I wonder, rather ponderously, how this film might have been envisioned if the Twilight phenomenon hadn't swept into the hearts of millions of adolescent females across the world. Nevertheless, regardless of how I - or quite likely anyone reading this - really feels about the story of Edward Cullen and his charmless lover, Bella Swan, it's happened, it was financially bloody successful and unfortunately now's the time for the loosely inspired spin-offs.
In what can only be expected as the first of many fairy tales, to be given the Twilight treatment (a modified version of Snow White is in the works), comes Red Riding Hood starring, Amanda Seyfried in the title role. All the elements of the original fairy tale surprisingly remain in some shoehorned form or another, while expanding the mythology into a forbidden love story and half hearted horror tale involving werewolves and would-be witches - one scene involving the infamous lines "Oh grandma, what big eyes you have," etc is downright unnerving.
Firstly let's not lie, there was an awful lot of this film which I didn't enjoy. Mainly the acting, ham fisted, cringe worthy and verging into the stuff of Christmas pantomimes. Though not as emotionless or infinitely dislikeable as Kristen Stewart in Twlight, Amanda Seyfried doesn't quite have enough compelling personality or mystique about her to carry off the central role. She seemed to lack just as much innocence as she did lustful darkness, which you got the impression was needed, given the hints to the character's back story.
The stand out performance was perhaps - unsurprisingly - the excellent, Julie Christie in the role as the strangely sinister Grandmother, whose role in the story was ambiguously shrouded until the film's final revelations. The males of the tale fared much better in the overall scheme of things. Dare I say, I even found Gary Oldman's descent into religious lunacy quite amusing, sparking faint memories of his performance in Francis Ford Coppola's decadent Gothic masterpiece, Bram Stoker's Dracula.
Only a sci-fi geek such as I would have smiled at the utterly random, minuscule, roles given to Michael Shanks (Stargate: SG1) and Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica), which at least held my attention until their untimely ends at the hands of the big bad wolf.
Visually director, Catherine Hardwicke borrows a lot from the similar kind of grand cinematic shots, bleach bypasses and striking colour contrasts she used when directing the first Twilight film. And taking ego out of the equation over what she's directed previously, I actually quite like the slick Gothic style she uses in her films. Would be interesting to take her out of this comfort zone she's crafted for herself and give her a film with a decent script.
Despite the awful dialogue and the much maligned acting, the film did have enough suspense to keep you guessing the identity of the werewolf until such revelations occur. However, some of the more risqué moments were uncomfortably pushing the boundaries of that 12A rating it was given. The ending was also perhaps slightly drawn out and resulted in such daftness to match even Twilight, which ultimately is very much a shame. The more rockier moments of the soundtrack dampened the atmosphere, at the expense of perhaps some beautiful mystifying orchestral moments which could have been implored.
While the acting is largely pretty comedic and the film's conclusion is arguably shrouded in hypocrisy, Red Riding Hood is still an inventive, if predictable, take on the legendary fairytale. Visually striking and updated to such effect which will undoubtedly keep many young women under the age of 18 largely entertained for its entire running time. All the lads out there who could potentially be dragged to such an event can at least take solace in knowing it's more entertaining than Twilight. Well, at least my little sister enjoyed it...
Red Riding Hood is in cinemas from April 15th 2011.