Summit Entertainment, 124 min., Dir. David Slade
First of all, let me address all of the “I’m too cool to see this film” people out there. One, you probably were bawling watching Toy Story 3 or Up, so don’t try to pretend that you only watch high art, “grown up films.” Two, get out there and live a little; go see a movie that you wouldn’t normally see, if nothing else just to bag on it or, maybe enjoy it. Three, if you have a girlfriend/wife who wants to see this film and your going to be a recalcitrant crybaby about seeing it, just man up already. It’s not going to be the best two hours of film you’ve ever seen, but it can’t be worse than watching the Cubs get jacked up again or some piece of s*&t sitcom.
That being said, this is my third Twilight movie, and I still don’t like them any more than I used to (sorry). I think (and have had confirmed by fans) that these films have more of a payoff for readers of the books than for the average person who walks in off the street expecting to know what’s going on. There is little to no effort made to catch up anyone on what happened in the last two films (the later of which I barely remember), and I suppose that’s a product of internet/home viewing culture. Makers of the movie just expect that if you’re going to see part three of a six part series that you will have the requisite knowledge to understand it. If you ask me, it wouldn’t hurt serious watchers to sit through thirty seconds of recap ala Star Wars style scrolling text (or maybe a voice over here and there).
In any case, just like Twilight part two, whatever that was called, I was completely lost. There are, by my count, six or seven vampires and six or seven “shape shifters” (I learned they are not werewolves from listening to AV Talk). They all have back stories, only a few of which were explained via flashbacks during the film. Characters exchange poignant glances, and I suppose we’re expected to know why, but I sure as hell didn’t. There are more examples of the bewilderment that a non-book reader will experience, but I’ll omit them and say that you should not expect to fully understand how or why ancillary characters behave the way they do.
The love interest sequence in this film is essentially two stalkers competing over the target of their obsession, and (without spoiling anything) having to coexist so that said target is not obliterated by an army of obsessive stalkers who want her dead, or something like that. The plot is really secondary in this film. I got the repeated notion that if you’re watching the film, it’s not to be impressed by storyline or dialogue, both of which are lacking and dimwitted. The fact that there are vampires and “shape shifters” is also secondary, as they could really be any characters as far as I’m concerned (extraterrestrials and extraterrestrial fighters, cult members and papal soldiers, Cubs fans and Sox fans, etc.). If this ambiguity is intentional, I’ve yet to discover the allegorical relationship to politics or religion that is concealed within the narrative. The stakes essentially come down to which side will the protagonist end up on, something book readers already know and something I frankly don’t care about.
The on-screen characters do little to make us care about their fate. The acting from all parties involved is wooden, especially from Kristen Stewart (Bella). She mumbles her way through yet another movie, and her flashes of anger are about as intense as the anger expressed after dropping one’s keys down a storm drain. The chastity sequences are something else. I’m not sure where this wave of abstinence heavy tween entertainment came from, but it is definitely entertaining. The reason they don’t have sex in this film is because Edward is “from a different time.” Really?? Are you that secluded that for 150 years you haven’t noticed a change in cultural values, especially after attending one high school after another for that entire time?? He definitely watched some James Dean movies, since his pompadour and clothing seem to mimic that style in the first film.
On a final note, I would like to point out that these are the stupidest immortal people I have ever seen portrayed on screen. Most vampires become cultural paragons, masters of music, art, literature, or science. These people act the way they look. Dr. Cullen, who learned to be a doctor hundreds of years ago, doesn’t seem too concerned with advancing medial arts and only really has that talent to justify having someone bandage up Bella after one injury or another. All of the rest just seem content to look cool and drink animal blood, occasionally playing a really stupid game of baseball (that ridiculousness alone warrants a viewing of the first film). The filmmakers at lest felt that it would be wise to give some of these characters a reason for existing this time around, however slim those reasons might be. I don’t feel like this film enterprise needs to be as trivial and closely targeted, as vampire films have often found a way into a wider audience base. The exclusivity of having a single audience might appeal to the target market better, I suppose. I myself found little to like in this film.
2/10: I’d love to be one of those supporting characters who just sits there and says nothing then takes home a big, fat check
In case you’re wondering, here’s how I rate the other two films:
As I said above, the hilarity of some of the sequences is just great. The acting is terrible, but if you like vampire films you could find something enjoyable about this film. At least the notion of a war between vampires and Native Americans is kind of cool, though never really developed.
Twilight Part Two (New moon??): 1/10
Not worth watching at all. You can probably read the synopsis and fill in the rest. The film introduces the idea of the “Voltari” (I don’t even care to look up the correct spelling) which is a Rome-based vampire council, that has yet to do anything cool but has Dakota Fanning as a member (awesome). The film is utterly forgettable, as it takes over the middle story mentality of just killing time until the conclusion even though it is only the second entry.