Review in a Hurry: The original fairy tale, as you know, is about the little girl who takes an unfortunate trip to grandma's house. In Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke's version, the girl (Amanda Seyfried) isn't so little, and the nefarious wolf is the mythological "it" creature du jour, a werewolf. The result, however, is still the same: unfortunate.
The Bigger Picture: Valerie (Seyfried) lives in a little village at the edge of a dark forest. One day while out frolicking with her bad-boy love interest, Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), the town's wolf-bell tolls, alerting them that beast they've been fighting for generations has killed again. Of course, this angers the village's men and so they, including pretty boy Peter and nice guy Henry (Max Irons), whom Valerie's parents have arranged for her to marry, break out the booze and head out to kill the thing.
The love triangle is one of the first things to fail here. When you find yourself rooting for one of the guys (hint, it's the pretty one) to get eaten by the wolf, it's safe to say that the shallow attempt at portraying "true love" isn't working.
The men soon return with a wolf's head on a stake, dancing around like merry fools. Enter Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), professional wolf catcher and nutbag. Solomon warns the village that their wolf is still on the prowl, and that it's not just some overgrown dog, that it's actually a werewolf! Who, by day, takes on a human form. And coincidentally, because it's a special three-day blood-moon, anyone who is bitten during this period shall, too, turn into a killer werewolf.
This news sends the townspeople into a frenzy and everyone is suddenly suspect. Paranoia and the mistrust of friends and neighbors are themes ripe with potential (Scream, anyone?). Unfortunately, Hardwicke misses the opportunity to deliver all but the expected here.
The audience doesn't get the chance to fully play along with the villagers in trying to figure out who the wolf is. True, we are given a few shots at questioning some motivations, but the filmmakers would rather have us watch the wolf show up and put on a show, using fancy effects, than see nuanced characters being developed.
The tale of the big bad wolf waiting at granny's has been modified enough times that unlike, say, Titanic, we can't automatically assume to know what happens at the end. And as it turns out, finding and conquering the wolf is actually an evenly paced, though silly, adventure.
(Originally published March 10, 2011, at 4:22 p.m. PT)
The interactions of the townspeople, however, are often community theatre-esque and unintentionally funny. Especially bizarre, and even distracting, is Peter's appearance. While the rest of the men look like the rugged mountain types they're supposed to be portraying, perfectly coiffed Peter looks like he just stepped off the set of a CW show sporting a medieval fauxhawk.
Hardwicke was able to curate her main characters into delivering enjoyable performances, but everything else is kind of a mess. The cinematography ranges from beautiful aerial pans of the forest to shaky, dizzy-inducing hand-held shots. The dialogue is often trite and full of clichs.
And the end of the movie, after so much hype and build up, is very anti-climatic.
The 180--a Second Opinion: If you're waaaay into fantasy fairy tale theater, you won't mind all of Hood's hiccups and shortfalls. For everyone else, you might find this movie somewhat enjoyable, but you'll catch yourself rolling your eyes and giving quizzical faces along the way.