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Top Pick : Red Riding Hood

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Dark interpretation of the Grimms' fairy tale (already pretty dark), set in medieval times. Valerie (Amanda Seyfried) is a beautiful young woman torn between two men. She's in love with brooding outsider Peter (Shiloh Fernandez), but her parents have arranged for her to marry the wealthy Henry (Max Irons). Unwilling to lose each other, Valerie and Peter are planning to run away together when they learn that Valerie's older sister has been killed by the werewolf that prowls the dark forest surrounding their village. For years, the people have maintained an uneasy truce with the beast, offering the creature a monthly animal sacrifice. But under a blood red moon, the wolf has upped the stakes by taking a human life. Hungry for revenge, the people call on famed werewolf hunter, Father Solomon (Gary Oldman), to help them kill the wolf. But Solomon's arrival brings unintended consequences as he warns that the wolf, who takes human form by day, could be any one of them. As the death toll rises with each moon, Valerie begins to suspect that the werewolf could be someone she loves. Panic grips the town as Valerie discovers that she has a unique connection to the beast -- one that inexorably draws them together, making her both suspect ... and bait. Take two snarky, handsome heroes at odds with each other over the love of an independent, petulant heroine, throw in Catherine Hardwicke as director, and what do you get? No, not 'Twilight,' but an adult-themed facsimile. Unfortunately, where 'Twilight' has a syrupy, involving story line, 'Red Riding Hood' is a messy tale at best, with a sloppy plot and aimless acting -- there's one scene in which Seyfried stands around, looking as if she's waiting for acting instructions. At least the sets are medieval lush and the sound -- especially the creak and crash of doors slamming and wood shattering -- is stupendous. Vitals: Director: Catherine Hardwicke. Stars: Amanda Seyfried, Gary Oldman, Lukas Haas, Shiloh Fernandez, Max Irons, Billy Burke, Virginia Madsen, Julie Christie. 2010, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min., Thriller, Box office gross: $37.186 million, Warner. 3 stars

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