I arrived at the theater at my usual time, 15 minutes before the film’s scheduled start, and the place was swarmed. Twenty people in line for tickets, twice as many in line for popcorn. It was so crowded, they almost put the kid waiting for a job interview to work immediately behind the cash register (good luck, by the way. Show business is hard to break into).
They (mostly women of all ages) weren’t there to see J.Edgar, Tower Heist or the Bolshoi Ballet’s rendition of The Sleeping Beauty (by the way, try to imagine American audiences at a movie theater in Peoria watching a closed-circuit USSR ballet during the Brezhnev years, before the fall of Communism. Nyet.).
They were all there to see The Twilight Saga: Breaking Down. Currently showing on at least four screens at the mall theater, with screenings beginning every 20 minutes and in its third day of release, I thought everyone with a passing interest in werewolves and vampires would have already seen this movie.
I was wrong. I couldn’t even sit in my usual moviehouse perch, the last row in the corner, due to the crowds. That also meant that I couldn’t take notes during the movie, because I take notes on my phone, which tends to drive the other patrons berserk. And with 50 metric tons of estrogen wafting around the theater, I didn’t want to risk mob action retaliation against the male reviewer. So we’re relying solely on memory today (and imdb.com, of course).
Also, I avoided all available Twilight information before. I hadn’t seen any of the three previous Twilight films, nor had I read any of the books. I’m not in the right demographic.
However, shouldn’t a film aim to deliver a cohesive, understandable plot to the uninitiated and those not in the proper viewing segment? My mental lack of context did prove to be hampering. I didn’t know the history of vampires versus werewolves (although I eventually figured out the feud, apparently as old as Jets versus Sharks or mods versus rockers. There’s your obligatory weekly Who reference, by the way) that had occurred in previous incarnations of the franchise. For instance, during the wedding, based on the characters’ creepy eyes and weird physical capabilities, I thought this was some kind of monster mashup, with fiends and ghouls all vying for the bride’s garter. I was expecting E.T. to show up with a toaster as a gift. Nope.
Which brings me to another important point. There was no humor whatsoever in this movie. My fellow patrons snickered at some moments, which were apparently allusions to the prior films. There were plenty of opportunities too, especially with a wedding providing an important scene. How about blood as the first toast? Or a priest that’s allergic to the nearby werewolves? How about the first dance being Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s Monster Mash? How about going more subtle and feature a Vampire Weekend song on the soundtrack? Come on. Try a little bit, Hollywood filmmakers.
Based on the crowds, it doesn’t matter much that the dialogue here was terrible, or that the actors conveyed little or no chemistry (they all seemed to have trouble looking into each others’ creepy, yellow and/or red eyes). The audiences had already paid before the lameness incubated.
The picture does feature a lot of Kristen Stewart prancing around in her underwear, at least until she gets knocked up by Robert Pattinson (her werewolf husband). There’s also some puzzling, inner-body, Jules Verne-like cinematography that takes place late in the picture. It doesn’t add anything.
If you’re a fan of the books and the prior incarnations, you’ll probably enjoy this one. Otherwise wait and go see the The Muppets next weekend with me and my unruly kids.