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Twilight: Eclipse

In November 2008, American director Catherine Hardwicke’s much anticipated Twilight was released in film theatres worldwide, a fantasy romance based on Stephenie Meyer’s well-known novel of the same name. It was a story of vampires, teenage angst and the consequences of forbidden love, one which captured the imaginations of teens all around the world, going on to gross over $392 million at the box office. It gained a multitude of dedicated fans, most of whom would have contributed to the flick’s MTV Movie Award win for Best Film and quickly made Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart into global mega-stars. It is not without its haters, however, there are many who, for several understandable reasons, spit or squirm at the mere whisper of the film’s name.

The sequel, named New Moon, was then unleashed in 2009, this time Chris Hewitt (The Golden Compass, About A Boy) in the director’s chair. Although received harshly by most critics, it proved popular with the mass amount of fans, becoming the third highest grossing film, like, ever. But this title may be under threat, for there is a new film prowling about, pickpocketing moviegoers for what looks to be a rather admirable final collection of cash.

On its opening night it made a record-breaking $30 million through midnight screenings in North America and I’d say it’s pretty likely it ain’t gonna be a flop. Ironically, this movie is from the same franchise, or “saga” as it has called itself, as New Moon. Yes, this is Eclipse, the third in the love it or hate it Twilight series, released just eight months after its predecessor. And I can wholly guarantee you that this will undoubtedly have hormonal adolescent girls everywhere frantically skipping with delight. As well as me, although to a lesser degree. I’m more reserved.

Pattinson and Stewart reprise their famous roles as Edward Cullen and Bella Swan, two passionate lovebirds in a relationship where the latter is a normal, mopey teenage girl and the former is a sexy, sexy, mmm vampire. Edward and Bella seem perfectly happy together, but Bella is being harassed by Mr. Topless werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who claims that she has feelings for him like he has feelings for her. Such a romantic. So, Bella is in a bit of a tangle, having to choose if she should stay with Edward or run away with bad-boy Jacob. It’s basically like an episode of 90210 with a cast primarily made up of vampires and werewolves instead. And it’s not total bollocks.

Meanwhile, red-headed evil vampire Victoria (this time played by Bryce Dallas Howard) is still on the hunt for Bella after believing that she was responsible for her boyfriend’s death, which occurred in the first movie. She is building an army of new-borns, those who have recently been turned into blood-suckers, who she plans to use to slaughter Edward’s family and get to Bella to tear her freakin’ brooding head off! Nasty.

First off, I’d like to say that I am not a Twilight fan. Far from it really. Despite having enjoyed the first two movies, I have always had an odd contempt for anything even remotely associated with the franchise. This was mainly due to my knowledge of the delusional fans of the saga who obsess over it, talking about it constantly while living in a dream-world where Edward Cullen is their loving husband, and these kind of freaky nutcases have always forced me into detesting the very essence of Twilight. But I think that Eclipse has rid me of these hateful thoughts.

What really struck me about Eclipse is how grown-up it seemed to be. Unlike its predecessors, Eclipse is not a majestic feast of extra-strong cheese, I saw it as much more mature in tone as well as exceedingly self-aware, which is more than I can say for New Moon. Yes, the topless guys running about with their abs practically dancing for the camera is still there, but even with this it appeared to be aware of how silly it was. “Don’t you have a shirt?” Edward jokingly asks Jacob, who is indeed straddling a car, topless, his muscles protruding as he poses like a motherfucker.

The franchise has finally reached a stage where it has seen itself for what it is and what it has become, so it has managed how to work out a way of being more respectable, being more adult about its subject matter. It was fairly clear to me that this was mostly, if not fully due to the magnificent choice of director, David Slade. I mean, this is the guy who did Hard Candy and 30 Days of Night, both of which carry very strong atmospheres, a thing which Twilight needed to further itself fully. Slade has taken this film and has made it more than I thought it could be. He has given it genuine intelligence and a powerful feel to it.

Then again, it is still a BI film, so limitations are inevitable. The corniness is unavoidable, coming across in quite a few scenes where the off/on dialogue is a bit too lovey-dovey and iffy at points. “I’ll fight for you until your heart stops beating,” Jacob says to Bella. Ugh. There’s also just the simple plot of Bella having to choose between Edward and Jacob which is a little too silly to be taken seriously, it can be a tad cringe-worthy. And, oh yeah, the sparkly vampires. Seriously, what the hell?

One of the film’s strong points though is in the exhilarating fight scenes. I found myself raising an eyebrow at the very first action scene with Victoria being chased through the forest by the Cullen clan, a sequence nothing short of impressive. Although I wasn’t a fan of the super-fast movements which incorporated the vamps in the previous two installments, it is very well-shot here and used to great effect, giving the sequence that extra oomph and sparkle (pun intended). Victoria races between the tall trees, jumping and gliding as the Cullens do the same behind her just before the big bad wolves gallop in and pounce her. The sequence is short, yet it did leave a striking impression on me, showing Slade as a director with a knack for action.

And then there’s the final battle scene, the blood-suckers VS wolf-men fight from which clips have been used and thrown into TV spots which made it look overblown and simply desperate to look awesome. In the actual film, nonetheless, it does achieve this level of awesomeness it is striving for, giving the movie a fantastic finale which is both thrilling and exciting.

The special effects are also very much of high quality, with the most obvious use being of that on the wolves. These are big, bulking creatures which are superbly animated, relating marvelously with their surroundings. There’s a scene in which Bella is standing next to Jacob in his wolf form and their interaction with each other is brilliantly executed.

As for the acting, well, in a Twilight film you’re not exactly expecting Marlon Brando or Phillip Seymour Hoffman levels of performances. Not even Keanu Reeves quality. On the other hand, our leading man is pretty darn good. Pattinson is usually slotted in the “talentless actor” category, but I found his performance to be the best in the film. He makes Edward a very intriguing and emotionally involving character, the only one who I cared about for the majority of the movie. Sure, Pattinson’s not flawless here, but he most definitely is not bad at all like some would automatically think.

Stewart is also decent enough, although she has always made Bella come across as a mopey, whiny, snot-nosed, grouchy little baby who I don’t really give an airborne crap about. The fractious nature of her is to a lesser extent here, yet she’s still a tedious moper. Now, Lautner. I have to give it straight here, he’s a bland actor. His performance in Eclipse is just wooden, he’s practically a hunky, talking prop in many of the scenes he’s in. He comes in, shows off his abs, says some smart lines with no expression in his eyes and buggers off, sulking. I’m maybe being a bit too harsh, but yeah, he’s not great.

I was surprised by Eclipse, I really was. I was expecting the same lousy, laughable, cheesy pile of lameness which New Moon took on, when instead what I got was a mature, grown-up and well-made fantasy, and an epic one at that. It’s slow-moving, but the action scenes are great and Slade’s the perfect man to have helmed this project to bring it to a new level. Although I still feel the first is superior, Eclipse is just behind it, held back by some unnecessary corniness and “meh” acting from Lautner. Team Edward FTW.

Seven outta Ten.

Watson

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I’m ‘Glamored’ by “True Blood”…and I like it.

truebloodjoeTrue Blood is a show that after watching the pilot, I wasn’t overly impressed. Interesting concept, good acting, but nothing to go crazy over. I was actually very disappointed. This is produced by Alan Ball for crying out loud! The man who created Six Feet Under made this?! (which is quite possibly the most brilliant, complexly written series I’ve seen ) However, I felt there was room for potential in the series and decided to bite my tongue (no pun intended) and keep watching.

I’m on the second season now. I’m proud to say this one of the few TV shows I’ve actually made an effort to stay on top of and I haven’t missed an episode yet. My girlfriend and I are now True Blood addicts and discuss on the phone the episodes we’ve seen and what situations the characters will get into like two giddy high school girls.

The storytelling feels organic. It doesn’t feel like something borrowed (despite being based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels written by Charlaine Harris) and cliche. It has a mind of its own and it’s constantly surprising. The story just keeps getting more interesting between characters. Things get so crazy that you have doubts the writers can pull it off. They haven’t failed yet. The show carries on the myths about vampires (stakes in the heart, silver, crucifixes, day light) and brings attention to overlooked perspectives on vampires. Such as their memories, their place in history, and how that has carried over to the way certain vampires behave in the present.

It also features some new abilities such as retractable fangs that allow them to blend in with the human population (if someone tells them to say cheese, they’re not totally fucked). Vampires can “glamor” their victims and control their mind. If vamps were Jedis they would’ve won the war against the Empire in no time. Darth Vader would’ve pissed his space pants. Vampires are now organized in their community with sheriffs, kings, and other leaders who govern sections of states.

The undertones of the show are also fascinating. At the very start of the show, vampires have now “come out of the coffin” and have revealed their existence to the world. No longer working behind the scenes, they’ve now become a part of society. That’s not to say that they’re no longer taboo to humans. If anything, the human race is having an even harder time accepting vampires as something real and not myth. Because of this vampires are now in the civil rights spectrum fighting for equal rights and tolerance. Religious and racial persecution all play parts and motives within the show with such groups as the Fellowship of the Sun–a religious group that condemns vampires and supports violence against the vampire race.

The two main characters, Sookie Stackhouse played by Anna Pacquin (a human with telepathic abilities), and Bill Compton played by Stephen Moyer ( a vampire who struggles to regain his sense of humanity) are perfect examples of victims of persecution. Bill and Sookie are a couple to the dismay of both vampires and humans within the town. It may sound like something from a cheesy emo vampire novel (no sparkles included) but their story is mostly about the burden and the danger that come with being a human and vampire couple (an interracial couple during a time of extreme intolerance).

Suck it.

Suck it.

The characters all have their strengths and weaknesses as well as their good sides and bad sides. They all have their share of troubles, but the troubles these characters face would make Bernard Madoff blush. You’ll be saying to yourself, “Oh fuck…” a lot. All characters are likable, even the bad ones. Some you’ll cheer on more than others, like Lafayette. A bad ass cross-dressing gay cook who deals V, vampire blood that is trippier and will get you higher than the blood of Keith Richards and Jerry Garcia combined!

He’s funny, he’s loyal to his friends (whether it’s in his interest or not) and he’s not afraid to tell someone to fuck off. He gives cross dressing cooks like Barefoot Contessa a run for their money.

The action is also very good in this show. Violence is depicted raw and somewhat jaw dropping. I haven’t seen a character die of old age, disease, or in their sleep yet. We’ll put it that way.

The only problem I have with the second season so far, is the cliffhangers. Lately it’s been cliffhanger after cliffhanger. The episodes seem to stop when something insane happens (or an “oh shit!” moment, if you will..)and then you curse at the ending credits.

Then you salivate at the next episode’s preview. The second season is doing a mighty fine job of keeping you wanting more. It’ll reveal you some major plot points but not expose them completely. I’m also very excited to see the other supernatural elements in the show such as werewolves , shape shifters, and the vampires in other areas. If you haven’t seen the first season, I highly recommend you give it a watch and check out season 2. This show if taking off big time and has quite a large fan base.

Alan Ball is very good with producing shows that are far from the norm with some very intriguing story telling. You can’t go wrong. I mean, what else is out there featuring vampires? Twilight? HA!twilightcountJoe G/

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Three Movies You Just Might Have to See

alexbw1. The Informant!

Remember Matt Damon? That guy from the Borne movies whose latest opus was a song about fucking Sarah Silverman? Yeah! That one! He’s back, and he’s got a funny moustache now. In this comedy, Matt Damon plays a clueless corporate employee who is wrangled by the FBI to go undercover and reap information about his superiors’ illegal activity. I love seeing handsome serious actors play absent-minded social retards in movies.

You wouldn’t think it would be believable, but…there ya go!

2. Couples Retreat

Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn play so well together you almost forget you’re watching a movie.  MADE didn’t have the same soul that Swingers did, but they were both so charming that I can’t take one without the other. This isn’t another Jon Favreau movie, and certainly doesn’t feel like one, but the cast makes you value Favreau for everything that he is.

The trailer allows you to take a step back, take in the relationship comedy, bright exotic colors, and learn to love what is essentially a Will Ferrell movie that he was passed up for because they didn’t want it to blow.

3. Daybreakers

I guess I can appreciate that the Vampire genre is starting to be taken a little more seriously. If I were a huge Vampire fan, I’d likely be ecstatic that I can rent Twilight when I want to be a little pussy, and I can watch True Blood On Demand when I need to rub one out to fast-motion sadistic pornography.

I’m not being facetious; I really never gave a shit about Vampires in Television, Film, or Literature. To me, the draw of the Vampire story represents the subconscious need for a cheesy, dime store Romance novel  combined with the excitement of watching a woman bleed to death.

So, I recognize the need to romanticize the undead. You can’t exactly do that with a Zombie…or a Werewolf, really…but Twilight: New Moon is taking a stab at beastiality.

Daybreakers is set in a world where almost everyone is a Vampire, and the few humans left must either fight or survival or be harvested for blood. It’s pretty high concept, but it looks pretty fucking cool.

Essentially, a similar story to True Blood without the epic nerd boner you get from seeing Rogue’s funbags.

Alex G

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