Movies are divided into two categories: those you want to see and those you don’t. The movies you want to see are the ones you want to shell out $13 for and you don’t care if you have to sit next to a guy who texts his roommate about what kind of crops he wants to plant in his FarmVille farm throughout the whole screening. The movies you don’t want to see are obviously defined as the ones you’re not willing to do that for. But occasionally a movie will come out where you’re not dying to go see it in the theaters but you’re still kind of interested in what it has to offer. These are the movies you rent on DVD. They’re cheaper than the cost of a theater ticket and you have the ability to stop watching it without feeling bad about wasting money. But how come the introduction to this Blu-ray review is about such fundamental concepts regarding the movie going experience and how does it relate to Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood? I’ll tell you: it’s because Catherine Hardwicke’s Red Riding Hood is part of a very exclusive club of movies that make up a secret third category: the movies that aren’t even worth the price of renting.
Anyone who watched Red Riding Hood can figure out what Catherine Hardwicke was trying to do when she made it: she was reminding us that before the sweet Brothers Grimm tale of the innocent girl who met a wolf while delivering goods to her sick grandmother was Charles Perrault’s version that he wrote to entertain King Louis XIV in the late 17th century. Perrault’s story is known for being much darker and much more sexualized than the one parents tell their children before today. Red Riding Hood herself was meant to be a symbol of reaching sexual maturation and her red coat was supposed to be interpreted as the blood a virgin sheds upon a her first sexual experience.
But Hardwicke didn’t want to simply retell Perrault’s story – she obviously wanted to tell her own and she navigated this task by introducing enough new elements into the movie so the plot would seem reinvented. For instance she had Valerie (played by Amanda Seyfried) almost forced into an arranged marriage. She also made Valerie’s mother Suzette (played by Virginia Madsen) have two children with two different men. And Hardwicke even complicated the story by adding a villain in Father Soloman who embodies the figure we recognize from politics as the person who gains the poor villagers’ admiration for agreeing to help them but turns out to only be interested in helping himself. While all of these additions do make for new twists to the plot the problem was that the final product was a mess that insulted viewers’ intelligence. It seemed like Hardwicke just felt so much pressure to devise a new interpretation of the story that she completely lost sight of her source material. And while movies that tell stories in new ways can be exciting Hardwicke would have proved herself to be a much more capable filmmaker if she had managed to bring her style to the tale without flooding it with sludge.
But the people who did enjoy the movie (however few of them there are) will find the special features on the Blu-ray to be rewarding. There are a handful of extras that give fans insight as to how Red Riding Hood’s coat was designed how Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons were cast to be Amanda Seyfried’s love interests and there’s a bunch of rehearsal footage where we got to see actors practicing their dance moves and their fight scenes. But what I found most enjoyable was the (brief) section on how the wolf was digitally created. It was also cool to hear the actors talk about what it was like to film their scenes with the wolf (which was often represented to the actors as either a person dressed in fur or a wolf torso that was mounted on top of another actor) and talk about how they had nothing to rely on or help guide them through their lines. There’s also the usual suspects like commentary deleted scenes and a gag reel. Unfortunately it’s never a good sign when a person enjoys a DVD’s special features more than the actual movie.