Once again, GreenEggsNSamm and I trooped out to the theater to see a movie. What did we pick? Our choice my surprise you! Red Riding Hood is a Twilight inspired revamping of the classic Grimm’s fairytale. It wasn’t the premise that got our attention. It was one particular cast member: Michael Shanks!
On one of the three occasions that I was lucky enough to see Don S. Davis, a character actor who was as much loved for his story telling as his portrayal of General George Hammond on Stargate SG-1, Don talked about the immense talents of his co-stars. In regards to Michael Shanks, I remember Don saying that it would be a terrible shame if Michael didn’t make it to the big screen. I’m sure Don is smiling in heaven right now because his friend has finally made it! Michael even got to go to the Los Angeles premiere at the Grauman’s Chinese Theater! Plus, Michael may have another theatrical appearance this year! According to MichaelShanksOnline (MSOL), one of Michael’s recent projects, Hanger 14, has the potential for a theatrical release this summer, though it could also just go straight to DVD. This SpaceGypsy is praying for the former!
It was great to see Michael acting again. I expected him to have a beard, but he was clean shaven, or at least as clean shaven as you could expect a man to be during the time period the movie is set in. His character was all tough and courageous, though the frowning scowl he had at one point just made me giggle! His lines were far too few, and obviously he was very underused with no chances to show off his inestimable talent, but for the screen time he was given he did a great job!
Unfortunately, my fellow Stargate fans know that Michael does a stellar “dying or dead”. It should come as absolutely no surprise to any of us that he got to do it again, right? I mean honestly, after seeing this paparazzi photo from the set, I knew exactly what was going to happen. Poor Michael, he must feel cursed! But wait, it gets worse! Not only does Michael get killed twenty minutes into the movie, accompanied by a scream reminiscent of his scream from Stargate SG-1’s ‘Lifeboat’, but he has to lie around dead for another five minutes or so! First we see him get carried out of the cave where he was killed, then he gets carted through the village, and then we finally see him laid out, as if for a wake. Each time we see him the white powder they put on his face got thicker! Each time we saw him I whimpered and GreenEggsNSamm giggled at me! Then by way of explanation we see him in a flashback as the wolf viciously rips his guts out!
Well, at least it’s good to know that, given what he said in a recent interview with Gateworld, he had fun filming Red Riding Hood!
The movie had several truly gross moments. It is just wrong on so many levels to have a werewolf attack and kill a beautiful white horse! But even that was not as disgusting as having to watch Father Solomon (Gary Oldman) dig his silver nailed fingers into a piece of obviously undercooked meat and eat it! Anyone who didn’t say “Ew!” along with GreenEggsNSamm and I was definitely cringing and looking away! Would you like some salmonella with your mystery meat, Mr. Oldman?
Since I haven’t seen nearly as many werewolf movies as GreenEggsNSamm has, I don’t have a very strong opinion on what a werewolf should or shouldn’t look like. However, I couldn’t help but notice how much the wolf of Red Riding Hood reminded me of Gmork from The Neverending Story. That was made in 1984. The biggest difference was that the wolf in Red Riding Hood was CG instead of animatronic. And we got to see the whole body for more than just when it was dead. Otherwise, the concept wasn’t original to say the least. The scare factor of the wolf wasn’t so bad though. I would have to say that they both startled me in about the same way. Granted, I was about seven years old when I saw The Neverending Story on TV, and Gmork came close to nightmare material for me. I won’t be having nightmares about Red‘s wolf, but I really am not anxious to see that ugly mug again!
Some of the soundtrack of the movie was good, and some of it was awful. In particular, the music that was played while the village celebrated the death of the wolf – or so they thought – was especially bad. I couldn’t understand the lyrics, and the singing seemed to clash with the rest of the piece, resulting in a cacophony of mismatched sounds. It might have been alright if it had only been playing for a couple of minutes. But no, it at least seemed to last a lot longer than that, until it really started to bother me.
WARNING: I’m about to bust the plot wide open and reveal who the wolf is, so if you don’t want to know, skip down to my last paragraph for my spoiler-free last thoughts!
For a character who lasted so little time, Adrien Lazar (Michael Shanks) actually had a huge impact on the plot. The heroine, Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) has a nice little heart to heart with her mother, Suzette (Virginia Madsen) about how much she doesn’t want to marry Henry Lazar (Max Irons). Suzette, knowing full well that her daughter loves another man, admits that she found herself in the exact same situation. She didn’t love Cesaire (Billy Burke) when they married, and she had despritely loved another man. Later when Valerie sees her mother tearfully standing over Adrien’s body, she puts two and two together. What’s more, we learn that Lucy, Virginia’s sister, was really Adrien’s daughter!
This fact becomes a catalyst for the entire story. Go figure. How often do lies and infidelity cause problems, right? Here’s the kicker. Cesaire is the wolf! He manages to hid it from his wife and his mother, just as his father did before him. However, he suddenly longs for freedom, but he loves his daughters and doesn’t want to leave them behind. Instead he wants them to come with him and he wants them to be werewolves like him. Because his daughters have half werewolf blood, they can hear him speak while he is in the form of the wolf. But poor Lucy. Her father tricked her and lured her out on a wolf night, when everyone else had locked themselves inside. He tried to speak to her, but she couldn’t understand him. That’s when Cesaire realized that Lucy was not his child and Suzette lied to him.
What’s more, Cesaire must have known when he and Suzette married that she had loved Adrien. He immediately knew who Lucy’s real father must have been. When a bunch of the village men went to hunt the wolf and avenge Lucy’s death, Cesaire went with them. As soon as Adrien was alone aside from the cowardly Henry, Cesaire snuck away from the others, transformed, and attacked and killed Adrien. Pardon me while I whimper some more. At least it wasn’t just another random pointless death, right Michael?
All in all, Red Riding Hood is absolutely not the kind of movie that I would ever have chosen to see if it hadn’t been for Michael Shanks’ participation. The first twenty or twenty five minutes were entirely worth it because it was such a joy to see him on the big screen. After that, only a mild desire to know who the wolf really was kept me at all engaged in the story. Twilight fans may find that it’s just what they need to satisfy them until their next movie arrives . . . or maybe not? I would love to get the opinion of a Twilight fan on whether Red Riding Hood meets their standards, or is it just a Twilight want-to-be?
I award Red Riding Hood two wagons solely for their casting choice for Adrien Lazar.