anyway, it sounds like you had less of an issue with Oldman than with the film as a whole. =/ Unless he directed it or something (I don't pay attention to these things), in which case boo.
I'm sad, though; this looked like it'd be a cool movie. Especially since I've always liked the darker tellings of fairy tales, which is what this appeared to be from previews. Oh, well. Maybe I'll watch it anyway. Nothing can be as bad as the Twilight films, and I've watched those... but not out of any sense of real enjoyment or liking. I watch those just for the sheer amusement at seeing how laughably bad they are.
|- - April 24, 2011 (09:42 AM)
I think too many people jump on the hate-Twilight bandwagon because it's cool to hate. The Twilight films are bad (I've seen the first two - New Moon was terrible), but they're certainly not the worst films ever. Red Riding Hood looks like one of those that is clearly worse if the absolutely scathing reviews are to be believed.
Great review - I enjoyed reading it and you took a good angle. Such a shame that Gary Oldman is associated with this movie.
|TerrifiedConsequence - April 25, 2011 (03:38 AM)
What a mess. Stay with writing about garbage like videogames,stay away from movies.