(Sorry for the delay. I was hoping to do this in a vlog format, but the tech is not cooperating.)

Well it’s that time of year again. A new Twilight (TW) movie is out on DVD and the rifftrax guys have been kind enough to release their commentary of it the day of, so none of us sane people have to suffer one more minute of the movie escaping justice.

Unlike my other viewings, I do have to talk briefly about the rifftrax. As of this writing, all 3 Twilight movies sit in the top 10 riff downloads.

And this one is the best one yet in my humble opinion. However, make sure you have gotten the first two and watched them as the guys make a lot of call back jokes through the third one. (If you must pirate the pre-sync’d movies, please stop by and give the guys some $$$ so they can continue helping our sanity – I can’t support them on my own.) Don’t forget to not eat or drink anything unless your house is covered with saran wrap. (I was eating soup…)

And like my last review, I’ll pick out a favorite quote. Which is no contest: “God, the movie’s becoming self aware…”

So what can I say about the movie that hasn’t been said already? For one, the makeup was much improved this time around.

No, I didn’t become a woman for the new year. Being a long time sci-fi/fantasy geek, large spectacle and big screen effects don’t “wow” me that much any more (I blame the Star Wars prequels). Instead, I find myself noticing more the little things that draw you into a story, make it more believable.

In the previous two TW movies, you couldn’t believe any of the characters except for Alice and Charlie. No, I haven’t read the books and no, I didn’t have any preconceived notions about how the characters should look. What I’m saying is… an actor is someone who is supposed to convince you that they are someone else for a period of time. Even if that someone else is a completely new invention that has never been seen before. The more famous the actor, the more skill it takes for them to get the audience to forget about who they really are (Johnny Depp and James Earl Jones are two masters that come immediately to mind). However, even if the actor is an unknown, they can still fail, making the audience realize they’re watching someone play pretend there on screen. Sometimes, it’s not even the actor’s fault, but the makeup or the lighting or the directing or the writing that can keep the audience from accepting the fiction before them. Until now, I’d say the worst fault in the TW movies was the “pancake makeup” and some of the bad dye jobs (and of course the bad writing, but I don’t blame the movie makers for that) that kept us from accepting the actors roles. Here, it seems they finally got it fixed. The “vampires” look like walking statues, the werewolves ruddy and on the ordinary humans you can spot tiny flaws and blemishes that seem to stand out all the more when compared to the “perfect” supernatural creatures around them. It’s easy to tell at a glance who belongs to what group. It’s easier now to suspend your disbelief and pretend that the actors are really different people for two hours.

With all that said, what about the acting? This was truly the “movie of sidekicks” as all the secondary characters get more time as actual characters (though they STILL deny screentime to the TRUE star of the movie series: Charlie’s Mustache!). Jackson Rathbone does the most as Jasper, proving to the world that he could actually act if the poor guy can get a decent script for once (but then again, he gets to kiss Ashley Greene on screen so Twilight and The Last Airbender seem like a small price to pay). Here’s hoping Zombie Hamlet works out for him. But poor Bryce Dallas Howard. Don’t get me wrong, I love BDH, I’ll actually sit through the Village, Lady in the Water, T4 and Spidey3 purely because she’s in them. She can act as well as any starlet in Hollywood, but she cannot play a vampire. Her replacing Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria is the worst misstep of this movie. Rachelle could pull of the snarling and the cold menace that you would expect from a vampiric mastermind villain. For Bryce, it’s just out of her range.

Everyone else works out pretty well, though it seems sad that any combination of actors has more chemistry than the two main leads. Why? I’m not sure. Maybe part of it is my natural tendency to rebel against things being forced down my throat. Maybe it’s that so much of the movie is put toward telling us that Bella and Edward love each other, that the actors (and director, writers, etc.) don’t feel the need to put in a bit of extra work and show us that they love each other.

But oh… the writing… the ‘writing’…

I’ve matured enough (not a lot, but some) over the years that I don’t require near constant actions and explosions in my movies. Yes, I can find amusement in Transformers 2 but character and moral studies can hold just as much interest for me (which is why on my blog I praised Inception over and over again last year). So I should say that I don’t think this movie or its ideas were that bad. A real, serious examination of a person becoming a vampire could be very interesting. Oh wait, it was. Except here, in this universe, the “vampires” are so perfected that there’s no downside to this choice. To hear Edward or Rosalie complain about about their states make them sound like ungrateful, spoiled brats. Don’t they realize that the goal of almost every human society, culture and effort throughout history has been to obtain what they have?

And then, there at the end, we see the most blatant example of why Bella is a Mary Sue (and I’m spoiling this as a favor to everyone).

The big battle between Meyerpires is over. The Cullens have accepted Bree (played by the just adorable Jodelle Ferland) into their group under asylum. The Volturi show up, there’s some talking, then the Volturi up and kill Bree, while the ‘heroes’ do nothing! I hope you don’t find it indulgent that I quote myself a moment

You know what makes a hero? What a person does (in real life or fiction). What makes a true and noble hero is one that doesn’t give up, no matter what, no matter how effective.

Let’s think about this… the Cullens outnumber the Volturi present by themselves. They also have their werewolves allies around for a surprise bonus. There is no reason the Cullens could not have pwned the Volturi 8 ways to Sunday!

And you know what? That would have been interesting. Think about it: The Volturi go to kill Bree. The Cullens and wolves defend her and tear apart the Volturi present. Thus setting the stage for the next book/movie where the Volturi are enraged and use that incident as provocation to bring their wrath down upon the little town of Forks…

See? That’s an organic conflict, drawn naturally from the situation and characters (at least, it would be if the characters were heroic). But no, instead we have to have the conflict in the next book be all about Bella. We can’t even have a war be indirectly caused by her, she has to be the direct cause for it. That is textbook Mary Sueism: nothing in the story is allowed to not revolve around her.

And ultimately, that’s why the Twilight series keeps failing.

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Comment

  1. fffan on 4 March 2011, 20:50 said:

    Amen.

  2. SweetRunningBreeze on 5 March 2011, 14:21 said:

    I like that idea of Cullens actually challenging the volturi instead of… doing nothing. Good review, definitely.

    But I have to say, I’ve learned that the less I think about this series the happier I am. So now I try not to think about it.

  3. Asahel on 6 March 2011, 18:14 said:

    The Volturi show up, there’s some talking, then the Volturi up and kill Bree, while the ‘heroes’ do nothing!

    That was definitely the worst part of the movie for me. My wife has read the books and when I asked her about that, she said she didn’t recall that scene in the book and thought that it was put in the movie as a tie-in for the Bree book Meyer had released shortly before the movie came out. If anyone can confirm, that would be great.

    At any rate, even if it was just a tie-in and had to end up with Bree dead, I would’ve preferred them to do anything other than what they did. I mean, they didn’t even put up much of an argument, much less a fight! What would the Cullens have done if the Volturi had wanted to kill Rosalie or Edward? They had just accepted Bree into their family or so they said. Actions speak louder than words, and their actions clearly said that Bree wasn’t really family.

  4. Nate Winchester on 7 March 2011, 12:17 said:

    Well Asahel… I went and looked it up...

    While acting ignorant to everything they discussed, Bree provided secret information to Edward of everything she knew. Jane concluded Bree as a criminal, despite her ignorance of the laws, and ordered her to be killed after torturing her with her power. She made no resistance, and was destroyed by Felix.

    Carlisle was deeply saddened about what happened, as he would have welcomed her to his coven, and expressed that invitation to both Bree and the Volturi, to try and keep Bree alive.

    Talk about Designated Heroes.

  5. swenson on 7 March 2011, 12:20 said:

    I went back and checked (you see the torment I put myself through for you all? :D), and yep, the scene’s in the book. Jane and Felix show up and are like “She has to die, she broke the rules.” Carlisle’s like “No, she’s willing to learn from us, we’ll take responsibility for her.” Jane’s like “Lawl, no second chances!” and Felix kills Bree while everyone just sort of stands around and watches. Except for fragile little Bella. Not being a vampire and not liking gruesome stuff, what does her dear boyfriend do for her? Does he carry her away so she doesn’t have to be present? Not likely! He’s just like “Don’t watch.”

    And… that’s it. She can still hear it and everything. So basically, lame sequence all the way around.

  6. Asahel on 7 March 2011, 14:02 said:

    Thanks for checking everyone. Ok, so here’s how I would redo the scene, being very careful to fit Meyer’s specifications, etc.

    Jane’s clear voice was impassive. “She’s broken our laws. Ignorance is no excuse, and death is the only fitting punishment. You would be wise not to interfere.”

    Edward only contained his indignation when a quick glance from the young seeming Volturi reminded him of the pain she could quickly call down on him—on anything of them, save me.

    Imagine my surprise then when Carlisle stepped in front of Bree. “Be reasonable,” he pleaded. “Perhaps death is fitting, but allow clemency on behalf of her ignorance. We’ve accepted her into our coven.”

    Jane’s red eyes moved ever so slowly from Edward back to Carlisle. “Are you testing me?” she asked. “I’ve spoken her doom and it shall be carried out.”

    I could hear my own heartbeat as I’m sure everyone else present could as well. Carlisle looked so stern like a father lecturing a wayward child. “And did you not hear me?” he asked. “I said we’ve accepted her into our coven. An attack on her is like an attack on any of us. We will defend ourselves.”

    Felix laughed. “Well then, let’s kill them all and be done with it!”

    “Hush.” Even without extraordinary powers I could tell Jane was weighing her options, so I looked to Edward. He stared intently at her.

    He yelled, “Carlisle!” but could manage nothing more as pure pain washed over him.

    The other Volturi were so fast. Carlisle was knocked out of the way. Jasper tried to head them off, only to be intercepted by another. Even the wolves moved to defend, but all were not fast enough. Before I even knew what had happened, Felix had torn Bree asunder. She hadn’t even tried to defend herself.

    Jane released Edward from her grip and the other Volturi returned to her. Carlisle screamed, “Jane!” I’ve never heard him so hurt, so angry.

    “I’m done here,” she said. “The next move is yours.”

    The rest of the Cullens gathered around their father as another anguished cry escaped. Then they turned their attention to the Volturi. I took a few steps back, feeling vulnerable as any mortal would on the battlefield of gods. They waited his word, but his eyes fell on me for a moment. He yelled back to Jane, “Go! Go away you damnable girl! We will settle this later.”

    Jane nodded. “As you say.” Then they were gone.

  7. Gante on 8 March 2011, 00:10 said:

    “The “vampires” look like walking statues, the werewolves ruddy and on the ordinary humans you can spot tiny flaws and blemishes that seem to stand out all the more when compared to the “perfect” supernatural creatures around them”

    This is part of what I hate about Twilight—the constant harping on how perfect the vampires are, and how superior to us humans with our pimples and B.O. and bad breath. Sometimes I think the real appeal of the vampire lover is the thought of having a boyfriend who dosen’t sweat, fart, or go the the bathroom.

  8. Gante on 8 March 2011, 00:44 said:

    “The “vampires” look like walking statues, the werewolves ruddy and on the ordinary humans you can spot tiny flaws and blemishes that seem to stand out all the more when compared to the “perfect” supernatural creatures around them.”

    This one of the most annoying things about Twilight-the constant harping on how perfect the vampires are, and how superior to us humans with our pimples and B.O. and bad breath. Sometimes I think the real lure of the vampire lover is the idea of a boyfriend who doesn’t fart, sweat, or go to the bathroom.

  9. Nate Winchester on 8 March 2011, 09:57 said:

    Gante, I think you’re on to something there… (no matter how you say it).

    (you see the torment I put myself through for you all? :D)

    Bah! That’s nothing, Swenson. You want to prove your love, survive a chapter of Twilight & Philosophy!

    Thanks for checking everyone. Ok, so here’s how I would redo the scene, being very careful to fit Meyer’s specifications, etc.

    Asahel, I was about to start tearing your segment apart when I remembered ‘Oh yeah, written in Meyer’s style. Carry on then.’

  10. Asahel on 8 March 2011, 14:24 said:

    Asahel, I was about to start tearing your segment apart when I remembered ‘Oh yeah, written in Meyer’s style. Carry on then.’

    That bad, huh? It was at least improved over the original, wasn’t it?

    I should probably not put rough drafts on the Internet.

  11. Nate Winchester on 8 March 2011, 15:41 said:

    That bad, huh? It was at least improved over the original, wasn’t it?

    Secret of positive thinking: keep your standards low.

    I should probably not put rough drafts on the Internet.

    Why not? Stephanie Meyer published hers?
    [rimshot]

  12. Steph (what is left) on 24 March 2011, 21:20 said:

    This one of the most annoying things about Twilight-the constant harping on how perfect the vampires are, and how superior to us humans with our pimples and B.O. and bad breath. Sometimes I think the real lure of the vampire lover is the idea of a boyfriend who doesn’t fart, sweat, or go to the bathroom.

    No way, dude. No way would I want a boyfriend who had fewer gross bodily functions than I. That is not the way the universe is supposed to work.

  13. Nate Winchester on 25 March 2011, 12:57 said:

    No way, dude. No way would I want a boyfriend who had fewer gross bodily functions than I. That is not the way the universe is supposed to work.

    Now we know the REAL reason behind Bella’s desperate need to become a vamp.

  14. Stephenie Rowling on 4 July 2011, 23:48 said:

    I think what many of you critics are forgetting is that the Cullens are good vampires no heroes. Giving the Volturis a reason to destroy their coven would be stupid and pointless Edward knows that the Volturi are waiting for a chance to destroy them and that they have a vampire that can force the survival members into obedience with Aro, they had been destroying covens for millenniums now so is not like they had any chance. I’m pretty sure that most people that have their sister, daughter or wife next to you you would totally place her in danger for a stranger. Most of the heroes you mentioned already chosen the past of the heroes, the Cullens are merely trying to do their best without breaking the rules and getting killed. They are not superheroes and the books are not comic books or sold for that.

  15. Nate Winchester on 21 July 2011, 15:17 said:

    Uh oh… StephR just challenged an avid gamer to discuss tactics…

    Edward knows that the Volturi are waiting for a chance to destroy them

    Which is all the more reason for the Cullens to change the state of the game. Having the werewolves come out and cripple the Volturi’s forces AND revealing that the Cullens were living near the only natural enemy vampires have would be a huge game changer. How willing would Aro be to target the coven then?

    You might say the werewolves weren’t prepared but in the movie, before Bella figures out the “solution” about who’s creating newborns, the Cullens & Co all suspect that it’s the Volturi making the meyerpires. They should at least assume the newborns are designed to “soften” up the Cullens and the Volturi will then descend to finish them off. So the werewolves should have been informed and prepared to fight the Volturi (before Bella figured out what was really going on) – unless the Cullens are big jerks. If anything, I’m surprised the wolves didn’t have to be held back from attack and executing the meyerpire leadership, giving them a strong position.

    that they have a vampire that can force the survival members into obedience with Aro

    Wait, which vampire is that? If true, why didn’t Aro use him/her to keep Alice & Edward in Italy when they came to visit? After all, if the Cullens are as powerless as you say, I don’t think they can do much about his action.

    That’s what some writers would call a contrived problem.

    They are not superheroes and the books are not comic books or sold for that.

    I don’t know… they seem an awfully lot like Kryptonians to me…

    And like I keep saying – they don’t have to be superheroes, just regular heroes would be fine.