There are few movies where I actually notice the director’s “hand.”  Consequently, I typically don’t make a decision about what to see or not based on who directed it.

Writer?  Absolutely.

Cast?  Frequently.

Which is why I saw “Taxi”–Luc Besson, Queen Latifa, how could you go wrong?  Oh, yeah, Jimmy Fallon.  (Technically Luc Besson’s name was on the film because it would sell tickets, the credit is “based on a story by”… odd for such a revered SCREENwriter.)

Within the first ten minutes of Red Riding Hood, (twenty minutes if you include the seemingly endless panoramic shots which are telling us that the scenery is going to be more interesting than the characters) I thought, “wow the actors are stiff and lacking of even cursory emotional depth. It’s like the rejects from Twilight.”  Clearly this was a failure of direction, because two really good actors appear in this film, Michael Shanks and Gary Oldman.  When I looked up the director’s name, to my utter lack of surprise, it was Catherine Hardwicke, who also directed Twilight.

I imagine her doing the blocking with still photographs of the actors’ faces glued to popsicle sticks. When the cast is brought in to deliver their performances, she stops them and says “no, do it like this,” demonstrating with her popsicle puppets.  Michael Shanks had the good sense to pick the part who gets killed off before we even really know who his character is supposed to be, rather than give such a stilted performance.  Gary Oldman—well, he still delivers, but the character is universally unlikeable, dull, and plagued with really bizarre stage direction.

Red Riding Hood has very poor exposition, half of the important characters are dead before we find out who they were supposed to be, and why they were important.  The story is yet another teenage girl trying to decide if she’s going to love this monster or that one, and leaves the audience with more questions than answers.  Chief among them is, “Why did I watch this?”