Two out of five stars
Rated PG13/130 min.
A year ago, I gave Twilight a generous one-star review, which inspired a teacher at Kihei Charter School to urge his class of young students to write me a response, which they did. I was informed that the MauiTime inbox received an outpouring of e-mails, all of them passionate and most declaring that I was wrong about their movie. Among the highlights: “Just because you’re a critic doesn’t mean you have to be so critical!” and “If you have never made a movie, you are in no position to be criticizing the special effects!” My favorite came from possibly the lone boy in the class, who wrote: “You are an awesome critic and your review on Twilight is awesome.” I appreciated each of their comments to no end and I went into the sequel with an open mind…only to be let down again.
A year later, Edward the vampire (Robert Pattinson, still resembling an undead James Dean) decides to break up with Bella (Kristen Stewart), who turns to her friend Jacob (Taylor Lautner) for comfort, only to find he has a big, hairy secret.
The director this time is Chris Weitz, who has made some improvements over the genuinely bad original: instead of every scene shot in an ugly blue filter, the cinematography is lush and beautiful. The composer has changed and the score is now lyrical instead of dull. And the special effects are excellent. Unfortunately, all the other problems are the same, making this a different kind of bad movie: one that occasionally makes you think it will find its footing, but that falls off the cliff instead.
Stewart is a big reason why these films don’t work—her one-note, nearly emotionless performance is like a black hole that sucks the life out of everything around it. Pattinson has a much smaller part this time, but his goofy brooding and slow-motion walks are still unintentionally hilarious. Lautner is the most appealing of the trio, though his acting is as sub-par as everyone else’s.
The pacing is more slack than before. The third act, which takes place in Italy, is supposed to be the film’s highlight. It’s not. Without giving away any of the story, we get an encounter with additional vampires, a fight scene that looks like an outtake from The Matrix, Dakota Fanning in a weird cameo and a lot of vampire dialogue that sounds like imitation Anne Rice.
I liked the two scenes set in a movie theater, which not only tease bad action movies but the current craze of zombie flicks. The rumble between two monstrous beasts is as exciting as the polar bear battle in Weitz’s The Golden Compass. And the cliffhanger ending will cause lots of in-theater swooning. But in the end, Twlight has a long way to go.
On the other hand, the theater I saw this in (which had only one other male present) was full of women, young and old, who cheered enthusiastically whenever one of the young studs got a close-up or took off his shirt. So maybe the formula is working just fine.