Red Riding Hood comes to Region Free US Blu-ray complete with a rich, often dream-like 1080p High Definition video rendition which caters perfectly for the movie’s alternative fairytale stylisation, and which comes presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.4:1. Detail is generally quite good, softness only occasionally rearing its ugly head and, even then, only, it seems, at the request of the filmmakers – often seeking to either smother their obviously artificial sets using muddy filters, or obscure their CG beast. The colour scheme is rich, perhaps a little in the extreme, occasionally resulting in some bleeding, and overbearing blacks which dominate whenever they get half a chance. Other digital issues – like DNR or edge enhancement – are never a problem, and, were it not for the style of the production, which seems to, inevitably, lead to a drop in quality, this could have been a demo quality video presentation for this fantasy flick. Still, it’s really quite good nonetheless, a charming transfer for a film which far from deserves such lavish treatment.
The accompanying dts-HD Master Audio 5.1 track hits all the right notes too, almost besting the video presentation, despite still erring on the cautious side of demo-quality. Dialogue comes across clearly and coherently, largely dominating the frontal array – and, in fact, this is quite a front-dominant track, but for the energetic (occasionally out of place) score which is peppered with modern beats and Twilight-esque overtones. Effects range from creepy forest sounds to snarling wolves, with torches crackling as their flames snap at the cold air, arrows whizzing across your living room and screams echoing out into the night. With some noticeable directionality there’s little to complain about here, even if the rears seldom offer noteworthy back-up. Bass gives the track some presence, and overall this a good, perhaps not quite great, audio accompaniment.
Aside from the Alternate Cut, which really is pretty unexceptional, we do get a selection of unintentionally entertaining extra features, made enjoyable (particularly for non-ardent fans) mainly because of the overt clash of personalities between some of the cast and crew.
Picture in Picture Commentary
Secrets Behind the Red Cloak is a full-length video commentary (complete with behind the scenes snippets and storyboard comparisons) which boasts input from the director herself, Catherine Hardwicke, who is joined by the lead trio of cast members, Amanda Seyfried, Shiloh Fernandez and Max Irons. I’ve previously heard from Hardwicke on Twilight, and she always appears to be on an entirely different plane to everybody else (on the planet), and here is no exception. There’s scant technical detail, no real insight, just a lot of somewhat random observations about the project. Add into the mix the volatile, somewhat immature temperament of Seyfried – who seems content to butt heads with just about everybody else involved in the production – and you have quite an awkward video commentary, which is just brimming with uncomfortable tension and brooding animosity. Seyfried is quite outspoken – she’s clearly not afraid to spout forth about what she loves and loathes – and it leaves her fellow commentators often out in the cold, or unsure as to how to respond. Her overbearing animal rights attitude really doesn’t do her any favours, painting her as something of an extremist herself, and she definitely has all the makings of a young prima donna. Entertaining, for all the wrong reasons.
Behind the Story offers up over half an hour of background material (much of which can be tasted during the PiP track), split into 7 different Featurettes: The Reinvention of Red Riding Hood, which looks at adapting the classic folk tale; Red’s Men, which has a look at the male cast and offers us clips of their audition tapes (expanded on in Casting Tapes); Making of the Score speaks for itself; Before the Fur looks briefly at the CG werewolf; Rehearsals gives us three brief background looks at the cast rehearsing; and Red Riding Hood in 73 Seconds attempts to be quite clever, but unfortunately merely highlights the problems with adapting such an anorexic short story into a full-length feature.
Deleted Scenes total 4 minutes of extra footage. So, aside from the Alternate Cut footage, we also get a number of pretty throwaway extra scenes, which really couldn’t have helped this film at all (what could?!). At least it’s not much to have to trawl through.
Gag Reel runs at 3 minutes and, as is increasingly the case, isn’t in the least bit funny. Filmmakers have definitely rinsed the ‘gag reel’ concept in the years since it was cool to include this revealing, humorous background look.
Music Videos number two and total 6 minutes in runtime: Just a Fragment of You by Anthony Gonzalez and Brian Reitzell and The Wolf by Fever Ray. Ever seen the music videos for the Twilight films? Well, you know what to expect then.
There are also a number of Preview trailers on disc start-up as well as a really throwaway 30-second Easter Egg which has Hardwicke behind the scenes, and is accessible by selecting the blank space to the right of the last menu option (i.e. the music videos). Pretty easy to spot, pretty pointless.
The Twilight Saga: Red Riding Hood would have been a more appropriate title, as this is little more than an unholy union between that particularly anaemic vampires-with-no-bite franchise and far classier productions like The Village, borrowing familiar ideas from both and offering a tasteless end result which is little more than: angst-driven girl, caught between two moody, broody guys who are both after her (and who both showcase much more hair-product than would have been available at the time), whilst a town goes into panic-mode after dead bodies start appearing – fearing a werewolf may have been involved. Really, in what way is this not a Twilight spin-off? Hell, it’s even got the same director and some of the same cast. Unfortunately this terrible production doesn’t quite reach that ‘so bad that it’s surprisingly entertaining’ level that Twilight achieved and I can’t imagine anybody being in the least bit impressed by this botched adaptation of the classic fairytale.
On Region Free US Blu-ray we get decent video and audio, as well as a selection of extras, leaving this a healthy purchase for those few fans out there who wish to complete their collection. And if you want to ignore all of the warnings from both my review and numerous others and still pick up this turkey, then at least you get a solid Blu-ray release to waste your money on. Honestly though, I’d veer more towards a rental. And even then, only if you really have to. Insipid.
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