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Archive for November 22nd, 2009

Bad Moon Rising

Being a fan of vampire movies I went to see Twilight out of curiosity and because I had enjoyed the previous films made by director Catherine Hardwicke. I have no problem with glittery, sparkly vampires. It is part of the genre that filmmakers will play around with myths and themes to suit their film. It is worth remembering that the first time vampires where fried by the suns rays was in Nosferatu. The sparkling is however a bit contrived as a concept, it retains the vampires aversion to sunlight but allows them to go to school. The film was really well made well photographed and well cast, from a performance point of view. Having not read the books, I can not comment on how faithful the characters are to those in the book. I was a little disappointed on the whole, as a fan of vampire movies I found the film to be a teenage romance first and a vampire movie second. This isn’t a criticism, it is what it is, I would just prefer a greater leaning towards horror! I do have a problem with part of the plot/premise. As I remember it, the Cullen’s go to school in order to “fit in” and divert attention from the “family” as they look like teenagers. They then act weird whist at school and skip school when it is sunny, thus drawing attention to themselves. Would it not make more sense to just be a little more reclusive? This obviously would wipe out the plot of the entire saga as Bella and Edward would not meet. This makes me think that when devising the plot of the book I get the impression the concept of the school romance between a girl and a vampire came before the plot. And that word contrived comes up again!

So twelve months on what did I think of the sequel, The Twilight Saga: New Moon? Very simply about the same as the first one. It is an entertaining and relatively enjoyable film that has too many flaws to make it a good film but not enough to stop me seeing what the third one has to offer. This film hypes up the “what it is to be human” subtext at the expense of the “no sex before marriage” message of the first film, but to be perfectly honest both of these are well in the background. There are plot spoilers beyond this point but I think the trailer gives most of it away anyway. The film starts of Bella’s (Kristen Stewart) 18th birthday, she is having dreams/nightmares that continue throughout the film. Her main concern at this time is growing old, at 18 she is already older than the age Edward (Robert Pattinson) appears to be. Shortly after this Edward decides to leave Bella,, for her own good. She enters a period that I think we are supposed to believe is heartbreak and depression but actually comes across as teenage sulking. She is haunted by vissions of Edward (it is never made clear if they are actually him or if they are in her head, maybe the book explains it better) this sends her on a journey of adrenaline fuelled self destruction. She is saved from this (both physically and emotionally) by Jacob (Taylor Lautner), her childhood friend from the first film, who has his own issues now. It’s no great secret that Jacob is a werewolf, and as in many other films werewolves are the natural enemy of vampires. During this time we have a plotline hanging over from the first film where Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) wants to kill Bella in revenge for the death of her partner. Without Edward to protect her, the responsibility falls to Jacob and his “Brothers”. Following some week storytelling, in the belief that Bella is dead Edward decides to kill himself. Unable to commit suicide he travels to Italy to provoke the Volturi, the vampire royalty who are capable of killing him.

It is at this point the film is at its best for two reasons. Firstly, it is the first time that any of the characters are really in any danger. And that is the crux of a film like this, the characters need to be in some jeopardy for the viewer to feel anything for them. The second reason is the introduction of the underused but brilliant Michael Sheen as Aro, the leader of the vampires (swapping sides having previously played a werewolf). Dakota Fanning also adds some gravitas to the occasion. Having survived the Volturi Bella and Edward have some difficult decisions to make. So is the film any good? As I said above , it is on the whole an enjoyable but flawed film.  The word that springs to mind in popcorn.  It would probably have been better made had Catherine Hardwicke stayed on as director. Chris Weitz doesn’t do much wrong, he handles the action scenes well but plays it safe and opts for cheesy clichés rather than taking any risks. The gratuitous shirtless scenes were met with more laughter than than the intended female swooning even from the target teenage audience. The acting is generally good delivering some questionable dialogue well. I can’t help thinking Kristen Stewart is considerably more talented than her co-star Robert Pattinson and has more career prospects beyond this franchise. On the whole the effects are well handled but the CGI wolves are not the most convincing. Having not read any of the books I don’t know how the real fans will react to the adaptation, but as a casual viewer, there was little wrong with the film but nothing outstanding about it.

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