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The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 2/15/2011
All Ratings out of
Review by Mike Long, Posted on 2/13/2011
When Toy Story hit theaters in 1995, many in Hollywood were watching to see how the picture would perform, as it was the first CG feature film. Would the movie-going public accept it? Would they feel that it was worth paying for? When the movie proved to be a success, it was no surprise that the other studios quickly got in on the action. Dreamworks, Paramount, and Fox released their own CG movies in the years following Toy Story. Surprisingly, it took ten years for the Weinsteins, widely known for being very savvy players, to release their own CG movie. (They distributed a movie from France before this.) How would Hoodwinked! compare to the movies which came before it?
Hoodwinked! takes the familiar tale of Little Red Riding Hood and turns it on its ear. Red (voiced by Anne Hathaway) is delivering a basket of goodies to her Granny (voiced by Glenn Close). On the way, she meets The Wolf (voiced by Patrick Warburton) who demands information from her, but Red gets away. When she arrives at Granny's, she finds The Wolf dressed as Granny, and Granny in the closet, bound and gagged. As if that weren't bad enough, as ax-wielding Woodsman (voiced by Jim Belushi) crashes through the window. The police, in the form of Detective Nicky Flippers (voiced by David Ogden Stiers) and Chief Grizzly (voiced by Xzibit), amongst others, arrive to sort things out. The story then starts over and we see how the events transpired through the eyes of Red, Wolf, Granny, and Woodsman. As the details unfold, we learn that someone has been stealing goody recipes throughout the area, and finding this thief holds the key to the mystery.
It's interesting to note that Hoodwinked! takes a page out of the Disney playbook by tackling a fairy tale. But, instead of giving us a straight-ahead adaptation, as with the classic Disney films, we get a movie which takes a well-known story and puts the Rashomon twist on it. And thus we have the most intriguing aspect of Hoodwinked!. The rather simple tale of Red Riding Hood has been turned into a crime/mystery story complete with hard-boiled cops, crime-beat reporters, and shifty characters. As with any story of this type, there's a chance of things getting redundant, but the fast-pacing really helps things here. Storywise, there are only two misfires. First of all, the revelation of Granny's secret life is incredibly hackneyed and the idea of the sassy senior citizen needs to go away. For me, this made her character unappealing. The other issue concerns the yodeling goat. Yes, he's supposed to be annoying, but they took that idea way too far. Other than those two issues, the story in Hoodwinked! isn't always fresh, but it definitely has its moments.
The movie's major problems come more from the technical side. In theory, the quality of the animation shouldn't effect how we feel about the movie, but it does. Simply put, the animation here is very limited and varies greatly in quality from scene to scene. The backgrounds are fairly detailed and certain characters, such as Wolf, look as if some work went into them. But, Red is a different story. At times, it seems as if only her eyes can move. In the extra features included here, the filmmakers state that they were going for a claymation look, but they may have gone to far with characters like Red, who come across as very stiff. The film's look really pulled me out of the movie at times. Ten years after Toy Story and Hoodwinked! pales in comparison, animation wise. The film's other weak point is the music. This isn't a musical, per se, but there are some songs here, and other than "Great Big World", they aren't very memorable.
Hoodwinked! did OK at the box office upon its initial release, but I think that it's gotten lost in the CG shuffle over the years. A sequel has reportedly been made, but, if you believe the rumors, The Weinsteins don't have the money to release it. Maybe if this new release sells well, we might see it. Overall quality-wise, Hoodwinked! isn't as good as a lot of the CG films that we see, but the movie has an infectious sense of fun and may be worth a second look.
Hoodwinked! brings the punctuation on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of The Weinstein Company Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 30 Mbps. The image is very sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source material. The colors look fantastic and the image is never overly bright or dark. The image shows a nice amount of detail...unfortunately this reveals how limited the animation is at times. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.0 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects are nicely done, especially those which highlight off-screen sounds. The surround sound effects really come to life in the action scenes and there's a moment in the finale where a voice emanates from the right rear speaker and made jump out of my seat!
The Hoodwinked! Blu-ray Disc contains only one extra. "The True Behind-the-Scenes Story" (30 minutes) is an in-depth making-of featurette. The piece contains interviews with the filmmaking team and the cast. There is a discussion of the story and then looks at the individual characters. Along with the interviews, there is some footage of the cast recording their lines and some concept art/rough animation, but most of this is made up of clips from the movie. There is a brief discussion of character design and animation, but then the piece begins to repeat itself. The remainder of the extras are found on the DVD which is included here. (The DVD which contains a full-screen version of the film. Yikes!) We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY from the three writers/co-directors on the film, Cory Edwards, Tony Leech, and Todd Edwards. The DVD contains five DELETED AND EXTENDED SCENES which run about 10 minutes and can be viewed with commentary from Cory Edwards. The only scene worth watching here is a completely new scene in which Wolf and Twitchy meet a pair of bats. This scene is presented in storyboard form and Warburton is not voicing Wolf. "How to Make an Animated Film" (13 minutes) is a short featurette which is actually different from the one found on the Blu-ray, as it contains comments from the producers and it focused more on how the movie was made. The DVD contains the MUSIC VIDEO for the song "Critters Have Feelings". The final extra is the THEATRICAL TRAILER.
Review by Mike Long. Copyright 2011.