Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is an animated family film that surrounds a kick-ass Red Riding Hood and a secret fairytale agency in what is a cheeky updating of classic fairytale characters. Out on Blu-Ray on August 16th, this CGI Shrek rip-off is less than dazzling, but the Blu-Ray has some interesting extras.
A sequel to 2005’s Hoodwinked, Hoodwinked Too! is painfully self-aware and clichéd, even for a sequel. It takes the Shrek formula and then adds some Mission Impossible in for good measure. Audiences are treated to a radical updating of classic fairytales, from evil German siblings in place of the traditional Hansel and Gretel, to a Red Riding Hood secret agent who kicks ass and works with a bumbling Big Bad Wolf.
The story surrounds a tweaked fairytale world where Red is a secret agent with the Happily Ever After Agency. She’s one tough cookie, and her Granny is just as tough as they lead a crack HEA team into evil-fighting danger. With the help of an accident-prone Big Bad Wolf and a highly caffeinated squirrel named Twitchy, the team finds themselves up against a kidnapping wicked witch.
The film starts with Red off training with the top secret “Sisters of the Hood” organization, and Granny is leading the HEA team into a tight situation. A wicked witch has kidnapped the adorably fat siblings Hansel and Gretel, and the HEA team is determined to free them, with or without Red’s help.
Naturally, things go awry. Big Bad Wolf and Twitchy bungle things, and Granny gets nabbed by the witch, who escapes with the two children. The head of the HEA, a smooth-talking froggie, is beside himself and calls Red to the case.
She teams up with Wolf and Twitchy, and has to face the giant of Jack and the Beanstalk fame (who is an Italian mobster), a magical treat-fattened Hansel and Gretel, a witch with a recipe issue, and a Hispanic little pig named Mad Hog and his killing squad.
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is just the usual for this kind of pic; a self-referential, cheeky kids story stuffed so full of pop culture and movie references it practically loses all coherency. It’s not just that it’s been done to death and it’s clichéd, it’s that the creators of the film tried too hard. They simply crammed in too many inside jokes and sequel references, and the movie became a jumbled cinematic smirk.
The concept art is cute enough, with plenty of wide-eyed cutsy characters with apple cheeks and round faces but it’s the execution that suffers. The CGI is mediocre, at best and with the really superior CGI we have in this day and age, Hoodwinked Too! looks even more amateurish in comparison.
While the characters are crisp enough, skin tones and other detail effects looked fake. Wolf’s fur and other hair effects were far from realistic, looking more like thick straw than actual fur. The characters all looked plastic, both in form and movement, which added to the overall amateurish and cheap look of the movie.
One of the brighter sides of Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is the voice acting. With Glen Close voicing Granny, Hayden Panettiere (Scream 4) as Red, and great comedic voice actor Patrick Warburton as the Big Bad Wolf, the vocals were definitely on a higher level than the movie’s story and visuals. The cast also included Joan Cusack, who’s no stranger to voice roles either, as the wicked witch. Cheech Marin, funny gal Amy Poehler, Martin Short, Bill Hader and Andy Dick round out the stellar voice cast.
Addressing the Blu-Ray itself, the visuals were great as far as high def quality, but since the animation is so crude it might as well be in low definition. The transfer is good and colors are saturated, which helps make the visuals at least stand out and pop with color, despite the CGI looking amateurish. Subtleties like shading and lighting tricks are sadly lacking from the film and the blacks are too deep, which means the few dark scenes are hard to watch as things get lost and obscured in deep shadow.
The audio is one of the better elements on the disc. In the typical style for this kind of film, there’s a hip-hop soundtrack that matches the jaunty fun of the story (or the jaunty fun the story attempted). Vocals were crisp and clear, and dialogue stood up against the busy musical score. Sound effects had decent distribution and, though sometimes overly loud, didn’t drown out the dialogue.
As far as extras, Hoodwinked Too! has some interesting offerings, though no audio commentary by director Mike Disa (perhaps he was too embarrassed). There are three music videos of songs from the film, including one song by Panettiere called “I Can’t Do It Alone”, as well as one from Lavay Cole and CeeJ.
Audiences get to hear some of the personal experiences from select cast members in The Voices extra. Panettiere, Warburton, Heidi Klum (Heidi), Wayne Newton (Jimmy 10-Strings) and David Ogden (Nicky Flippers) share stories about working on the film.
There are some mediocre offerings in the Storyboard Sequences and Production Artwork. Since the art and CG effects are so disappointing, these two extras do little to sweeten the pot as far as Blu-Ray goodies go. It does have a useful DVD copy included as well, with extra features. The Blu-Ray extras round out with Hoodwinked Too! Video Game Teasers for “Red’s Escape” mobile game and “Decoder” game.
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil uses the self-referential conceit ad nausea. In the end, the clichés and “cute” meta hijinx were just a sad cover-up for a sub-par story that couldn’t stand on its own. The Blu-Ray has some decent extras, but the film is so tedious and the animation so cheap-looking I wouldn’t recommend buying it unless you’re already a fan of the movie.
Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil is out on Blu-Ray, and though the film is less than dazzling it does sports some interesting extras.