Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part II (2012)

November 19, 2012 in Best Of, Movie Reviews, Reviews

The world must really be coming to an end soon because — I can’t believe I am saying this– Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part II is GOOD.

How the Hogwarts is this possible? I have followed the films from the very beginning and read 2 of the 4 books (the first and third), primarily out of curiosity, and all they have done is bewilder because, let’s face it, they’re crap.

But inexplicably, this final film somehow manages to be by far the best of the lot and is a rewarding conclusion to an otherwise lackluster series.

The love story between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and vampire beau Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) picks up from the end of the last film, where Bella was finally turned into a bloodsucker after dying during childbirth. For the first part of the film, we get to see the world in her new red eyes as she learns to deal with her newfound powers and desires. Oh, and there’s of course also her freakish hybrid baby daughter, Renesme (what the hell?) who is growing up so quick she belongs at Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.

But things aren’t all roses in Bella’s world. There’s finding a way to tell her father (Billy Burke) without really telling him anything. And there’s the Volturi, led by Michael Sheen and Stewart’s bandmate from The Runaways, Dakota Fanning, the vampire’s version of the Vatican, who are also evil and abuse kids. The Volturi (I’m assuming its plural for the “Voltura”) say baby vampires can’t be controlled and must be destroyed, but they aren’t the best listeners. Blah blah blah; get ready for an epic battle.

It’s actually the same formula that the Twilight films have followed since the second film, where the majority of the running time is spent waiting and training for some all out vampire fight. The big difference this time is that the dreaded and embarrassing love triangle between the lovebirds and Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) is finally broken, so we no longer have to be subjected to that cruel and unusual punishment.

There is also a whole heap of new characters from all over the world.  They may be forgettable, horrible and unoriginal stereotypes — but at least they each have awesome powers that will make you feel like you’re watching an episode of Heroes (back when it was still a good show).

You’d think they would have figured it out by now, but unfortunately, the special effects did not improve. The werewolves still look kinda weird, though nothing could compare to whatever they did with the baby, who was the most terrifying thing I’ve seen since Pennywise from Stephen King’s It. Was it really that hard to find a real baby for the role?

Despite all its problems, for the first time ever, the storytelling in Twilight is efficient (it’s a “compact” 116 minutes when recent trends suggested it could have been 146), the performances even and the action exciting. Granted, the are still moments of cringe that will make even the strongest bellies prone to violent bouts of projectile vomiting, but having put up with it for the first 4 films already I had become surprisingly immune. I trust there are others in the same boat.

As a vampire, Kristen Stewart gets to do a little more than heavy breathing and looking anxious this time, at last displaying a little of the range she’s capable of. Taylor Lautner remains relatively strong, although Robert Pattinson still has that “this is all so stupid” look plastered across his face for most of the movie. Michael Sheen makes the most of a ridiculous role that would probably would have completely failed if it went to a lesser actor, and actresses like Dakota Fanning and Maggie Grace seemed happy to just be part of the fun.

If you’ve followed the saga from the beginning as I have, you might find Breaking Dawn Part II to be a grand finale that delivers. There are pretty vampires and buffed werewolves, very good guys and extremely bad guys, wry humour and decapitations; and there’s love — a whole lotta love. Unlike the previous films in the franchise, there is not a dull moment in this one, as director Bill Condon (who captained Breaking Dawn Part I) appears to have finally figured out how to make things work. Better late than never, I suppose.

4 stars out of 5!

PS: By the way, there is a really — and I mean REALLY — cheap shot in this film. I won’t spoil it by saying what and when, but it’s quite typical of author Stephenie Meyer and the entire series. Let’s just say there were a lot of audible groans, and none louder than mine.

Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn (Part I) (2011)

November 25, 2011 in Movie Reviews, Reviews

Why God, oh why do I keep watching the Twilight Saga?  Nevertheless, I do, and I just did.  I’m not a Twilight fan and I don’t really get the obsession with vampires and werewolves and the boys who play them, but I remain fascinated by this amazing global phenomenon.

Today I watched Breaking Dawn Part I, based on the first half of the final book in the saga.  Breaking Dawn follows the footsteps of Harry Potter and the Death Hallows in that the final book of the series is unnecessarily split into two films in order to maximise the big fat dollars.  Of course they would.  The first three films in the Twilight series have made $1.8 billion worldwide, and the decision was proven correct by the fact that Breaking Dawn Part I has reeled in over $300 million in a week.  (Hey, at least they didn’t make the movie 3D.)  But what does that mean for the average moviegoer?

Well, for starters, a slower pace and a feeling that stuff is happening when nothing is really happening.  Breaking Dawn Part I pretty much picks up where Eclipse concluded (as far as I can remember), with the long-awaited wedding between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her vampire loverboy Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).  Bella’s best friend, werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) is still in love with her, but he has basically accepted the fact that she will never be with him.  It’s hard to go much further than the honeymoon without divulging crucial plot points, but most people who go and watch Breaking Dawn Part I would have read the book.  Even if you haven’t (like me), it doesn’t take a genius to figure out where it’s heading.  Besides, the trailers and previews essentially show everything, as usual.

I didn’t expect much from Breaking Dawn Part I, especially after hearing about the early lukewarm reviews, so I must say it was better than I thought it would be.  Sure, it was slower than the other films in the series (which weren’t exactly blitzing to begin with), but I never found myself bored.  As with the earlier films, the film was strewn with atrocious, cringeworthy dialogue that made me literally squirm in my seat.  I doubt Meryl Streep and Robert De Niro could have pulled off those lines, so that didn’t leave much hope for the likes of R-Patz and Taylor “Abduction” Lautner (who only had a brief shirtless scene this time round).  Plus you know with Part II looming, things are going to remain unresolved by the end of Part I, so there’s definitely an empty feeling when you walk out of the cinema.

Let’s face it.  The real reason these Twilight movies are killing it at the box office is because readers fell in love with the books’ characters, and then the actors.  And Breaking Dawn Part I’s biggest selling point is well advertised — you finally get to see R-Patz and Stewart “get it on”, so to speak.  After all, the sexual tension is what has been driving the films all this time, so it was kind of a reward for the audiences who stuck with it until now.

Unfortunately, after sitting through basically six hours and three films worth of sexual tension, the pay off is disappointingly tame.  There were rumours of perhaps a nipple but for the most part the honeymoon scenes are strictly PG-13 (which is the film’s US rating).  Whatever.  People who love the books, the characters and the actors will lap it up nonetheless.  And they will unreservedly flock to Part II when it is released in November 2012.  At the end of the day, Breaking Dawn Part I was made for the fans and will be enjoyed by the fans.  For a non-fan with an interest in the series, the film was barely passable.

2.5 stars out of 5

PS: The scariest thing about Breaking Dawn Part I is that apparently it utilises two-thirds of the book, leaving only one-third for Part II.

Book Review: ‘Eclipse’ by Stephenie Meyer

January 29, 2010 in Book Reviews

Eclipse is the third book in Stephenie Meyer’s mega bestselling Twilight Saga.

I had read the first book (Twilight), but to be honest it didn’t do much for me.  I could see the appeal of the story and characters, but it just didn’t appeal to me.  Nevertheless, being a ‘watch-anything’ movie buff, I watched the movie adaptation of Twilight, which was average, and then more recently watched its sequel, New Moon, which I thought was pretty good (review here).  Watching the movie, however, didn’t inspire me to read the book version.

I didn’t intend to read any more of Meyer’s books, but friends from work started telling me that Eclipse was the best book of the series, and eventually I ended up borrowing it off one of them.  The movie wasn’t going to be out until July, so I thought, why not?

Well, I have now finished the book, and I must say it was another pretty ‘meh’ affair.  Now, before you berate me, please remember I am a guy.

Eclipse has a good premise.  It picks up where New Moon left off, with Bella Swan torn between her love for her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen, and her werewolf best friend Jacob Black.  And the whole 600+ pages of the book just goes on and on about that.  There is an imminent threat brewing in the background the entire time, but it takes a back seat to the romantic tensions.

If you’re into teenage love triangles and star-crossed lovers, then I imagine Eclipse will be a pretty good read for you.  For me, however, I just felt as though not much happened.  There was a lot of talking and a few minor incidents, but for the most part the story just dragged on.  The biggest disappointment for me was the final climax, which was supposed to resolve that whole imminent threat issue I mentioned earlier.  Unfortunately, the action was predominantly emotional, as opposed to the physical action I had hoped for (I know, that’s such a guy thing).  I imagine, and hope, that the movie will do a much better job of handling it.

My main problem with Eclipse was with the main characters, especially Edward Cullen.  I know the dude is supposed to be the perfect man (vampire), but he didn’t feel real to me.  He was simply too ideal.  Everything he did or said felt like it was calculated by Meyer to make girls love him more.  Men like that don’t exist!  But I guess that’s the whole point of his appeal, isn’t it?  I used to complain that Robert Pattinson (who plays Edward in the films) was too wooden, especially with that pained expression permanently fixated on his face – but now I am starting to think that he captured the essence of the character perfectly!

And Bella Swan.  I don’t even know where to begin with Bella Swan.  All I will say is she really is, when you think about it, a total bitch!

The saving grace of Eclipse is Jacob Black.  Now Jacob might be a selfish, manipulative dick at times, but his emotions are much more real and capable of empathy.   His pain is what keeps the book afloat.  Consider me ‘Team Jacob’.

The way I read a book is usually quite indicative of what I thought of it.  I ended up reading Eclipse in about three weeks, primarily while travelling to and from work.  I never felt like I didn’t want to read the book on the train each day, but I never felt the urge to read it when I had spare time at home.  I suppose that means Eclipse is a 2.5 out of 5!

[PS: I have no desire to read the final book, Breaking Dawn, even though I was told today by someone else that it's the best book of the series.  I think I need a break from Twilight.  I'll just wait for the movies.]

 
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