Thursday, November 15, 2012
I do not own the above image. Copyright Little, Brown and Company. For entertainment purposes only.
Before the evisceration, how about I tell a little tale from school. My final semester in college was the fall of 2008. After weeks of job searching and door knocking & phone banking for then President-elect Barack Obama, I went back to old reliable for some much needed R&R: a dark, not-so-crowded movie theatre. It was the weekend before Thanksgiving and the only major release was the film adaptation of a teen book series that I had heard rumblings about. I was all set to hightail it across town for the 4:15ish showing when something funny happened: mother nature decided to drop about 3 inches of snow in about 90 minutes before & during my last class for the day. Needless to say, I just got out of Dodge and thought nothing of going again.
That is until this week. You’d think someone somewhere was trying to tell me something about Twilight. But no, I used my Netflix subscription and around nine hours of my time (plus about three of my loving yet befuddled wife’s) to catch up for Friday. I wanted to stop after two hours or four or six plus. But I pushed myself with as much leverage you need to watch a movie. And well, I need to work on my self-control…
To say the premise is basic is an insult to Sparknotes™ everywhere. A human girl (Bella) falls for a male vampire (Edward). And a conflict occurs when another vampire clan doesn’t like the idea. The movie is two hours of muted teen angst set against the backdrop of a small Washington town that looks rather quaint and peaceful until the forced conflict arrives. Director Catherine Hardwicke tries her best to make the movie look like professionals were on set. One problem: the foreground (acting) and background (story & screenplay) had to be shown. I remember Kristen Stewart as the worst element of the best movie of 2007 (Into the Wild). Stewart has potential but it appears she has no control of her face. Her reactions are all wrong and her speech is too damn quiet. Robert Pattinson, best remembered as Cedric Diggory in The Goblet of Fire, isn’t that much better. Pattinson has plenty of trouble with his voice and mannerisms as well. But the major failing is screenplay. Screenwriter Melissa Rosenburg appears to write the screenplays as if leaving one intricate detail or one line of precious, bland dialogue would offend one of the Twi-Hards. But when you consider the source material, Stephenie Meyer’s technical-deficient novel, you can’t wholly blame the screenwriter. There is a laughable scene involving a backyard baseball game that needs to be seen to be believed. And the conflict, which would rear its ugly head later on in the series, ends in a clichéd, anti-climatic fashion.
Production here started with a suspicious move in canning Hardwicke and moving on with Chris Weitz, whose 2002 film About a Boy remains his highlight. New Moon, focusing on Bella’s “inner” struggles with her love of Edward and her growing relationship with a Native American turned hunky werewolf Jacob. Until someone can prove to me that director Weitz said otherwise, he told the actors to not disturb the townspeople by whispering or grunting every line of dialogue. I had to turn the volume to eleven to hear the insufferable 130 minutes of insufficient verbiage. I thought Stewart & Pattinson were bad but Taylor Lautner may have negative acting ability. Lautner has some vocal ability but only has two faces, cheerful & emo and neither one are particularly convincing. Michael Sheen and Dakota Fanning waste their time and talent as a sort of vampire council.
The overall movie is almost laughably bad but the last scene in particular is atrocious. After returning from Italy, Edward & Bella find Jacob in one of the numerous wooded areas around Forks. It is clear that Stewart & Pattinson are on a soundstage due to the poor green-screen effects. But Lautner? Towards the end of the scene, you can see VISABLE CARBON DIOXIDE AS HE EXHALES. Seriously, did you really need to have your second male lead stand shirtless in the cold British Columbia air while the “stars” get luxury?
With Bella back in Edward’s arms and the audience’s lunches back in their laps, the last of the villainous vampire trio has returned and she brought company in the form of “newborns” or newly bitten vampires. Meanwhile, Bella is deemed unsafe with the Cullens so Jacob and the werewolf tribe are there to help. The movie is shockingly fascinating for the 45 minutes or so it focuses on the creation of the vampire army. People on screen acting, even if it is overacting, is invigorating compared to the blandness of the Cullens and the whatever-the-director-thinks-that-is of Jacob & his clan. Director David Slade, who I actually had to look up since I never heard of him before, does his best but the screenplay by Rosenberg is way, way too heavy on the love triangle. The fight at the end followed by the scene with the Volturi along with the triangle are extra depressing alongside the good stuff. The best of the four but still terrible.
BREAKING DAWN: PART ONE
Edward & Bella were sitting near a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G. First, came “love”. Now comes marriage. And then Bella almost dying from carrying a mutant vampire-human creature to term. Jacob and the pack, not pleased. The Volturi, apparently less pleased. Director Bill Condon, who should have been given a shot at the script since he is an Oscar winning screenwriter, tries his best to send the movie into camp territory, especially towards the end. One problem: no one else, from KStew to RPatz to TLaut to the those “writers”, got the memo. The honeymoon lasts about 45 minutes but only 10 minutes of events occur. And that birth and that Jacob imprinting scene left me speechless. Two hours for a wedding, a honeymoon and a baby should be way, way more exciting.
The popularity is mystifying. So mystifying that I will be at The Galleria at Pittsburgh Mills Cinemark at 8:45 Friday night to witness the finale. To witness the Twi-Hards lose it one last time over Edward & Jacob. To witness the end of the long international nightmare. And to wallow in the misery of others. Oh how torturous and wondrous that night will be.