Directed by Catherine Hardwicke, who gave the world Twilight, there are naturally similarities - particularly in the brooding, but bland, young male department - although thankfully we have solid character actors ranging from screen legends Gary Oldman and Julie Christie to Smallville/Battlestar Galactica/Warehouse 13's Michael Hogan and Stargate and Smallville's Michael Shanks filling out the ranks and bringing a touch of class to this cinematic outing.
As you may have already gathered from my rave reviews for the Grimm Fairy Tale comics, I find fairy tales a rich source of inspirational plunder, capable of bending in many different directions while still maintaining their central theme.
Despite the Twilight-requisite mushy love triangle in Red Riding Hood, the film engages more on the mystery level - who is the werewolf plaguing the village of Daggerhorn?
Before the big reveal I'd narrrowed it down to two (probably too obvious) possibilities - both turned out to be wrong.
Daggerdale is a faux Medieval, gothic fairy tale village that has a history of werewolf problems - so much so that every full moon everyone locks themselves away and leaves a sacrificial animal (a prime pig, lamb, goat etc) out for the wolf to take as a snack.
Fine young vixen Valerie (the ever-yummy Amanda Seyfried) learns she is to be married off to the son of the local well-to-do blacksmith and impulsively decides to run away with her childhood sweetheart, 'bad boy' woodcutter Peter (Shiloh Fernandez). But before they can bolt her older sister is found murdered by the wolf.
The villagers strike up a posse and head out into the hills to track the beast down once and for all, and by the time professional werewolf-and-witch hunter Solomon (Gary Oldman) rolls into town with his troupe of well-armed knights, the villagers have returned with a wolf's head, believing they have slain the beast.
Solomon, of course knows better - he knows that dead werewolves return to their human form and he also knows that this week of the "blood moon" (only happens once every 13 years) is the time when the bite of a werewolf damns its victim to become a werewolf as well.
There's heavy paranoia and a lot of nervous glances as people start mistrusting each other and eventually a string of events leads Solomon to imprison Valerie as a witch, because the werewolf seems to have a special interest in her.
So Peter and the blacksmith's drippy son, Henry (Max Irons) conspire to bust her out.
Red Riding Hood is a beautifully realised film, with fantastic scenery and costuming, and intriguing little touches like the forest of spiky trees and, of course, Granma's house outside of Daggerhorn.
Yet for all its stunning visuals the film still feels rather hollow and unengaging - our only hooks for real empathy are the appearances of the characters, as their personalities are quite minimalist, and the speed with which characters are dispatched carries suggestions of a slasher flick, rather than an edgy romantic fairy tale.
GAME MATERIAL - TREASURE TROVE:
The Red Riding Hood
Cut for a woman, the long, sleeveless, bright red, hooded cape is surprisingly light and resilient - although it won't prevent blades, arrows, claws, teeth etc penetrating it, it does, however, appear totally resistant to the natural wear and tear of age. Even, say, pushing through a thick bush of thorns it won't snag or tear once.
If it does, somehow, get damaged (by a deliberate attack, for instance), the cloak will have fully repaired itself by the next day.
Created a long time ago by a "wise woman" for her village's prettiest maiden, it carried both magical powers and a curse - all of which can only be triggered by a female wearer. A man wearing the cloak will just look slightly silly.
When first worn by a female, over that initial 24 hour period, the cape will slowly adjust its length until it hangs perfectly down to the wearer's ankles.
As long as the cape is the worn, it grants a protective armour class bonus of +4 (which stacks with any other armour, magical protection etc) the woman has.
The wearer also gains an extra "Hero Point/Luck Point/Action Point/Free Reroll" every day - these cannot be stored up, it is simply a bonus piece of luck for a 24 hour period.
It also grants the wearer the ability to communicate with all shapeshifters and lycanthropes when they are not in their humanoid forms, even if they can only bark, growl, howl, roar etc
However, the drawback of The Red Riding Hood is that it is catnip for werewolves.
Even in human form they will be driven to distraction by it magical scent (which has a range of about half a mile), be hostile or possibly inappropriately sexual to the wearer, and if they are in wolf form they must do their best to hunt down and eat the wearer as soon as possible. Dead isn't enough. The werewolf won't stop until the woman is devoured and the cape soaked in her blood.
The wolf will be in such a red-mist, blood frenzy that they will be immune to any attempts at mind control, sleep, charm etc and impossible to negotiate with.
Turns out the village "wise woman" wasn't so kind and thoughtful after all...
NB. This Treasure Trove write-up contains no spoilers for the movie as it is purely my own invention. In the film, the riding hood is simply a red herring (see what I did there?)