3 posts categorized "Twilight"


Girl's in the hood

Gee, "Red Riding Hood," what big ties you have.

To the "Twilight" franchise.

Harmless enough as a semi-desperate attempt to find one more excuse to expose a teeny-bopper lovers' triangle to a lurking monster, "Red Riding Hood" begins to irritate not long after the title character, called Valerie here, skips to the deep forest watering hole, then skips out on her mother's strict orders to come straight back.

It's not the almost mind-boggling stretch to retool a fairy tale into a monster tale aimed at teens that gnaws at the intellect so much.  It's director Catherine Hardwicke's determination -- enabled, one supposes, by a major movie studio -- to continue making "Twilight" flicks long after a not-so-congenial parting of the ways from that franchise.

Hardwicke, the Texas native, has real directing chops.  She ("Thirteen," "Lords of Dogtown," "The Nativity Story") just hasn't called on them much lately.  Hardwicke called the shots on the first "Twilight" cinematic cash cow in 2008, and now appears unable to shut down the moody girl and two rival dreamboat guys dynamic.

The "Red Riding Hood" production notes make the point that the familiar fairy tale has become sanitized over the years.  This film, the notes proclaim, embraces the tale's dark side.

Fair enough, but I'd be willing to bet my box of Milk Duds that the old tale never took a "Twilight" slant; a deeply haunted damsel torn between two chiseled-face hunks, one of whom might just be the beast that likes to snack on the locals every full moon.

Amanda Seyfried, who found idyllic love between ABBA tunes in "Mamma Mia!" in 2008 and has worked steadily since ("Dear John," "Letters to Juliet"), dons the red cloak hoodie as Valerie.

She gets to glimpse into the eyes of the monster and, I'm not making this up, even have a conversation with the furry beast.  Since the visiting werewolf killer (Gary Oldman chewing the scenery and spitting it out) informs the villagers that the werewolf returns to human form in daylight, Valerie spends a considerable amount of screen time gazing into everyone's eyes, including her Grandmama (portrayed by a slumming Julie Christie), who has -- Don't get ahead of me here -- big eyes.

At least a silly movie like this provides screen work for some budding talent.  Shiloh Fernandez ("Deadgirl," "Cadillac Records") gazes into Seyfried's eyes well enough as Peter, her true love.  I like the work of young Max Irons as Henry, the town blacksmith (oddly enough).  If that name Irons sounds familiar.  Yes, Max is the son of award-winning actors Jeremy Irons and Sinead Cusack.

If you're a teenager who must have something to do with your movie dollars between "Twilight" flicks, I suppose seeing "Red Riding Hood" will be less unpleasant than running out of texting minutes (today's equivalent of being poked in the eye with a sharp stick).

On the other hand, even less discerning fantasy-thriller fans might notice that it snows a lot in the village of Daggerhorn (actually a soundstage in Vancouver) and no one seems to cover up much.

The better to see young bodies in various stages of romantic frenzy, my dears.


Acting and other 'Twilight' things that bite

Lines that are not in "The Twilight Saga:  Eclipse," but should be.

Edward Cullen, perpetual teen vampire:  "Wanna grab a quick bite after graduation?"

Bella Swan, pouting graduating senior virgin human two-timer who's constantly teasing a certain vampire and a certain perpetually shirtless werewolf:  "Yeah, and a cool one."

We might as well joke about "Eclipse," the third "Twilight" movie.  This monster-human romance series has continually morphed into a spoof of itself ever since filmmaker Catherine Hardwicke, a Texas native, left or was given the boot after the initial "Twilight" in 2008.

Hardwicke launched the teen-scream franchise with a decent enough teen vampire/civilian moody blue love story.

The franchise has gone down thrill ever since.

The acting is more stilted with each outing, even from capable Dakota Fanning in her second cameo in this one as Jane, a member of the Volturi (a vampire ruling group).

British director David Slade, who takes over the franchise with No. 3, made a real movie (with real dialogue, real drama and stuff) titled "Hard Candy" in 2005.  He followed-up with the eerie vampire monster mash "30 Days of Night" in 2007 and should have left his bloodsucking horror helming at that.

There's nowhere to go with the "Twilight" franchise, except to orchestrate the further slide down the slippery slope into a perfect storm of pop culture phenomenon, young teen girls with a crush on a dreamy big-screen, milk-faced imaginary boyfriend ("Oh, he bites?  Well, nobody's perfect.") and peer pressure to jump on the latest pop bandwagon.

In Episode 3, based on Stephenie Meyer's novel "Eclipse" and once again adapted by Melissa Rosenberg, the folks of Forks, WA are gearing up for high school graduation.  Bella (Kristen Stewart) isn't sending out invitations or applying to any colleges, though.

The forever glum "Twilight" ingénue spends her time sitting in a field of wildflowers discussing when she and 100-year-old teen vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) are going to "do it," which, of course, means to turn her into an immortal so they can live happily ever after and after and after.

Now this is shocking.  I mean, a vampire able to sit comfortably outside in broad daylight?  Who signed off on a complete disregard for vampire rules?  Is nothing sacred in schlocky monster-horror flicks anymore?

Putting that monumental problem aside for a second, nothing much of interest happens in the second "Twilight" sequel.  Edward and ab-noxious, muscle-flexing werewolf rival Jacob Black (decent actor Taylor Lautner) are forced to form an uneasy alliance, which is no big whoop.

A Newborn Army of blood-thirsty vampires is strolling down through the woods from Seattle to have a go at ripping Bella to shreds.   She has little time to worry about such things.  Bella has more pressing problems, like juggling bracelets given to her by each of her beast beaus.

The jugular will just have to wait until the next sequel.

That one should be titled, but isn't, "Twilight's Last Gleaming."


'New Moon' falling, not rising

"New Moon" sulks.

Not sucks, mind you, for a couple of reasons, except it kind of does that as well.

First off, frenzied fans of the initial "Twilight" movie last year or those bedazzled by Stephenie Meyer's four best-selling fantasy-romance novels are probably predestined to like, perhaps even gush over "The Twilight Saga:  New Moon."

They'll probably barely notice, if at all, that director Chris Weitz's continuation of the brooding girl-meets-handsome vampire yarn brings nothing more to a movie screen than generally poor acting (especially from younger cast members), worse dialogue ("I guess the wolf's out of the bag now")  and a couple of shirtless hunks-to-wolf computer graphic transitions that grow tiresome quickly.

The other reason "New Moon" doesn't suck is that no humans were sucked bloodless during the making of this motion picture.  At least not where the audience is privy to the grisly process.

It's too bad "Twilight" director Catherine Hardwicke, the Texas native who called the shots on "Thirteen" and  "The Nativity Story," was separated from this installment over "creative differences."  The second outing, in which the franchise lets the "dogs" out, so to speak, is an overly drawn-out sequel that merely rehashes the human/otherworldly creature attraction that Hardwicke made near-magical last year.

High school teen Bella (Kristen Stewart) flirts with two "guys" and danger in "New Moon."  In a plot twist I fail to comprehend, Edward pushes true love Bella away and even uproots his vampire family from woodsy Forks, WA (but shot mostly in Vancouver) shortly after her 18th birthday.  Why?  There's a vampire price on her head, or to be more accurate, Bella's neck.

Vindictive red-headed vampire Victoria, played briefly by Rachelle Lefevre here (and in "Twilight") but who'll be replaced by Bryce Dallas Howard in the next outing, is coming for Bella.  Edward and his night-stalkers appear to offer her the only protection.  So, they exit stage right?

Bella may be unlucky in love, but just as there are other fish in the sea, there are other creatures lurking in the forest (where she wanders a lot despite continual horrific danger).  Conveniently, her old childhood pal Jacob (Taylor Lautner) just happens to be transitioning into his werewolf years.  Killing vampires is what these larger-than-life band-of-shirtless-brother wolves do.  

So screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg ("Twilight," "Step Up") fills time between Edward's absence and his return with angst-filled nights where Bella is prone to screaming fits and daylight hours spent rebuilding an old motorcycle with Jacob.  She needs the bike to fulfill her only link to Edward through adrenalin-junkie rush brushes with danger.  (How many girls do you know who'll jump off a cliff to see a CGI image of their best fella?)

It's all pretty silly, except it won't be for the target audience who can't seem to get enough of Lautner whipping off his shirt at every opportunity.  (Lautner must have been a Matthew McConaughey fan growing up.)

Most of the "Twilight" actors are back.  One thing Weitz ("The Golden Compass," "About a Boy") does well -- one of the only things, in fact -- is cut down on the chalky white makeup on Peter Facinelli, who plays Cullen clan patriarch Carlisle.

By the time "New Moon" makes a mad dash to a rustic village in Italy near the end, I thought I had fallen asleep and woke up in another "Da Vinci Code" sequel because of all the folks in red robes.  I'm glad this plot goes there, though.  Michael Sheen, who played a creature in the "Underworld" series, is creepy enough as head vampire dude Aro.

The real treat is seeing all-grown-up Dakota Fanning as sweet-faced Jane, an innocent-faced vampire that can inflict pain merely by willing it.

That's what this slow-paced, morose franchise needs, a red-eyed Little Miss Sunshine with fangs.

Now that's something to howl at the "New Moon" about.