March 11, 2011, - 4:34 pm

Wknd Box Office: Red Riding Hood, Battle: Los Angeles

By Debbie Schlussel

Nothing too good at the movies, this weekend.  I did not see “Mars Needs Moms,” as it was screened on the Jewish Sabbath, so I couldn’t go.

*  “Red Riding Hood“:  This movie is being billed as “not your father’s Little Red Riding Hood” and “a darker version of Little Red Riding Hood.”  But let’s be accurate.  It’s just NOT Red Riding Hood–Little, Big, or Otherwise.  The movie has no resemblance at all to the fairy tale your parents told or read to you.  Not at all.  The only connection is that the “Red Riding Hood” in this movie (Amanda Seyfried) wears a hooded red cloak that her  grandmother (Julie Christie) made for her for her upcoming arranged marriage to a rich guy (instead of the poor guy she’s loved since childhood).  Also, in one brief scene, Seyfried repeats a few of the memorable lines from the fairy tale (“Grandmother, what big eyes you have,” etc.).

But other than those two remote connections to the actual fairy tale, this movie is just a dark, silly, slow, boring excuse for blood (just a little) and werewolves.  Yup, the wolf in this story is a human who becomes a werewolf and kills people in the small medieval village where Red Riding Hood a/k/a “Valerie” lives.  Valerie is in the midst of figuring out what to do in a love triangle–where she is set to marry someone other than the man she loves.  She also learns that her own mother was in a similar love triangle and that her dead sister (killed by the werewolf) is the illegitimate daughter of her mother and that man, not her mother’s husband.  Yup, “Red Riding Hood” is more a dull soap opera (albeit set in the Middle Ages) than anything having to do with a fairy tale.  Oh, and it’s anti-Christian, as one of the chief villains in the movie is a fraudulent werewolf fighter who is a Catholic crusader.  Think they’d ever do a movie like that where the charlatan is a Muslim imam?  Ha.

Seyfried’s “acting” is wooden and consists mostly of her pouting, looking sullen, and staring very intensely with her big eyes made bigger.  That’s not acting.  I fell asleep a couple of times and missed nothing.  Yup, it’s that interesting.  Don’t be fooled by the PG-13 rating.  This movie isn’t for kids.  Or for adults who have a life, instead of two hours and ten bucks to waste.


Watch the trailer . . .

*  “Battle:  Los Angeles“:  I love a good U.S. Marines versus outer space aliens flick as much as the next American patriot.  But this ain’t it.  With so much action and so many special effects, it was still so boring and long.  Over and over again, you see Marines fighting aliens who’ve invaded Los Angeles (and several others major cities across the U.S.) and losing.  We’re told the aliens have invaded earth to colonize it and take its natural resources.  To that end, they’re trying to wipe out the human race.

A Marine platoon headed by Aaron Eckhart courageously battles the aliens to the end, and after losing to them the entire movie (kinda like the U.S. in Afghanistan, which is mentioned in the movie as being not as bad), they finally figure it out (which is decidely NOT like Afghanistan, where we don’t kill and destroy to win and save American lives, but pass out candy and build mosques to hardcore Muslims to no avail).

I like the patriotism and very positive portrayal of U.S. Marines in this movie–a military portrayal that is all too uncommon from Hollywood, these days.  But that doesn’t make up for the fact that the movie just has no spark and is just lots of fighting and action with no story to go along with it.

Also, was it really necessary to add to a PG-13 movie, which otherwise was fine for kids, a disgusting joke about oral sex and a scene in which a Marine is harassed about being a virgin?

That I’m giving this any Reagans is only because it’s somewhat patriotic and spares nothing in showing our Marines to be the good guys.  But other than that, it’s really not a good movie.  There’s just no “there,” there.


Watch the trailer . . .

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21 Responses

Ahh, I had hoped Red Riding Hood would be good. Oh well.

John on March 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm

When I saw the trailer for Battle:LA I figured it would be wiser to rent Independence Day. Between your review and Roger Ebert’s, I’d say I was right.

vegasrider on March 11, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Red ridinghood is worse than debbie says. Think “twilight” bad.

What is up with very femine men playing the “hero” roles in movies these days?

Movie was very negative toward men and seems like the NOW wrote it

bard on March 11, 2011 at 6:34 pm

The trailer for RRH looked terrible, so how bad is the movie? When you can’t get one 30 second scene for a trailer, that’s all you need to know. Guys will go see it just to see the star.

JeffT on March 11, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Some versions of the many centuries old original Little Red Riding Hood story were quite gory and about werewolves wanting to eat people, others were just about a wolf. The later Disneyfied version goes to just a wolf dressing up like grandma etc. I have no idea if this movie is good or not, most Fairy Tails were quite scary and were toned down quite a bit during the Victorian era and later.

Ken Gerber on March 12, 2011 at 3:17 am

Amanda Seyfried is a cute, attractive woman who has a beautiful singing voice, and, because she does not have a cosmetically perfect, engineered face or body like a “Supermodel” she is even more attractive as a “real” girl-woman, rather than a manikin. I hate to see such an actress messing around with bad stories and bad movies.

William on March 12, 2011 at 4:08 am

Someone mentioned Ms. Seyfried’s “beautiful singing voice.” I suppose this is a reference to her co-starring in the “Mamma Mia” film (which I seem to recall Debbie referring to as “Homo Mia”). Plus her having co-starred in another film (“Letters to Juliet”) with long-standing PLO propagandist and serial Jew-hater Vanessa Redgrave – and “Chloe” (as a prostitute) with Julianne Moore. Not to mention “Jennifer’s Body” with the no-talent Megan Fox. As they say, three strikes . . .

ConcernedPatriot on March 12, 2011 at 8:55 am

Hey Debbie,
If you fell asleep a couple of times during the movie, how then do you know that you didn’t miss anything while you were asleep?

T.Y. on March 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Is Hollywood waving the white flag for surrender? With the 2011 movies we know about, Hollywood is out of ideas and passion.

Lars on March 12, 2011 at 1:16 pm

If anyone wants a good interpretation of Red Riding Hood, all you need to do is say the magic words…TEX AVERY!

Bob Porrazzo on March 12, 2011 at 3:00 pm

Wow. Red Riding Hood plays the “arranged marriage” card that Burton’s Alice in Wonderland played. Because, you know, to make the heroine a proto-feminist, they have to have her rebell against the greatest injustice apparently ever imposed on women…marrying someone you don’t love.

Alien invasions are boring. They were boring when Spielberg did War of the Worlds. District 9 was the only recent movie about aliens that was interesting.

Big Bad Fiancé on March 12, 2011 at 8:54 pm

I would not got to any of the new movies even if I got a free pass. Movies are supposed to life your spirit and make you feel good not bad like the movies they put out today.

they will never return to the great movies in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s. Another sign America is in trouble.

Fred on March 13, 2011 at 1:34 pm

This movie was horrible. I didn’t realize I was going to see Twilight set in the 1300’s. Thankfully I received an advance screening pass for this trainwreck. The only saving grace at all was some of the special effects.

Can’t blame the director for trying to milk a winning formula. I give this one three Reagan’s. For me that is your Marx stars

Trewsdetroit on March 13, 2011 at 5:18 pm

Just saw “Battle for LA” and loved it. No, it doesn’t have much of a story-line, but it’s from the perspective of grunts on the front-line. When do they ever get told what is going on?

Mark on March 13, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Debbie, NONE Of the fairy tales are like the originals. The Brothers Grimm wrote very graphic tales and they have been modified through the years to be told to children. The original writings were full of violence and blood.

Keith in Seattle on March 14, 2011 at 1:30 pm

I liked Battle: Los Angeles. Like you, Debbie, I was impressed by the patriotic tone of the film. Also, I agree with Mark above that the point of the film was to provide a picture of what it might be like for the grunts fighting in confusion on the front lines. This film was a far cry from Independence Day to which it is being compared (because of its similar plot). ID was a hammy, crowd-pandering, juvenile look at a war with aliens. To a similar extent, so was War of the Worlds. This film conscientiously set about to give a more serious look at the fighting. The portrait of the marines was the most sympathetic you will ever find from Hollywood.

Somewhat laughable is the way liberal critics have gone out of their way to viciously savage this film. Some have outright admitted that they disdained its martial spirit. Others have pretended to find fault with the screenplay. But where were these same critics after viewing Avatar which had the most appallingly clunky script in many years? Why didn’t the screenplay of that earlier film drive them nuts as it did you and me, Debbie? The difference is that Avatar was insistently anti-war, while this film is refreshingly pro-marine. Ebert has taken the lead here in his scorn, rating the film a half star. He attacked Battle with such ferocity that one critic over at Rotten Tomatoes did something that rarely occurs between professional critics; he called out Ebert, saying he was mystified by Ebert’s irrational vitriol. Once again, Ebert has made clear he’s not a real critic anymore, but simply a politically biased buffoon who despises any film which hints to him of possible conservative pushback.

Your own review of the film, Debbie, was fair and balanced. You mildly appreciated the patriotism of the film but didn’t find the stories of the men particularly engaging. I myself viewed the film as more a tone poem and concept than character study. If nothing else, the applause from the audience at the end of the film made me smile thinking about the way it would make liberal heads explode.

As for Little Red Riding Hood, although I agree that it was not a whole lot like the original Grimm’s fairy tale, I still liked it far, far more than Twilight to which it closely resembled. (Director Catherine Hardwicke was involved with both). This is soap opera for teen girls with fantasy elements, but unlike Twilight which repelled me for its teen-bubble narcissism, this gave more credit to the larger surrounding community of adults. Also, I found Amanda Seyfried more appealing in the lead than I did Kristin Stewart from Twilight, Seyfried’s character less gratingly inclined to wallow in self-indulgent teen idiocy.

Mars Needs Moms was brilliant, fun and wonderful. I loved it, not least because of its unambiguously parent-centered values. I kept rubbing my eyes during the film; I couldn’t believe Disney for once was not pandering to children, sending the corrupt message that it’s okay to be a brat since that’s all part of “growing up.” There’s a strong message in the film that parents should stop trying to be “pals” with kids and should take charge instead. The movie also worked as entertaining science fiction, the characters were likable, and in an astonishing twist for Disney, the dad was not presented as a clownish loser.

Burke on March 14, 2011 at 1:35 pm

i saw the red riding hoodand i thought the movie was great , yes it wasnt like it was in the book and i think it would’ve been worse if it was , so this version was perfect the colors the actors, everyone did a wonderful job , haters stop hating please

mimi on March 14, 2011 at 6:52 pm

Forget Red Riding Hood. I want to see “The Robber Bride.” Fingers being lopped off! Women being killed! Arranged marriage! Idiots ignoring warnings! Blood! Gore! Yeehaw!

The Brothers Grimm didn’t write the stories. They collected them from the folk tales people were already telling. And people have loved horror stories since time immemorial. The Robber Bride is one of the few published today that have kept much of the original horror.

Arranged marriage for horror works if one of the couple (or both) is already in love with someone else. If neither is already in love, and they go into it with the proper attitude, it can work. I know a few people who had arranged marriages, and they are happy. They fell in love with their spouses, eventually. But if either or both are already in love with someone else, it’s hell.

Of course, there’s always the old Gothic routine – girl forced by circumstances in to arranged marriage (usually to some rich dude who will save her family’s fortune), when she’s really in love with some other guy, but then the other guy turns out to be a villain, and her arranged-marriage husband turns out to be the hero, who saves her, her family, and the whole town, and at the end sweeps her off her feet for some romantic interlude, where she admits she loves him more than anyone. And he buys it, because it’s a novel. No doubt that she’s just saying that because he saved her, her family, and the whole town. Nope.

I like how they handled that in The Corpse Bride. The marriage was arranged by the parents, and the two really hit it off with each other, while at the same time showing the horror of a forced marriage with someone who is. not. good. for. you.

Come to think of it, the arranged-marriage couples I know, who are happy, used a matchmaker, who looked at personality and such. It wasn’t just about political or financial mergers, or what would be good for the family. It was more “Well, it’s time I got married. Better get on that,” and the bride and groom chose it.

I guess there’s a big difference between “arranged” marriage and “forced” marriage.

Say, didn’t someone come out with a movie version of Blackbeard’s Bride, lately? You know that story – the girl is forced to marry Blackbeard, for his money, even though he is a widower seven times over, and he tells his bride not to open THAT DOOR, and when she does (of course), she finds all the bodies, and he catches her and decides to kill her, too, but her brothers arrive just in time to save her? Good old Brothers Grimm. Lots of blood in that one. And the girl gets his fortune at the end.

Michelle on March 15, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    I like the way you think, Michelle. Yes, let’s bring back arranged marriages, since “falling in love” by itself has so many obvious flaws. Maybe Red Riding Hood will start a helpful trend in this direction. And by all means, please, Hollywood, stop Disneyfying Grimm’s classic horror fables. If only Tangled had included more scenes with lopped off fingers, it might have been half decent.

    I’m definitely looking forward to any movie based on “The Robber Bride” after reading what you had to say about it. Aronofsky should do it.

    Incidentally, in regard to your comments about the Grimm Brothers, I might point out that Shakespeare didn’t write his plays, either. He simply collected stories already made famous by Thomas Kyd, Plautus, Seneca, Holinshed and others.

    Burke on March 15, 2011 at 2:33 pm

I just looked it up. It was Charles Perrault for Little Red Riding Hood and for Bluebeard, and he came more than 100 years before the Brothers Grimm did their collection.

As I said before, horror stories have been popular since time immemorial. But you can’t Disneyfy them and expect them to still be good.

Michelle on March 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm

debbi i can’t stand vannessa redgrave any more than i can stand president bongo so i turn them off whenever they are on the for movies like red ridinghood i turn off the sound and enjoy miss sayfried.i liked attonment right up untill redgrave showed up,after that i could not watch any more.i laways like movies that show how we grunts live and die. you see we live pigs but our goal is to kill the enemy and try to9 stay alive doing it.every thing else is bull shit.

BRUCE on March 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

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