Movie News & Reviews

Inevitable 'Twilight' sequel has nowhere to go but up

When my tin-can phone rang to wake me up at Critic of Pure Reason HQin the weeds along Highway 240 to let me know my latest assignmentinvolved vampires and sexy teens, I was so excited I almost spilled myswamp-water.

Vampires and teens fit like feet and fingerless foot-gloves. They'reboth moody and romantic, and if you try to date one you end up withpointy things jammed in your neck, be they extended fangs or sharpenedprison spoons. Another movie to combine the two, Lost Boys,remains a timeless classic. (Seriously.)

So it's about damn time someone wrote a young adult crossover smashbook series that demanded to be adapted to the silver screen, nomatter how lifeless and unskilled that adaptation may be. At last, ourcollective national prayer has been answered: Twilight hasreached our theaters, and from here, the inevitable second movie willhave nowhere to go but up.

Kristen Stewart is living every teen's dream: forced to movemid-semester to small-town Forks, Wash., with a distant but well-meaningdad. As the hot new property, she's beset by guys on every side, buthas eyes only for pale weirdo hunk Robert Pattinson.

He, on the other hand, gets physically ill when she sits next to himin class. As with all classic love stories, it isn't until Pattinsonsaves her life by punching an out-of-control car out of the way andlater rescuing her from a gang of drunken rapists that he admits he'sbeen watching her all along.

Using the powers of deduction and Google, Stewart makes him confesshis secret: he's a vampire, and he's afraid of being with her becausehe wants so bad to drink her blood until she dies. Yet they can't denytheir feelings for each other. And meanwhile, bodies are turning uparound town -- mutilated, apparently killed by wild animals.

Twilight is the progressive tale of the creepy, overprotectiveboy and the girl who is quite literally a helpless piece of meat.Also, in an extended metaphor for the evils of premarital sex, theseyoung lovers can't screw or even kiss without it leading to the girldying in a tornado of blood. You know, just like last Saturday.

As an illiterate, I can't say for certain whether this follows authorStephenie Meyer's wildly popular source material, but if anything, itshould have diverged more. Playing like the first chapter to afranchise its makers must feel is guaranteed, Twilight spendsfar too much time leisurely establishing a relationship that isn'tcompelling until (as usual) the vampirism kicks in.

This is a far worse crime than its eye-rolling thematic material. It'sOK to have long tension-light stretches in a book (books aresupposed to be boring), but when your first external threat doesn'tshow up until the movie is 85 percent over and is then established through twolines of expository dialogue, it might be time to think aboutrestructuring your story.

The writing's more interesting on a line-by-line level, where the teencharacters speak and act like real teens: stumbling over words, goingvague when they try to express their feelings, flustering underpressure. Don't see that very often.

Downside is, the reason you don't see it is because it's not actuallyall that fun to listen to. Confusingly, Pattinson, who's been alivefor more than a 100 years, is one of the worst offenders when it comesto sputtering around like a cartoon Model T. I don't know what he'sbeen doing in the last century that involves never, ever speaking togirls -- radio DJ, maybe -- but when you think about it, not only does itmake no sense that a guy who's 100+ years old still has the mentalityof a high schooler, but it's also kind of freaky that he's desperately inlove with a 17-year-old girl.

That's the kind of thing I'd get to thinking about as Twilightconsistently failed to hold my interest. With its plodding plot,humorlessly melodramatic characters and backwards messages, it's hardto imagine it'll convert anyone who isn't already a fan.

Grade: C-