You can clearly tell this is from the director of Twilight as Catherine Hardwicke takes the classic folk tale and breathes a tween romance and heavily washed out tone to the proceedings. It works here though in making the iconic red coat and hood stand out all the more, even if the romantic side of things feels cheesy there’s still slightly enough in the way of action and mystery to keep you watching.
Obviously you must know the plot in terms of the roots it stems from, well here it gets turned on it’s head slightly with sprightly Hood now called Valerie (Amanda Seyfried), the prettiest of her siblings who is arranged to marry Henry Lazar (Max Irons) even though she wishes to flee the village with woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). That romantic triangle cheese ball gets threatened with the full moon ritual of a wolf terrorizing the village. The arrival of hunter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) makes them realise the wolf is one of them and Valerie may be the only one to get that secret uncovered.
It’s a shame the script by David Leslie Johnson is chockablock with cliche ridden drama and cheese stringed romance. Some of the lines honestly take you miles out of the movie as you either laugh or cringe at how obviously written the dialogue is. It pains to see Seyfried or Oldman have to deliver such awful words. The actual love triangle thing itself is boring and been done so many times and I couldn’t care less for Valerie and whoever she ends up with. It’s this whole washed out angsty vibe that was big at the time with a demographic that lapped up strained romantic qualities. The writing of the mystery of who is the werewolf is also never inspiring or out-there-wow-oh-my-what-a-twist sort of material. In fact there’s too many options gifted of other suspects making it clear it’s not them and I pegged the correct figure behind the teeth and fur halfway through before forgetting all about it in the lack of interesting progression.
The village itself looks very Brothers Grimm inspired and has that snowy postcard look of a story such as this but I just don’t get why it needed to be done at all as a modern movie with changes. The palette is very Twilight, the feel is also that category of dark fantasy but the funny thing is it never feels that dark really. The only dark aspect which I liked and got me drawn back into the movie was the elephant used as torture, where a human is subjected to being stuffed in a hollow elephant over a fire until they talk….or die. The look of the wolf is another unfortunate weak point with the CGI failing to give you goosebumps as the wolf looks more like the Animagus of Sirius Black, all the more odd considering he’s in this damn film and in ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’ Black’s dog was more scary anyway.
Amanda Seyfried is beautifully captivating as the central character and does the best to make you feel for Valerie as a character and at few infrequent moments I did but that’s not down to her acting, that’s thanks to the shoddy workings of the script. Seyfried looks the part and what big eyes she has to convey all the emotions needed but even her grace and talent can’t shake you from realising the film doesn’t have much to offer. Gary Oldman pulls out another dud in his film career where he seems to rock from hit to fail all the time. Another character with that weird accent and villainous air to add to his bow though aside from exploitation devices, hammy acting and cheesy dialogue he does provide a reasonable counter part to Seyfried’s heroine.
This is a pretty bad movie though not as horrendously bad as others have said, I preferred watching this to the last film I reviewed, ‘Dazed and Confused’. If you can look past the lack of darkness, tension, sexual connections, bad writing, visuals and a surreal dire last scene of dreams and endings then there’s an okay film to see here. Like only just scraping being okay by the claws of the big bad wolf.