Okay, let’s get this out of the way right now; I am not this series' target audience. Now that we have that out of the way, let me just say that while I do not enjoy these films nor will I ever waste my energy trudging through the novels, they should still find some way to have a broader appeal. All I can say is that if people have dubbed Seinfeld a show about nothing, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
Upping the production budget and adding more established actors (Dakota Fanning and Michael Sheen) to stand around doing as little as the rest of the cast a better movie does not make. According to some sources, this film cost about $20 million more to make than Twilight did and all I can see we get out of this is a longer, more boring, sillier, and ultimately repetitive and inferior film.
It is nowhere near what you could call one of the worst films of the year, but I guess since the movie has a built-in fan base it ultimately doesn’t truly matter what I think. Fans will flock and the movie will probably make more money than the last one and maybe by the third entry, Eclipse, director David Slade will be able to finally make a film with a broader appeal. The fact that Slade also directed the graphic novel adaptation 30 Days of Night gives me hope in that he’s dealt with the genre before.
The “vampires” and werewolves are back with a much heavier emphasis thankfully on the wolf pack. I know people love their Robert Pattinson but he is absolutely the most boring aspect of both films. It seems to be that his only direction is to stare at the ground, mumble his lines, and take five minutes to say one sentence and in that time almost never finish a thought. Team Edward needs a new leader. Alice Cullen (Ashley Greene) would do nicely as at least she appears to have some kind of personality.
We’re told it’s been 10 years since the Cullen clan have moved to Forks, WA and people are starting to notice that Carlisle (Mike Dexter himself, Peter Facinelli) ain’t gettin’ any older. This is what Edward gives as his excuse to Bella (Kristen Stewart) to explain why he needs to leave her and can never return. The audience knows that it was actually due to her blood-riddled 18th birthday party. These events set in motion a long, and I mean long, string of montages that are so repetitive it turns the film into a case of self-parody and this is only the first sequel.
With Edward gone and Bella giving a performance consisting of childbirth reenactment as she wakes up screaming over and over again, she finally decides she needs to move on. She seeks solace in the company of her second string love interest Jacob (surprisingly charismatic Taylor Lautner). The two begin hanging out and take part in even more montages as we see them begin to maybe fall in love and rebuild a couple of dirt bikes.
After one of Jacob’s friends reveals himself to be a werewolf it’s all passed off with a shrug and a one-liner which is more than can be said for Stephenie Meyer’s breed of “blood suckers” (as Jacob hilariously continually calls them). These are an interesting group of people and are cast with much more aplomb than any of the Cullen clan. They are a seemingly rag-tag fun bunch and if the films followed them exclusively and possibly changed the series title to “Moonlight” I could totally get behind these films.
During one of the many montages Bella finds out that whenever risk or danger is near she begins seeing hilariously evaporative images of Edward forewarning her of imminent doom. Is he really there in spirit or simply a figment of Bella’s imagination? It’s never made clear and simply makes Bella look possibly insane. He even shows up while she’s drowning after a cliff-diving stunt which makes things even more confusing as she’s not conscious.
I’m sure all of this makes sense in the book but in a film where things are literally not spelled out for you there needs to be some kind of exposition so the rest of the viewing community can make heads or tails of the intent of these scenes. My guess is that Edward leaving has driven Bella to madness, especially since they keep referring to “Romeo and Juliet,” which is by far the last thing a film of this caliber should be trying to compare itself to.
Eventually Alice returns to tell Bella that Edward thinks she died during the cliff-diving episode and has gone to ask the Volturi to take his life as he can not continue living without her. Am I an idiot or are vampires undead? I know that you can “kill” a vampire and whatnot but there is so much emphasis on him not being able to “live” without Bella that it just gets funnier every time it’s mentioned.
Alice picks up Bella and whisks her off to Italy to stop Edward from exposing himself to the public and risk also exposing the truth that vampires do exist to the world. Maybe I’m hazy on the facts here but I remember a huge deal being made, and it is also mentioned in this new film, that vampires are very fast. Why are they driving around in Ferraris and taking plane rides? Seems like a huge waste of time to me, but I digress. This film’s idea of subtlety seems to be having Bella fly Virgin Airlines.
In the end anything I say here will be null and void as there’s nothing anyone can say or do to dry up this new cash cow and more power to Summit Entertainment for grabbing the rights to a series that can be made on the cheap and bring in the big bucks.
Some final words: At least Kristen Stewart is far more tolerable here than in Twilight and Taylor Lautner is an adrenalized stake to the heart whenever he’s onscreen. They may not have a lot of chemistry together but at least he forces Stewart to put forth more effort into her role.
Also, some may find Michael Sheen’s performance too over-the-top but I thought he seemed to be one of very few in the cast who sees just how silly all of this really is and acts accordingly. As for Dakota Fanning, all she gets to do is stare into the camera causing Edward great pain while Bella pretends to have an orgasm when she’s supposed to be exuding fear of death to her beloved.
Thankfully, everything ends with a cliffhanger which is more than can be said for the first film, which was the biggest moment of anti-climax seen in a long time. In 130 minutes of runtime it is Chris Weitz’s biggest achievement even if it takes Edward an eternity to deliver his line, which is about how long it feels like it takes this movie to end.
Photo courtesy Summit Entertainment