Review: Red Riding Hood Blu-ray

Red Riding Hood Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Warner | DIRECTOR: Catherine Hardwicke | CAST: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Virginia Madsen, Billy Burke
RELEASE DATE:
6/14/11 | PRICE: Blu-ray/DVD Combo $35.99, Blu-ray $29.98, DVD $28.98
BONUSES: deleted scenes; BD adds alternate version, adds picture-in-picture commentary, featurettes, rehearsal, casting tapes, more; BD/DVD combo adds digital copy
SPECS: PG-13 | 100 min. | Fantasy horror | 2.35:1 widescreen | DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1/Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish, French and Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Red Riding Hood

Amanda Seyfried is Red Riding Hood.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Red Riding Hood, a re-imagining of the classic fairy tale by Catherine Hardwicke, whose distinct vision can be identified in such films as Twilight (2008) and Thirteen (2003). I just wish that her apparent vision of Red Riding Hood didn’t translate into such a cheesy, lukewarm film.

It’s set in a wintry forest village in some unspecified, European-ish past where the young beauty Valerie (Chloe’s ever-dewy Amanda Seyfried, looking like the perfect fairy tale heroine) is ordered by her father to marry the community’s rich kid (Max Irons, Dorian Gray), though she’s way more into an even hunkier peasant boy (Shiloh Fernandez, Cadillac Records). Sadly, Val has to put her growing passions on hold after a ravenous wolf gobbles up her sister and threatens the entire village. A weapons-toting, wolf-hunting zealot (a scenery-chewing Gary Oldman, Air Force One) is called in to put a stop to the lupine predatory and give the village’s teens a coming-of-age story minus the bloodshed.

It’s geared for a teenage audience, yes, but Red Riding Hood plays it with a bit too much soapiness and camp to be taken seriously. That the film is filled with surprisingly sloppy CGI and a production design that looks deliberately artificial doesn’t help. We know a “fairy tale” isn’t supposed to be real, but shouldn’t there be a sense of reality in the storytelling to make us care about the narrative. How seriously are we supposed to take the film and how much can we invest in it emotionally if the production winks at us (deliberately or not) via an artificiality that can’t be escaped?

Red Riding Hood’s color palette bursts to the point of garishness in the high-definition rendering of the film, particularly (and not surprisingly) the reds of Seyfried’s hooded cloak and the blood that’s spilled onto the snowy landscapes. The overly saturated image doesn’t help deliver the aforementioned emotions the film is aiming for, creating more of a carnival atmosphere than that of dark fantasy. The audio experience caters more to the film’s intentions, the guttural growls of the wolves and the leafy rustling of the forest creating a dreamy, immersive tone.

Speaking of bursting, let’s talk about the Blu-ray’s supplemental package. Led by a livelier-than-the-movie picture-in-picture commentary by director Catherine Hardwicke and her videogenic cast, the list of supplements never ends. Most prominent (though least engaging) are the casting tapes of co-stars Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons, whom we also see working with other members of the cast in a collection of rehearsal sequences. The usual featurettes on the movie’s F/X, characters, scoring and scenic design are all there, as are the requisite deleted scenes, gag reel and music video.

The best and arguably most creative of the bunch is “Red Riding Hood in 73 seconds,” a minute-plus fast-forward whoosh of the entire movie. It’s lots of fun — for 73 seconds — but it’s still a little too long.

 

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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.