INTERN’S VIEW: ‘Red Riding Hood’ Example Of Everything Wrong With Films Today


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by Philip Benais

Red Riding Hood; Directed By Catherine Hardwicke: Starring Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Shiloh Fernandez, Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie and Max Irons.

Being a legitimate cinema lover is a tough act to follow sometimes; for every 2001: A Space Odyssey or Solyaris, a new kind of entertainment rears its head in the form of Pierre Kirby and Reb Brown style exploitation films. While technically some of the worst films ever made, these trashy gems provide hours upon hours of laughter and enjoyment. There is of course, another strain of terrible films. The kind of derivative hogwash that fancies itself as something more. Twilight has been the reigning champ of this sort of film ever since the atrocious ‘novels’ were adapted by a director known primarily for retelling the story of Jesus Christ’s birth. Indeed, many brain dead tweens have adopted The Twilight Saga as their gospel on romantic fiction. I am neither twelve years old nor mentally challenged so naturally I view Twilight as an embarrassment to vampires, werewolves and romance. When you’ve seen Casablanca (in my mind the greatest romance film of all time) mopey valley girls and vacuous pretty boys who sparkle just don’t have the same effect as on someone with no knowledge of culture or taste. Lo and behold in 2011 Catherine Hardwicke has chosen to revert back to the hellish formula that made her so successful, only this time also bastardizing a classic fable of everyone’s childhood. Of course, I’m sugarcoating it right now; Red Riding Hood is not only a prime example of everything wrong with films today, but also one of the worst adaptations and love stories of all time. If there is a film worse than Red Riding Hood this year, I will officially give up hope for the film industry. To reach this level of abject misery takes a certain anti-talent, the likes of which M. Night Shyamalan is ridiculed for these days. Move over M. Night, there’s a new queen of bad films in town.

The story (as plagiarized from Stephanie Meyer of all people) follows Valerie, the not quite Bella Swan who falls in love with Edward Cullen and Joaquin Phoenix’s love child. They live in a village terrorized by a dog (er, ‘werewolf’) whose villagers have grown accustomed to sacrificing livestock every full moon. Valerie’s sister is then killed after speaking no lines of dialogue and eventually an outsider is brought in to deal with the problem. Enter Gary Oldman, a tough as nails inquisition type with one of the most entertaining two dollar accents this side of Nicolas Cage in Con Air. As all of the ‘wolf’ hysteria continues Valerie has to choose between the man she loves and the man her family wants her to marry, even though they’re both doe-eyed simpletons without an ounce of humanity. Will the villagers fend off the beast? Will Valerie find true love? Will Gary Oldman finally tell us which accent he’s butchering? All of these questions and more are shoddily answered in a film that runs for an eternity.

Let’s dive right into the root of the problem with this ‘love story’; most importantly how it is NOT a love story. When the best Hollywood screenwriters can do is present sloppy, two dimensional and unforgivingly boring characters that presents a quandary. In a love story the idea is to present two characters drawn together or torn apart by an emotion they grow to understand through conflicts and joys alike. When the only set up you have is that some delirious bimbo has to choose between two hunks of interchangeable meat that spout cliched lines, all you hope for is that the boys get killed and the girl finds a nice companion of the same sex. THAT would make things slightly interesting, but instead we’re stuck with the shameless retreading of the Twilight nonsense, so much so that I was expecting Shiloh Fernandez to mess up a line and call Amanda Seyfried ‘Bella’. At least then the film would have been honest with itself as a cheap cash in, as opposed to a darker take on a classic story like what Alan Moore did with Lost Girls (which would make a great film by the way).

Furthermore, the beast in the film is not a werewolf. It’s a dog who was injected with one too many steroids. It would be better to combat it with a bone and repeating the words ‘Bad Fido’. When the romance and the monster both blow chunks in your tween mental masturbation, it’s time to consider some other genre of film. There is laughter to be had whenever Gary Oldman is chewing the scenery, but between the destruction of the source material and the horrendous reference to Three Little Pigs (spin off bait?) amongst all the other atrocities Red Riding Hood is not worth your time, money or thought. After you read this, forget everything you know about this trainwreck. Do yourself a favor; stay home, rent Casablanca and enjoy a true classic. Gary Oldman may have given this film a half star rating, but the real question is not about this ‘film’. It’s a question about Gary Oldman; from Bram Stoker’s Dracula to Red Riding Hood, who knows what the future holds for one of my favorite actors? Everyone else might as well quit now or forever be doomed to a purgatory of Twilight rip offs.

Rating: ½ / *****

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: Philip Benais is our newest Intern, a 16-year old student at Big Picture High School in SeaTac. He’s an aspiring Writer who loves movies, so we let him write reviews for us.

Read more of his work here.]

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