Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Hoodwinked Too: Hood VS Evil - Review

Hoodwinked Too: Hood vs Evil, aka Hoodwinked 2, is the sequel to the 2005, Hoodwinked!  A movie which I saw on dvd and eagerly awaited the sequel, as non-disney, non-pixar, good animated films are hard to come by these days.

Warning, this is a spoiler based review


I was really disappointed that despite checking quite often, I'd totally missed the movie and felt worse when I discovered it poorly both at the box office and critically.  So will the sequel be bad?  I hope not.  The first movie was brilliantly funny and had some moments I had to watch over and over because they were so good.  If you haven't seen Hoodwinked, then I recommend you get yourself a copy and watch it before reading this review as no doubt it will contain spoilers for the first film (which is also a mystery.)

The cast credits play out over a plain black screen and it looks like most of the cast have returned (except for Anne Hathaway, but seriously, who cares about her?).  The title comes up and then it superimposes over a leather bound story book, which opens and we hear the voice of Nicky Flippers (David Ogden Stiers) giving a recap on the characters and events of the first movie. 

Nicky Flippers explains that the team he put together at the end of the first movie has been in a bit of disarray since Red took a leave of absence to train with 'The Sisters of the Hood' as they were just on the verge of a terrible threat.  The camera travels through the story book forest as Nicky flippers says it all started the night they got an anonymous tip that two children were being held at a gingerbread house by a witch with a wicked appetite. 


We see the gingerbread house and the silhouette of the supposed witch in the window laughing, this turns into a heat signature and we are inside a HEA (Nicky's secret organisation) van and they are ready to move in on the house.  A number of HEA members (all forest animals) jump around, hiding behind trees and we see Granny, (Glenn Close) calling in as Alpha leader.

Granny's awesome
Wolf (Patrick Warburton) appears, grumbling about Red not turning up, Granny reminds him that Red's on assignment, Wolf mutters that he's supposed to be at the DMV, but he showed up.  Granny says that she knows Wolf misses Red, but they have a job to do and the kids inside the house are about to become baked goods. 

The not-so Big Bad Wolf
Wolf gets on the radio and asks Nicky where Red is, Nicky also reminds Wolf that Red is on secret assignment, though Wolf asks what kind of secret training and asks for some, then Nicky sends some feedback through the radio to get Wolf off the line.

Granny uses some special binoculars to see inside the house and sees the witch sprinkling salt on the two children sat in a pie dish.  Wolf says that now Red has gone he has to step up, and has brought out the big guns, one of the agents inside the HEA van hears this and then panics as he sees something climbing up the side of the house.  Granny uses her binoculars and sees that it's Twitchy the squirrel. 

You have no idea how much I had to slow the movie down by to get a shot of Twitchy not moving
Wolf puts on a fake beard and starts walking towards the house, ignoring Granny's pleas to stop.  Nicky asks Twitchy what he's doing up there, but he can't understand Twitchy's fast paced response and asks the agent to translate it for him.  The agent in the van remarks that he thinks the "fan is about to hit the doody."

Twitchy's translator says he's about to go in, Nicky warns him not to proceed, but Twitchy doesn't listen.  Twitchy drops down the chimney, hearing the two children say that they didn't mean to trespass and they were only looking for goodies.  Twitchy knocks off a small piece of stone and the witch hears this and goes to investigate, reaching into the fireplace, she almost touches Twitchy, but the doorbell rings and she goes to answer it. 

Wolf shouts from behind the door that he's a building inspector, here to see a list of ingredients and permits, which allows Twitchy to drop down from the fireplace.  Twitchy runs over to the two children, who introduce themselves as Hansel and Gretal and they say he must hurry as the witch will eat them all.

She's behind you!
The witch scares Twitchy, which Nicky hears and orders everyone to move in, the agents rush forward and fire gas grenades at the house, then eat the door as it's made of chocolate.  Nicky chastises Wolf for ruining the operation, then the witch bursts through the window on a rocket powered broom.  Nicky is furious and says they'll never catch her now, Twitchy jumps out of the window and says that the witch has taken the children.

Granny rides in on a motorbike with a side car and Wolf and Twitchy jump in so they can pursue the witch, despite Nicky's attempts to stop them.  Nicky tells the agents to get some back up in the air as the witch flies over head and the children shout for help. 

They close in on the witch and a helicopter joins them. realising that the witch is gaining height, Granny asks Wolf if he can handle a bike, the short answer is yes, I won't repeat every line of dialogue, but it's pretty hilarious.  Granny jumps onto the back of the broom and grabs into the cage in which Hansel is being kept, then the witch slaps a pair of handcuffs onto Granny's wrist and laughs manically as she tells Granny she's got her.

The bike crashes to the ground and Wolf tells Twitchy their ok as it rides through the trees and the helicopter pursues the witch. 

*grins*
I won't say what happens to the goat, because writing it out just wouldn't be as funny as watching it was, all I shall say is that he's ok, though I'm not sure about the beaver.  On the rocket broom, Granny reads out the witches rights as she leads the helicopter into a field of windmills, the helicopter crashes into one, forcing Nicky and the agent inside to parachute out. 

Wolf however is not far behind the witch, unfortunately he passes them and then tells Twitchy to handle the bike, Twitchy protests as he cannot reach the peddles, but Wolf launches himself out and crashes into a windmill.  Twitchy crashes the bike into a bail of hay, the witch passes the windmill Wolf is on and he jumps and grabs Granny, despite her warnings that it's a trap.  Granny tells Wolf to get Red and Wolf loses his grip on Granny and drops onto a hay bail.

Wolf looks sadly into the sky as the witch flies off and remarks that it's all his fault and it wouldn't have happened if Red were there.  He looks into the sky and the camera travels through the clouds, leading us to Red on a wooden bridge.  She is carrying a basket filled with goodies and hears loud footsteps in front of her and an ogre comes into view.

He's somewhat tall
The ogre tells her she's not delivering anything across his bridge and they get into a fight, but Red lands on a broken plank and loses her basket over the side of the bridge.  She uses a rope and bungees off the side and manages to defy the laws of gravity to retrieve the basket (why am I questioning gravity in a film with a hyperactive talking squirrel?)  She flings herself back over the bridge and passes the ogre, as she runs off he shouts that her Granny would never run away from a fight and Red stops and turns, then returns to beat up the ogre, causing her basket to drop off the bridge again.

A woman comes out of a building on the other side of the bridge and says that the test is over and the delivery is incomplete.  We see inside the secret temple of the sisters of the hood and we see many women, all wearing hoods in a variety of colours, training in various forms of fighting techniques.  Red's teacher tells her that she came with much to prove, but her task was to deliver the basket and she shouldn't have got into a fight needlessly after the end was so near, she says that a sister of the hood finds her own path and her desire to please her Granny shouldn't rule her.  Also they are running out of fighting instructors. 

Red gets a phone call from Nicky who tells her about Granny being kidnapped.  Her instructor tells Red that when a sister graduates, their last test is the trial of the truffle and very few sisters ever successfully create the recipe and Granny was one of them.

She tells Red that it's one of their closely guarded secrets and shows her the vault where the recipe for the truffle cake is kept.  She tells Red that anyone who eats the truffle becomes great in strength and speed and thought and shows Red a box and opens it, but the recipe is gone.

The sisters panic and realise that whoever took the recipe must be trying to complete the truffle and must be seeking the secret ingredient.  A HEA helicopter arrives at the temple, Red asks what the secret ingredient is, they tell her that it is never written down or spoken of, but a true sister of the hood just knows.  I'm gonna guess right now that it's either love or nutmeg. 

Red boards the helicopter to mount a rescue for Granny, the other sisters comment that she's still finding her true path and isn't ready for such a challenge yet on her own.  Granny meanwhile has been tied to a chair at the witches castle. 

I'm calling it now, the witch is either a costumed rival or a robot for either the bunny or Hansel and Gretal
The witch tells Granny that they've met before and confirms that she's wearing a mask, she says that her friends will never find her and she might as well stay for dinner and points to an oven.  Granny asks if the witch wants her to cook dinner for her, the witch says yes, she wants the truffle cake.  Granny lies and says that she never learned to make it, but the witch knows she's lying and produces the recipe.

Here's a screencap should you wish to reproduce it for yourself.  
Granny refuses to cook up the truffle cake for the witch, so she turns on the television, showing Hansel and Gretal tied up together in a pot, who shout that the witch is getting ready to cook them, so Granny agrees to make the truffle. 

Back at HEA headquarters, Little Bo Peep and her sheep are working the computers, Wolf gets slapped by Bo after saying that her sheep are delicious and Red enters the room.  Red blames Wolf for getting Granny kidnapped and Wolf blames Red for not being around and being on her secret training, Twitchy stays out of the argument as Nicky Flippers enters the room and tells Red that there's been a rash of robberies for the ingredients to make the truffle cake. 

Red says they need to hit the streets and find out who's hiring the muscle, Nicky says their intel indicates that it leads back to a guy who is called The Giant, who is a smuggler and also blogs about animated films.  Wolf says that he needs to get a life.   Hey!  I'm on your side, movie! 

Nicky tells them that The Giant runs a bar called The Beanstalk Club and tells Red and Wolf he wants both of them to go down and check it out.  Red and Wolf start arguing about having to work with each other, but Nicky tells them they both need bringing in line and sends them off to the big city in the HEA helicopter. 

As they walk through the streets, Red and Wolf get into another argument as Wolf wants to get some sight seeing done while they are there, but Red just wants to do things by the book, like Granny would.  Twitchy finds a poster of Kirk the woodcutter who has hit the big time as a singer, he shows Red and Wolf, Wolf wants to catch the show, Red doesn't want. 

They arrive at a club to talk to Jimmy ten strings, a singing harp who is an informant of Granny's, Wolf wants to talk to the informant himself, but Red insists on doing it so Wolf heads to the bar whilst Red goes to talk to Jimmy.  Jimmy says he'll do anything to help out Granny, but when he starts to explain about the stolen truffle ingredients, a rhino bouncer comes up behind Red and grabs her before Jimmy can say who they've been stealing the ingredients for. 

Red is sent upstairs on an escalator to see The Giant (Brad Garrett), Red asks The Giant about the witch, the giant feigns ignorance and tosses one of the rhino bouncers across the room with a sweep of his hand, causing the crowd to gasp.  Red explains that she's a sister with a badge and threatens The Giant, who doesn't take kindly to that, luckily, Wolf comes in in one of his disguises and distracts The Giant. 

The Giant laughs as Wolf amuses him and he invites Wolf and Red to join him for some dinner, which allows Twitchy to go talk to Jimmy, whilst Red and Wolf distract The Giant.  Twitchy steals the harp and Red and Wolf make their excuses to leave, The Giant notices and sends his rhino bouncers after them, but he throws his table at them, knocking his bouncers out of the window instead of Red and Wolf.

Red, Wolf, Twitchy and Jimmy start sliding down the beanstalk as the rhino bouncers and The Giant are chasing after them.  Red asks Jimmy about who is ordering the stolen ingredients and Jimmy says that The Giant gets a call everyday from The Bunny, Wolf and Twitchy panic.  The Giant lands in front of them as they are still sliding and Red tells Wolf and Twitchy to jump and Red jumps after them, allowing Jimmy to slide back towards The Giant, but as The Giant catches Jimmy, his rhino bouncers slide into him, knocking him off the beanstalk.  (Don't worry, kids, The Giant, the rhino bouncers and Jimmy are fine.)

Red uses her hood to catch the wind, floating herself, Wolf and Twitchy to safety.  We then get a shot of London Bridge Asylum, the camera travels through the corridors and we see Boingo The Bunny inside a cell, yes it's a Silence of the Lambs reference, a cleaners passes behind them and it's obviously the witch.

Boingo antagonises Wolf and Red and reveals that he knows about the witch and her plan to kidnap Granny and causes Red and Wolf to get into another argument which he enjoys into Red reaches into his cell and grabs his ear, pulling through the small hole in the glass.  Red repeatedly pulls Boingo into the glass and Boingo says that he doesn't know where they are, the witch passes him notes and he puts the word out, Red asks where the notes are and Boingo tries to change the subject, but Twitchy spots where the notes are hidden.

Twitchy grabs the book and shows it to Red, Red asks how the witch gets notes into the books and Boingo reveals that the witch was just there, confirming that the witch was indeed the cleaner.  Red, Wolf and Twitchy run outside, but the witch takes off on her broom and flies into the sky, dropping a bucket on Twitchy and a piece of cloth.   Red and Wolf get into another argument over whose fault it is. 

Wolf decides to leave as his screw ups keep causing things to go wrong and he says that Red would be better working on her own, so he leaves with Twitchy.  Red picks up the cloth and sees that is a tunic with the initials, D.C.T printed on the front. 

We see Granny is hard at work, but her wooden spoon snaps and she complains to the witch that she can't possible make the truffle cake with broken spoons and cracked measuring jugs.  Granny also says that the witch hasn't brought her the right amount of cocoa sticks, so the witch grumbles and leaves and Granny uses one of the sticks to pick the lock on her ankle cuff and grabs a spatula and a handful of flour.

Granny uses the spatula and jimmies the door open, going into the corridor, she sees a life at the end and blows the flour, reavealing the corridor is filled with red lasers, she jumps through them and just as she reaches the lift, she sees a light coming from underneath a door. 

She opens it and Hansel and Gretal are sat on a settee eating pies and cupcakes and watching the telly, Gretal tells Granny the exit is straight ahead, but traps Granny in a cage.  The witch comes in and asks what Granny is doing in there and Hansel and Gretal start questioning the witch on how Granny escaped.  (Totally saw it coming.)

Granny realises that Hansel Gretal are the masterminds behind the kidnapping and truffle plan because they are the children of a poor woodcutter and they never had any sweets and that's why they want the truffle.  Granny says she'll never finish the truffle cake for them now, but Hansel and Gretal say they have ways of making her talk.

They tell the witch, Verushka, to make sure that Granny doesn't escape again and they leave the room.  Granny recognises the name and the witch takes off her mask, revealing that Granny and Verushka were sisters together in the sisters of the hood, but she always came second place to Granny and was fiercely jealous that Granny was so good at everything. 

The last straw was at the final test, Verushka was unable to make the truffle and has spent the last sixty years trying to discover the secret ingredient, until she teamed up with Hansel and Gretal and they devised their plan. 

Red meanwhile only has to figure out what DCT could stand for, but she's having some trouble as it turns out there's quite a few places with those initials. 

Red asks numerous people on the street, but no one recognises the piece of cloth, she runs into a blind mouse who asks for a dollar, he tells her that it could be Dark Castle Towers, a big spooky looking building.  Red arrives at the place and calls Nicky and asks for Wolf, but he isn't there.  Nicky says he'll send back up for Red, but Hansel and Gretal are listening into their phone conversation, they tell the witch that the HEA won't be a problem as they have forces in place.  Pigs arrive at the HEA headquarters and start attacking, forcing them to go into code red and leaving Red alone. 

At Wolf's place, we see that he has a bunch of photos of him and Red attached to the fridge and Wolf is sat watching television, but everything reminds him of Red so he turns it off.  He goes to the trailer next door to talk to Twitchy, Twitchy gives Wolf a drink and tells him that the HEA and Red need him, even if Red won't admit it. 

The three little pigs arrive outside and blow up Wolf's trailer, Wolf comes out, revealing they didn't kill him, then the pigs start pursuing Wolf and Twitchy as they roll away in Twitchy's trailer, but as the trailer rolls off a cliff, the pigs blow it up and it explodes everywhere.

Back at Dark Castle Towers, Red is trying to make it in via climbing up the outside of the building, a window frame she grabs onto, however, comes off the wall and Red starts falling towards the ground, allowing the pigs capture Red.  Wolf and Twitchy arrive at HEA headquarters to find the place almost completely destroyed.  Nicky Flippers survived the attacked, and asks what happened, it turns out Twitchy's trailer had ejector seats and the three little pigs aren't particularly smart.

We totally blew up that handsome wolf!
Nicky laments that every agent they have has either been kidnapped, scared off or sent to live on a uncharted island somewhere, they've been defeated and he has no idea where Red could be.  Nicky tells Wolf that he could be Red's only chance.  Wolf arrives at Dark Castle Towers and distracts and starts beating up the little pigs and he and Red soon bundle them together, clearing a path into the towers. 

Hansel gets a phone call telling him Red and the Wolf have escaped, the witch is still trying to persuade Granny to make the truffle, but Granny refuses still.  Gretal comes up with a plan involving Red arrivng.  Red and Wolf decide they need muscle to get into the towers and go to see Kirk the woodsman. 

Red tells Kirk they need muscle, Kirk tells them they need his yodelling team, who before they became yodellers were a crack team.  They take the yodellers and break inside the towers, using various methods to take out the pig guards in the lobby.  Wolf, Red and Twitchy head up in the lift, leaving Kirk and the yodellers to take care of the remaining pigs.  Red and Wolf find Hansel and Gretal bound up in a cupboard and they tell Red that Granny is in the room at the end of the hall.  Red tells Wolf to get the kids out while she gets Granny, but as they get into the lift, Red sees Gretal smiling suspiciously. 

The lift fills with gas and Wolf and Twitchy are knocked out, Red then becomes trapped in the room with the truffle mixture, she tries it and knows what the missing ingredient is, macadamia nuts.  The witch hears this and Hansel, Gretal and the witch reveal themselves and Red sees Granny tied to a chair. 

Hansel and Gretal complete the truffle, Red apologises to Granny because everything is her fault and if she hadn't tried to do everything alone, it wouldn't have happened.  Granny tells Red a person can never truly fail unless they give up. 

Wolf and Twitchy are tied up in the lift, but they stir and manage to press the buttons to activate the lift.  Hansel and Gretal reveal that their plan is to sell the truffles to villains all over the world and because the effects of the truffle are only temporary, the villains will want more and they will become filthy rich.  Hansel and Gretal each eat a truffle, despite Granny trying to stop them and they become giants.

Verushka tries to get a truffle, but Hansel and Gretal take them away from her and jump out of the window, leaving her, Granny and Red to a giant spider.  Granny asks the witch to untie them, but she doesn't help, then they hear Kirk yodelling and he bursts into the room with his yodellers.  Kirk frees Red and Granny as the yodellers start fighting the spider, except for the witch who tries to escape on her broom, but she's knocked off by the spider and is left clinging to the side of the building.  The yodellers push the spider back into it's cage and Granny saves the witch. 

Granny tells Verushka that she was never number 2 to her, they look out over the city and Red feels like it's all her fault, but Granny says she doesn't have anything to prove and has all the power she already needs to save the city.  Red jumps out of the hole in the wall, using her hood to catch the air as she jumps over buildings. 

Granny tells Verushka that once you're a sister, your always a sister and she can always come back, Wolf and Twitchy arrive finally in the lift and Granny sets off with them on the rocket broom.  Verushka is left alone, looking at her number 2 ribbon as the spider returns. 

In the city, Hansel and Gretal start breaking buildings and throwing them into the street.  Red arrives and knocks Gretal off a building, then she pulls Hansel off, but on the ground, they are all fine.  Hansel and Gretal start throwing cars at Red, just as they are about to squish her, Wolf and Granny arrive and save Red, pulling her onto the Rocket broom, which Granny flies into a monorail car.

Just as they are recovering from the crash, Hansel and Gretal throw the car which lands on top of the flag pole, delicately balanced, on top of Dark Castle Towers.  Granny and Red are at one end, Wolf and Twitchy at the other, the slowly start walking towards one another to meet in the middle.  Wolf starts apologising to Granny and Red for letting them down, then he tells Twitchy he's been stealing his toothpaste for four years.  Twitchy gets angry and tells Wolf that instead of talking about toothpaste, he should tell Red how he feels.

Wolf tells Red that he's sorry and he should have listened to her more, Red says she likes his way and his disguises are fun and useful sometimes. 

Then Wolf throws a gum wrapper on the floor and the car starts to fall, sending everyone flying, the car lands in a spider web spun between buildings.  Verushka has tamed the spider, who it turned out just needed a friend.  The gang see an explosion in the distance and Red says they have to stop them before they eat more truffles and Granny gets an idea. 


Hansel and Gretal walk into a police blocked, with Nicky Flippers and the police and remaining HEA agents.  Hansel and Gretal laugh, then Red comes behind them and tells them to surrender the truffles, backed by Granny, Wolf, Twitchy, Verushka and the spider.  When Hansel and Gretal refuse they attack and Wolf gives Twitchy some coffee, allowing him to steal the truffles and throw them to Red. 

Red runs away, but they taunt her about running away and Red gets tossed into a building and Hansel and Gretal pick up the box of truffles, they eat more of them.  Nicky comes over and tells them that Hansel and Gretal will be unstoppable now, but everyone assures Nicky that it was all part of the plan.

Hansel and Gretal start growing more and continue growing, till Hansel and Gretal start to notice that they are becoming too large.  They ask what is happening and Wolf tells them that the super truffles also have lots of calories and they really shouldn't over do it on sweets. 

Hansel and Gretal become stuck and they are arrested by the HEA and carried off by helicopters, Nicky asks Granny and Verushka to help rebuild the agency with the help of the sisters of the hood.  A call comes in about a guy being chased by 10,000 mice and Red and Wolf run off and jump into a car to go help.  End of movie.

After the main bit of the credits play, the rest run with some truly gorgeous concept art and story boards and it's well worth watching.

Summary:

This is a good movie and it's very sad that it didn't perform well, I blame poor promotion, I was actively looking for this movie coming out and I managed to miss it's release.  You could watch it happily if you haven't seen the first one, there's one or two minor references you may not quite get, but honestly the first one is excellent so you really should check it out if you haven't seen it. 

It was missing the musical elements of the first film and the mystery was pretty obvious, however, I don't think the movie looses much on that.  It's very funny and the relationship between Wolf and Red is played out nicely, however there are some very dated references in it that I think they should have left out. 

The animated is excellent, despite what I've read some of the critics were saying, especially when you consider this is a low-budget film of $30 million and it's not been made by a big animation studio. 

This is a movie which can be enjoyed by both children and adults, I like the fact that Hoodwinked uses strong female characters who don't have to be rescued by a guy every five minutes and are concerned by things like empowerment, team work and finding yourself.  It's rare animated example passing the Bechdel test

8 out of 10

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  3. I honestly did not think of the 2nd Hoodwinked as highly as I did the first one. It was a slight downer from the original one.

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