Sofia Coppola and now Catherine Hardwicke are making my mission to support women directors a wee bit tough. Coppola’s Somewhere bored me and angered me in equal measure, turning me into something resembling a lobotomized pit bull, and watching Catherine Hardwicke’s pricey new take on Red Riding Hood just made me feel kinda embarrassed. For everyone in it. And for the crew. And for the werewolf. And mostly for Julie Christie as the subtly CGI-ified granny sporting long dreadlocks.

This new take on the classic fairy tale looks pretty enough, and the CGI werewolf I pity actually looked pretty legit, which is tough to pull off — remember the werewolves in the second Twilight movie? Pretty lame. Hardwicke doesn’t manage to get decent performances out of her actors, but she managed not to have her CGI werewolves look like something out of an ultra low-budget Romanian horror movie a la New Moon.

Hit the jump to continue reading The Elf’s review…

Red Riding Hood — like Coppola’s films — boasts a solid soundtrack (Fever Ray, The Big Pink, Yeah Yeah Yeahs etc, yet I am pretty sure the opening score ripped off The xx and didn’t credit them so if that’s true that negates any coolness the soundtrack lends to the flick), but at the end of the day the movie feels like a mashup between Twilight and a humorless, poor man’s version of True Blood. Ten minutes into Red Riding Hood the urge to bolt seized every fiber of my being, but I held fast and kept my ass in the seat. Through the wooden performances (hello, wide-eyed, pouty lipped Amanda Seyfried), through the flat, contrived dialogue. Even through a trail of red herrings tossed out so randomly and so often I got the psychological equivalent of whiplash. It’s also distracting that Red Riding Hood’s two male suitors, played by Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons, look like they rolled off the Hollywood casting couch, didn’t bother changing their 21st century emo expressions or 21st century hipster hairdos, threw on some dungarees or whatever and just went to town.

Hardwicke and writer David Johnson definitely pushed the Twilight level teen romance angle, rather than the horror angle that’s been diluted by all the lusty adolescent posturing. Gary Oldman manages to keep his duplicitous character Solomon from falling into pure camp and he’s fun to watch as always. Seyfried mainly looks like a frightened blow up doll though her many scenes, and Virginia Madsen looks pretty and voluptuous as red Riding Hood’s mamma. Besides Oldman’s charisma and the impressive cinematography, really the only thing that held my interest was that burning question: Which one of the characters actually is the big bad werewolf? It’s the mystery that holds the story together, and despite the red herring whiplash I felt the need to know. Problem is, the reveal — after so many false and contrived clues — proves to be about as exciting as listening to a city council meeting on the radio. No spoilers about who turns out to be the werewolf but don’t expect to hear a collective gasp or anything.

Maybe if I were a thirteen-year-old prepubescent Girl Scout I’d love and adore Red Riding Hood. I’d think the pasty emo boys were sooooo totally cute and I’d want to look just like Seyfried with her blonde hair and big blue eyes and movie star glamor. But I’m not a Girl Scout anymore, so I say leave this sentimental, poorly directed mess to all the baby Twilight fans out there.

Follow The Elf on Twitter @TheElf26

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