I really like the idea of updating or remaking classic fairytales for a modern, movie audience. Not necessarily making them darker but there is definitely a draw towards telling these stories in their full, dark, original versions. A lot of these fairytales were not intended to be told as bedtime stories and if you go back to the source material, they are full of a lot of much more mature material and do not always end with a “happily ever after.”
Even though I haven’t seen either of the new Snow White movies, I do like the look of the “and the Huntsman” version. I have also seen a trailer for Jack the Giant Killer which looks decent enough and there is also Hansel and Gretel appearing at some point too. All these have great scope for some “original” storytelling or putting a new twist on a classic, familiar tale. It’s the “original” storytelling point I’ll stick with here, because Red Riding Hood struggles with this.
I don’t mean the fact that it’s a retelling of a story most people will be hugely familiar with. I did watch the film expecting a red coat, a wolf, a grandma and a forest but the idea that they could build on those ingredients and create a werewolf story or a tale of a young female outsider seemed like a good one. They didn’t decide to focus on that though, instead they created Red Riding Twilight.
The film about the wolf and a young girl who seems attached to the scary creature wasn’t at the forefront of the film. Instead it was a movie about a young girl torn between two competing men, one of which is good, wholesome and heroic, the other is darker, dangerous and the one she is ultimately much more attracted too. Sounds a lot like that vampire franchise. Add that one of the men could well be the wolf she fears and you could practically call one of these male leads Jacob!
It has everything from the longing stares, the competing, testosterone filled man versus man scenes and the teenagers misunderstood by their parents that these teenage dramas heavily rely on. This could well have been called Red Riding 90210 or The OC Riding Hood. It painfully shared most of its characteristics with Twilight though and in places felt like a carbon copy. It was so badly trying to appeal to that audience that it forgot about creating an original film.
That doesn’t mean there weren’t some great aspects in Red Riding Hood but they were lost under the longing stares and boring love triangle. There is a werewolf on the loose and the film actually does a really good job of keeping you guessing to who that wolf could actually be. I was driving my girlfriend crazy with each new suggestion I had and I still got it wrong!
The other key positive of the movie is the film-stealing Gary Oldman. Why he agreed to do a film which is so clearly a Twilight cash-in/rip-off is beyond me but it definitely looked like he had fun playing the werewolf obsessed villain of the movie and he was able to demonstrate why he plays villains like almost nobody else! I’d love a Gary Oldman/Alan Rickman team-up that only Bruce Willis could defeat!
Even Gary Oldman isn’t enough to save this missed opportunity though. He isn’t in the film enough to get you through the longing stares, missed messages and faked, teen peril that got boring after the first Twilight! Even the reveal of who the werewolf actually is may leave some people feeling slightly cheated.
Overall, I really hope the other fairytale films try to be slightly more original than this. The source material is great and there are some fantastic ideas in here but the film so desperately wants to be Twilight that it forgets to create an original, intelligent re-telling of a classic story. At least Hansel and Gretel stars Jeremy Renner which can’t possibly be bad!
(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)