Review: “Red Riding: In the Year of our Lord 1974″ (2009)

6 09 2010

This review is for the first movie in a made-for-TV trilogy based on a popular series of novels by David Pearce. No, don’t worry, I’ve never heard of him either. He did however write the book from which “The Damned United” was based (The Damned Utd). With that in mind I fired-up the old computer and watched “Red Riding: In the Year of our Lord 1974”. The first thing that I noticed was that, for a non-Brit, it is impossibly difficult to understand what is being said. Which, I guess is okay, since it was made by the English, for the English from English source material so why should I expect to understand the dialogue since I SPEAK FRIGGIN’ ENGLISH!! I mean, come on!!  Is this supposed to be revenge for the revolutionary war? It’s not like it was you homes and families being blown-up. Frankly, I usually do a pretty good job at deciphering English accents and colloquialisms but I was lost here. I haven’ had this much trouble since my friend forced me to watch “The Last Drop”. And no, “Once” doesn’t count since the main characters were Irish and Czech and nobody knows what the hell their saying half the time.  I guess most of the fault falls on the shoulders of Netflix for not bothering to provide subtitles, something they’ve gotten into trouble for before. So, I suppose I could give jolly old England a pass this time since they were going for authenticity and it was Netflix who dropped the ball.
So, story. The plot revolves around Andrew Garfield (you know, that guy who’s going to be New Spider-Man) playing a newspaper journalist. He’s obsessed with running around trying to get a story. He’s in luck though, since there have been three murders of young children in the area. Apparently, he’s the only one who’s not too inbred to realize that they’re all connected. Of course, when he begins to investigate the story, he gets beat-up by a couple of policemen. Why? Well, for some reason there’s a massive cover-up going on and the entire police force is corrupt. Now I know that police work is hard and all and people are generally greedy and like money, but this movie expects me to believe that little girls can be mutilated and killed in Yorkshire and the police are perfectly okay with letting it happen as long as they get some form of monetary compensation. Not only that, but the police are such authoritarian fascists that they will take any opportunity they can to torture, terrorize and kill innocent civilians with great glee and abandon.  Of course, none of this really matters since New Spider-Man and his massive eyebrows are only interested in banging as many chicks as they can find.  I mean, he hops from bed to bed so quickly you’d think he’d get dick burn ripping his clothes off to fast. I think there’s even a scene where he imagines having sex while he’s having sex.
Composition-wise, the movie is beautiful and intriguing. It manages to effectively capture the feel of the events as well as the time period. However, that’s the best I can manage to say about the movie. Do you know that feeling you get, when you tune into an episode of “Law and Order” and some big-name guest star walks across the screen within the first five minutes? You just know that not only will that actor be back but they obviously killed the victim. Well the biggest name in the movie is Sean Bean aka Boromir and surprise, surprise. You’re left sitting there yelling at the screen, “he did it, that guy there, it was him, we’ll probably be seeing him again real soon,”.
The dialogue is incomprehensible, the story is poorly told, you see the bad guy a mile off, and the ending is straight from “Thelma and Louise”.  This is the kind of story that you’d expect a writer to write because the main character is a journalist and gets a lot of tail.
Even though this movie is cliched, predictable, and you can’t tell what anybody is saying half the time I still gotta give it 3 stars. I like the tone, feel, and style of it and that alone manages to offset it’s many flaws and failings.  It’s dark and gritty in that way all movies are nowadays and yet, still manages to feel original and fresh.  Most of the praise goes to the director Julian Jarrold for making such a poor script something worth watching and New Spider-Man for managing to take a poorly defined, poorly motivated hump bunny and portray him sympathetically enough for the audience to care.  That, and compared to the other movies available for Watch Instantly, this is “The Godfather”.  To be sure, this is better than any made-for-television movie I’ve ever seen.

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