Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Breaking yawn

Another year brings another “Twilight” movie, this time “Breaking Dawn,” the adaptation of the final book of the vampire/human/werewolf love story. Alas this is not the final film of intense brooding and angst as “Twilight” is going the way of “Harry Potter” and splitting the final novel into two films.

This time next year look for “The Twlight Saga: Breaking Dawn: Part 2.” Fans are already lining up, everyone else is stocking up on garlic and stakes. If only it were that simple, though. Author Stephanie Meyer created a new breed of vampires for her series that can’t be killed by conventional vampire slaying methods. Vampires are supposed to burst into flames in sunlight not sparkle like diamonds.

But “Breaking Dawn” the film can’t even follow the rules established by its creator. There is a extended sequence with vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) enjoying some Brazilian sun and there’s not a sparkle to be seen.

In this installment, Edward and his human girlfriend Bella (Kristen Stewart) finally get married much to the chagrin of Bella’s best friend the werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). The “Twilight” series has been one long allegory for abstinence with Bella begging to be turned into a vampire and Edward refusing unless they get married first. With marriage out of the way, Bella can finally get her vamp on, but first she wants to get it on with some human-on-vampire action in the bedroom.

Naturally, their sexual adventures end in a pregnancy. The fast-growing fetus is “incompatible” with Bella and is destroying her from the inside. As if that wasn’t enough drama, the news of the pregnancy has the wolves in Jacob’s pack vowing to kill this vampire/human spawn. This leads to a lot of people trying to look intense and distressed, but generally just coming off as constipated.

There’s also a controversial development involving Jacob’s character that has already stirred much debate. Without spoiling anything, this development can best be described as creepy and not in a good way.

During the film’s many pregnant pauses, my mind began to wander and wonder about the logistics of vampire sex and impregnation. If a vampire doesn’t have a heart that beats blood then how can they become aroused? Furthermore how would they produce sperm? And even if they did wouldn’t it be venomous and turn a human into a vampire? The world may never know.

The movie is competently made by Bill Condon the talented filmmaker behind such films as “Gods and Monsters” and “Dreamgirls,” but there’s really only so much that can be done with material this silly and superficial.

There are isolated moments that break up the angst-ridding monotony. An all-too-brief flashback of Edward’s darker past that is shot in the black-and-white style of 1930s horror movie creates more atmosphere in a few minutes than anything in the rest of the movie.

Bella’s father’s (Billy Burke) wedding speech is good for a laugh as he reminds everyone he is a cop with a gun he knows how to use. Anna Kendrick as a catty frenemy also gets some choice one-liners. On the flip side, the film is at its most unintentionally hilarious when we get to hear the thoughts of the snarling wolf pack.

There would be need to be a drastic rewrite of the source material to find anything interesting here, but Melissa Rosenberg’s screenplay is slavishly faithful to the novel. This is great news for the die hard fans of the series, but dire news for those hoping for something more.

In truth, Meyer’s first “Twilight” had some promise, but that got watered down over a series of films that dwelled on shallow characters who mistake obsessive devotion with love. These are the kind of whiny self-absorbed people whose lives would be great if they could just get over themselves. It’s not much fun to be around people like this in real life and it is worse being trapped with them in a movie theater.

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