Starring Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and Ashley Greene. Directed by David Slade. 121 mins.
Rated M (supernatural themes and violence).
The third in the series of films based on the popular series of novels by Stephenie Meyer. The books and films have a niche audience of females, younger and some older, and they play to their audiences. (There are regular incitements to swoon, sigh, weep, gasp...)
Somebody mentioned the ‘huge disconnect’ between the generally less than enthusiastic response from movie critics and the instant box-office success from fans. In a way, the reviews are critical opinions measuring the film against higher standards of cinema art rather than acknowledging the phenomenon of the popularity of the films and seeing the films as popular, pop art. They do what they set out to do, tell a tale of vampires acceptable to a wide audience, without the blood and gore (except here for some initial ‘hunting’ scenes where Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard) ‘turns’ a young man, Riley (Australian Xavier Samuels in a substantial role) who then transforms innocent bystanders into an army of ‘newborns’ who will be out to attack the Cullens and Bella for Victoria’s vengeance – which they do in some vivid battle sequences.
In the background and foreground is the now familiar romance between Bella (Kristen Stewart), a little less pouty this time, rather more determined to be transformed or ‘turned’, explaining that she feels an outsider and not normal, but faced with the marriage proposal from Edward (Robert Pattison, more pouty than Bella, and just as pallid and languid as before until he has to come more alive to protect Bella and do battle with Riley. Taylor Lautner as Jake has had his role beefed up (and beefcaked up - as Edward asks, ‘Doesn’t he own a shirt?!) and he and his werewolves have a lot more to do here, especially in the battle with the newborns. The effects for these huge wolves are very well done.
So, it is the unusual life in its usual way in the blue-grey mountains and forests of Washington state, a blend of teen angst (with reason), high school studies and graduation, life at the police station for Bella’s father, sage meetings of the native Americans as well as some elaborate flashbacks to fill out the stories of some of the characters.
As always, Edward is a gentleman vampire of the old school, of gentlemen that is (not old school of vampires) and his behaviour towards Bella is courteous and proper (despite her trying to persuade him otherwise). Naturally, we leave them in a field of flowers and embrace, now having to wait for the forthcoming two-part finale to the series, Breaking Dawn.
Hoyts Out July 1 2010
Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.