Apr 27, 2011|
(USA) Directed by Catherine Hardwicke. Starring Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Julie Christie, Max Irons, Shiloh Fernandez, Virginia Madsen, Lukas Haas. Category IIA.
Who done it? Does our innocent heroine have a dark side? Which handsome, broody hunk will she choose to be with?—If there’s a universe in which these questions are remotely worth answering, it definitely doesn’t belong to Catherine Hardwicke’s utterly brainless, pointless and ludicrous rendition of the Grimms’ classic fairytale. In the universe of Hardwicke, who made the first “Twilight” three years ago, got fired from the sequels, then followed the exact same template in her even worse next project, “Red Riding Hood,” the only questions I find worth answering are “Why is she still in the business?” and “Is it too late for me to switch to a new career that doesn’t require me to sit through crap like this?”
This is certainly not the “Little Red Riding Hood” that your mom used to read to you before tucking you in—that wouldn’t be sexy and emo at all. Set in an isolated, wolf-plagued medieval village, “Red” stars Amanda Seyfried (What big eyes and red lips she has!) as the titular character, a young woman named Valerie who’s in love with childhood sweetheart, woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but is arranged by her mother (Virginia Madsen) to marry the wealthier blacksmith, Henry (Jeremy Irons’ son, Max). For centuries, villagers have been making livestock sacrifices to the wolf in exchange for peace, but one day, the beast suddenly breaks the agreement and kills Valerie’s older sister, which not only hinders Valerie and Peter’s plan of elopement, but also enrages the whole village.
Famous wolf-hunter (and secret psycho sadist) Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) is called in to help, and he surely makes an extravagant entrance by arriving in a carriage with a squad of buff men and a humungous iron elephant (don’t ask)—all of them decorated with stylishly gothic crucifixes, of course. He informs the folks that the wolf is in fact a werewolf, and he or she is living among them in human form. Paranoia creeps as villagers start turning against each other, and apparently the werewolf is someone close to Valerie. So could it be the dangerous Peter? Could it be the quiet Henry? Or—heaven forbid!—maybe Grandma (Julie Christie), who lives alone in a cabin deep in the woods and is always making that yucky soup?
Alas, no one bloody cares, actually. Buds of suspense don’t stand a chance in the storm of Hardwicke’s clumsy direction, largely intensified by an atrocious editing job, tactless handheld camerawork and most crucially, David Johnson’s completely amateur screenwriting effort. But wait, there’s still a love triangle for us to perv on, right? Just like Bella Swan, poor Valerie has to choose between two very attractive and devoted suitors, and the filmmaker clearly intends to electrify the audience with the smoldering desire between her good-looking stars, none of whom wear enough clothes for the wintry weather. Even that blood-red cloak is obviously employed as a symbol of womanhood—be it menstruation or the loss of virginity. But then again, all aphrodisiac potentials sink into a poorly imagined nympho daydream as the young leads start to deliver Johnson’s dreadfully awkward lines in the unbearably clichéd romance. It’s a shame that after “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown,” Hardwicke decided to reset her career direction from making decent films with insights on teenage angst and rebellion, to whipping out big-budget, low-grade flicks to fulfill her own teenybopper fantasies.
“Red” does have a beautiful production design by Tom Sanders (Coppola’s “Dracula”) and capable actors such as Oldman and Christie, but they all become a massive waste in the end. The indie/electro music soundtrack is arguably well used, save maybe the part where the villagers dance to hip-hoppish tunes at what appears to be a heathen party. Sigh, and I thought “Twilight” was ridiculous.