Rated PG13/124 min.
One out of Five Stars
Just seven months after enduring New Moon, we get chapter three of the popular but vacuous Twilight series. It’s also been nineteen months since that classroom of Kihei Charter School students sent this newspaper a pile of letters protesting my negative review of Twilight. I wasn’t aware of the popularity of the bestselling books the film was based on when walking into the first installment. Now I realize that I’m not just reviewing a movie, but a cultural phenomenon. Unfortunately, that doesn’t make the movies suck any less.
Bella (again played lifelessly by Kristen Stewart) still can’t decide between her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) or werewolf hunk Jacob (Taylor Lautner), and continues to string them both along. Meanwhile, an army of outsider vampires led by Bryce Dallas Howard are after Bella, which prompts her supernatural suitors to call a truce and protect her. All of this is preformed without passion, conviction or even mild enthusiasm.
Why Edward and Jacob are still fighting over the most uninteresting girl in Seattle is a mystery. Also mind boggling is why Oscar-nominee Anna Kendrick, who nearly stole Up in the Air, is still slumming it in the thankless BFF role, though she’s a ray of sunshine next to the embalmed Stewart. Pattinson still confuses posing with acting and Dakota Fanning gives her first genuinely bad performance (robotic line readings aren’t automatically scary). Then there’s Lautner, the breakout sex symbol of the series. His acting reminds me of an overzealous teen trying too hard in the high school play; he’s so terrible that he’s almost fun to watch.
Yes, Lautner is shirtless for most of the movie. My wife argued that this was necessary, since he’s a warm-blooded werewolf and despite the cold, visibly overcast Seattle weather, a shirt may be too hot for him. Fine, I responded, then why aren’t the female werewolves and the unattractive older men in his pack also topless?
The first and second halves of this are punishingly dull; the only sport is in trying not to cringe during the the dreadful dialogue. My favorite line is when Bella tells Edward, “you look worried,” when, in fact, Pattinson has been wearing the exact same blank expression for the entire movie.
The last 15 minutes are at least lively, with a “threesome” tent scene that could be the campiest of the year and a brief monster tussle with over-the-top fight choreography.
To the Twi-hards and Kihei Charter School students reading this: look, I tried. I know what it’s like to get excited for each new installment of a beloved movie franchise. In my youth, I eagerly attended all of the popular but asinine Police Academy movies and realize now that widespread fandom and quality are not the same thing. Young girls aren’t stupid for loving Twilight, just as young boys aren’t stupid for loving Star Wars.
The real villains here are the filmmakers, who give their overly appreciative, rapt audience the bare minimum. Other than Lautner at the gym, no one here is breaking a sweat. And it shows.