Tag Archives: movie reaction

Things I Liked in Wonder Woman Movie

I have seen the new Wonder Woman film (directed by Patty Jenkins) twice so far, and I love it. Spoiler-y reaction in more detail below:

WW courage2

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Things I Liked about Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I love that it starts without the traditional scrolling text. This Star Wars story is more urgent, less epic–but not less significant!

I love that the first visual we get is disorienting, planet rings from below half-blocked by the planet’s shadow, and you’re not sure what you’re even looking at until it changes perspective and now we see, ah, there’s the planet, and now the rings and the shadow make sense. Because this film’s story is looking at a series we’re familiar with, but from a very different perspective than we’ve seen before. The other side of the rings!

I love K-2SO. A snarky droid after my own heart!

I love Captain Cassian Andor. He’s dreamy!!

rogue-one-a-star-wars-story-diego-luna-as-cassian-andor-1

my new crush

**spoilery things i loved below**

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Alternate Title Suggestions for The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies

Even though I had already decided that The Hobbit definitely didn’t need three films, I just want to reiterate that position; having seen the final installment, I remain utterly convinced that it never should have become a trilogy. The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies is entertaining for sure, but like in a “let’s get drunk and watch it with friends while we make sarcastic comments” kind of way. Remember how the last one failed to include the desolating of a certain dragon, even though that was the title? And originally the third film was supposed to be called “There and Back Again”, but it became “Battle of the Five Armies” in a change that Jackson called “completely appropriate.”  I have some suggestions of my own for alternative titles that I believe would have also been completely appropriate:

The Hobbit: More Thranduil Please!

The Hobbit: Every Creature In Middle Earth Is Probably A Mount: A Pig, A Moose, A Goat, A Bat, You Name It!

The Hobbit: My Strange Addiction: Dragon Sickness

The Hobbit: Do I Have To Try To Melt A Dragon To Get A Solid Gold Floor Like That? Because It Looks Awesome

The Hobbit: Everything In Middle Earth Has Been Bred For A Single Purpose (And That Purpose Is War)

The Hobbit: The Laws Of Physics Don’t Apply To Legolas

The Hobbit: Only Half Of The Dwarves Get Speaking Roles

The Hobbit: Martin Freeman Is A Treasure In Every One Of His Scenes Even In This Stupid Movie

The Hobbit: Thirteen Dwarves Without Helmets Make All The Difference In A Literal Battle With FIVE F–KING ARMIES!

The Hobbit: Elvish Fathers And Sons Are Too Pretty To Hug It Out

The Hobbit: It’s Always Eagles To The Rescue At The End Of A Middle Earth Story. IT’S ALWAYS F–KING EAGLES!

MY FAVE! He's so gloriously disdainful of everyone else.

MY FAVE! He’s so gloriously disdainful of everyone else.

(Seriously, can we get a story that is just an exploration of the eagles inner politics and why they never get involved until the last dire minute?) I did like seeing Galadriel wield her ring of power, I LOVED Thranduil and his ostentatious moose, Smaug was terrific, and the credits sequence was beautiful.  But all the good, necessary parts in this bloated, fan-fictiony trilogy could have easily fit into two films, An Unexpected Adventure and There and Back Again.  And the titles would have made more sense.

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The Hobbit: Less Desolate On Second Viewing

I was finally able to see The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for a second time, and I have to admit it was better watching it again.  Whether that was because I knew what would happen so the disappointment/annoyance wasn’t fresh, or I was able to focus on the elements that I did enjoy since I’d already cataloged the things I didn’t like, I don’t know.  And I did notice a few new things that I didn’t like.  But I don’t want to let my first reaction to the movie be my last post about it, because I neglected to include any of the things that I did like about the film in that post, and there were some really great moments.

I still think the movie is way too long, and there are inclusions that I will never understand–like, do we really need so many lingering shots of the giant bumblebees at Beorn’s house?  And how are the orcs so fast they can keep up with and at times run ahead of the dwarves, who are traveling at the speed of the rushing river?  (And how is there a seemingly never-ending supply of orcs anyway?)

Thranduil is PERFECT, though.  He might be my favorite thing about this movie.  I know I already said that but it was just doubly reinforced watching his scenes a second time.  He’s majestic and petty and knowledgeable but sassy and selfish and beautiful.

perfection

perfection

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Good Story-telling

When you read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, did you think, “yeah this is a great story and all, but my favorite things are the character and place names! Everything else could be changed,”?  If so, then Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the movie for you!

I suppose that summation may be a little overly harsh.  But for the last two weeks I’ve been feeling guilty about deciding I wasn’t going to be able to do a whole spectacular costume and line party like I did last year for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, and as I sat in the theater last night I kept thinking wow, I’m glad I didn’t go all out for this one, because it would have been an embarrassing waste of time and energy and made the film an even more bitter disappointment.  After the first Hobbit film came out I said I would reserve judgment on splitting the 300-page book into three extra-long films until I’d seen them all, but that’s no longer necessary.  I can definitively state that it was a bad decision, and no matter how glorious the final installment may end up being, this middle movie, in which no substantial plot progress is made and there are no character arcs, should never have been made.

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Biblo is terrified the movie will end before he gets substantial character development.

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Catching Fire Opening Night

cf outfitsSo I went to see Catching Fire on opening night with a group of friends.  I’m tagging this write-up as “midnight showing” even though it was technically an 8 pm showing; most movies don’t really wait to premiere at midnight anymore, and although part of me thinks that’s a little sad, another part of me is getting old and appreciates not having to stay up so late.  It was a good premiere; I wasn’t able to organize and prepare as much as I did for the first film, but we dressed up in Capitol fashion and the movie itself was, in my opinion, better than the first.

The thing about shows that start before midnight is there isn’t as much waiting-in-line time to fill, so I kinda over-prepared and we didn’t end up doing all the activities I had planned, but that’s alright since a lot of them didn’t take much effort.  (For example, if we needed to kill time I thought we could play a version of the “telephone” game were you start with a phrase and whisper it from one person to another to see if it ends up the same at the end, but call it “mockingjay,” and use phrases like “Peeta has hot cross buns.”)

We did play the game that I spent the most time preparing for, which was Arena Trivia.  Everyone playing was a Tribute in the Trivia Arena and started with a perfect 20 health.  When it was their turn, they spun a wheel to see how lethal of a “weapon” question they would be able to wield against an opponent; easy questions were a knife and would only take five health points away if the Tribute they selected to aim the question at got it wrong, but harder questions were a machete (minus 10 health if missed) or near-deadly trident (minus 15).  Tributes could form allies by helping someone else answer a question if they wished, but, in the end, there could only be one victor.  The wheel also had a small wedge labeled “a gift from your sponsor”; if Tributes landed on that section when it was their turn, they could draw a healing card instead of a question that would give them back a portion of the health they had lost.  (Most of the healing cards would only restore 5 health, but there were a couple 10s and 15s in there too).  It worked really well, (except maybe I should have made some of the questions easier), and I’m pretty dang proud of how well themed it was.  I think it’s totally marketable.

This Arena Trivia spin-wheel was made from a Twister game's.  The different levels of questions were printed on different colored paper and separated into pouches based on difficulty.

This Arena Trivia spin-wheel was made from a Twister game’s. The different levels of questions were printed on different colored paper and separated into pouches based on difficulty.

Each Tribute had one of these health bars to keep track of how close to "death" they were. They had to put a sticker on 5-point sections depending on how hard of a question they missed, but if they got a gift from a sponsor, they could cover a colored sticker with a white one to regain health.

Each Tribute had one of these health bars to keep track of how close to “death” they were. They had to put a sticker on 5-point sections depending on how hard of a question they missed, but if they got a gift from a sponsor, they could cover a colored sticker with a white one to regain health.

Sugar cube prize bags that I handed out at the Catching Fire premiere.  Other prizes included Catching Fire magnets and a grand prize of the soundtrack CD.

Sugar cube prize bags that I handed out at the Catching Fire premiere. Other prizes included Catching Fire magnets and a grand prize of the soundtrack CD.

I really have very few negative things to say about the movie itself at all, which is pretty amazing given my tendency to be very nit-picky and critical.  It stayed very close to the book with a surprising amount of dialogue coming verbatim from the pages Suzanne Collins wrote.  The things that were skipped or condensed didn’t really alter any of the action or character development, (like Katniss figuring out what the spile is right away, and realizing what Wiress meant by “tick tock” faster, leaving out the bread drop communications and the prolonged healing from the poison fog scars, leaving out Bonnie and Twill because it was established through the visualization of the Victory Tour that there was an uprising and that Katniss was an inspiration to people, etc.), and like the first movie the elements in the film that were not found in the book added wonderful insight and depth to the story, (like President Snow’s granddaughter idolizing Katniss–that was genius!  And I’m so glad we got to actually see the painting of Rue that Peeta did for the Gamemakers, to “hold them accountable, if only for a moment…for killing that little girl” as he says in the book, instead of just hearing about it.)

They even included a tiny visual reference to one of my favorite characters from the first film, Seneca Crane(‘s beard).  When Katniss hung the dummy labeled with his name for her evaluation, she painted his signature swirly beard on it’s chin!  I remember this being a common idea among the fandom after the first film, that oh, wouldn’t it be great if they really show her hang the Seneca dummy in the second film and they include the beard?  To see it actually transpire that way on screen felt almost like it was a bit of an inside joke for the die-hard fans, whether or not they intended it that way.  Speaking of amazing visuals, that mockingjay dress was spectacular.  Even though I had seen most of that scene already in the trailer, I was blown away by how incredible it looked.  Whereas Katniss’ flaming dress at the interview scene in the first film is a bit pathetic and too-obviously CGI, this time around I literally could not have imagined it better.

So far the only criticisms I can come up with are:

  • Prim’s “Katniss! Katniss! Katniss!” screaming at the Reaping is too shrill, but really, I thought that last movie too.  Maybe that’s just the actress’s voice.
  • The music in some scenes was too exactly similar (or exactly the same?) to the score in the first film.  It’s fine to reuse/recycle themes, but in a couple places it sounded 100% the same, like the Tribute Parade, (which is maybe understandable if they basically use the Panem national anthem for that every year), and the Victory Ball at the Capitol, (which really didn’t seem to match the music beat for dramatic beat effectively).
  • In the Arena, they establish that there is no fresh water source except for the trees, but then when Katniss, Peeta, and Finnick are leeching the poison from their bodies they are in what appears to be a freshwater pool, not the saltwater at the beach.  I understand the change since it allows for the monkey attack to happen sooner, but it’s an inconsistency.
  • This isn’t really a criticism, more of a funny observance–why does Peeta stand up in the middle of his living room to watch TV?  (When they are watching President Snow announce the Quarter Quell).  Is it one of the tricks they tried to make us think he’s taller than Josh Hutcherson really is?

But really, almost everything was perfect.  Effie was perfect, with her shallow growth and her gold hair! Finnick was lovely!  Mags broke my heart with her warmth and sacrifice!  Beetee melted my heart with his nerd-speak!  Prim impressed me with her calm taking-charge to tend Gale.  Plutarch Heavensbee, Haymitch, Cinna, (*sob* Cinna!) and Johanna were great.  The whole thing was just spot-on!  Peeta was still not as good as book-Peeta, but he was much improved over the last film’s bastardization of his character, and really all I can think about Peeta-wise right now is this.  (Warning: that last link is a spoiler if you haven’t read Mockingjay yet).

I’ll definitely be going to see Catching Fire again.  But now my movie-party-planning focus has to switch gears for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  It’s only a few weeks away!

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Thoughts on “The Bling Ring”

I saw Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring last night, and I loved it.  It captures a based-on-real-events drama that, in the director’s words, “is so contemporary, it’s really a story that could only happen today.”

bling-ring group shot

I thought it was both funny and a sad a cultural condemnation, but only because it so brazenly exposed the obsession with superficial values that most of us are implicit in encouraging.   .

What I loved most were the insights through the little things; details like ringleader Rebecca wobbling in her heels when she’s walking away from casually robbing unlocked cars on the street.  And the collage of celebrity pictures cut from magazines that were plastered all over a wall in her room.

I did think it was a little strange (or maybe sad is a better word) that the kids kept referring to gossip blog dlisted.com to find out when celebrities were out of town; I mean, I find it sad that they could be avid readers of dlisted.com, which is written with a very snarky tone towards celebrities, continually mocking them, and not have that attitude alter their idolization of the stars.  Are they just too dumb to realize it’s negative attention, or do they crave and envy the attention to so much they don’t care?  I suspect it’s some of both.  After all, their idol Paris Hilton’s house is decorated seemingly entirely with pictures of herself.  And when they go out clubbing, they seemed only interested in posing for selfie after selfie.  I wish I had been keeping a tally of how many pictures they took of themselves.

Nicki complains that Marc is "stressing me out" when he's worried about security footage of their exploits being on the news.

Nicki complains that Marc is “stressing me out” when he’s worried about security footage of their exploits being on the news.  Because none of them seem capable of processing how their actions might affect anyone else or their own futures, and nothing is more important in this moment than that Nicki not feel the burden of stress.

I laughed at lot throughout the movie, mainly at vapid or unbelievably self-centered dialogue from Emma Watson’s character Nicki.  The actress has talked about how she prepared for the accent partly by watching hours of reality television, and I noticed an awful lot of vocal fry in her lines, which is totally on-point.  I thought she pretty much nailed the accent, except in some of the scenes when she was speaking very quietly her natural accent peeked through a little bit.  Like when her mom asks if she got a new dress at the dinner table and she makes up an answer to cover for the fact that it’s stolen, she drops the -r in “my manager”.  But overall she was very good.  My favorite lines by her included “Your butt looks awesome,” “Let’s go to Paris’s, I wanna rob,” “You’re stressing me out”, and everything in her statement to the press outside the courtroom (“I wanna lead a country one day for all I know”) and in her Vanity Fair interview scene, (“Mom!  Shut up! It’s MY interview!”)

 

But despite all that laughter, I also found much of the film to be incredibly sad, like Marc confessing his constant worry that he wasn’t attractive enough to be liked.  “I know I’m not ugly but I never saw myself as an A-list-looking guy.”  I just wanted to tell him “oh, honey, almost nobody has genes that good, don’t make that the standard you compare yourself to!”  It’s the same heartache from chasing unattainable body-image standards that so many young girls feel trying to look like the photoshopped-into-impossibilities images in magazines.

And in the scene where they break into Lindsey Lohan’s house, and the camera lingers on Rebecca spritzing herself with LiLo’s perfume and admiring herself in the star’s mirror while her eyes fill with tears and Marc’s voice-over states that this was her highlight, all I could think was how utterly sad and pathetic it was that the moment that made her happiest was pretending to be somebody else.  She was an amoral, selfish a-hole, but I still felt bad for her, the emptiness of her dreams, and the futility of trying to adopt an identity that isn’t yours instead of just accepting and being yourself, in that moment.

The scene where Sam flippantly handles the gun that they find under Brian Austin Green and Megan Fox’s bed made me incredibly uncomfortable, because she seems to have absolutely no concept of how dangerous it is, that the instrument she’s holding could permanently maim her friends with the slightest slip, or even kill them.  And she just thinks the fact that Marc is bothered with this realization is funny.  It’s a pretty perfect metaphor for the reckless behavior the Bling Ring kids exhibit throughout the film, with no thought to the possibility of consequences.

And I love that the last shot is a fresh-from-truncated-jail-sentence Nicki, on a talk show, looking straight at the camera and shamelessly self-promoting her website.  She has apparently learned nothing.  But hopefully the audience has.

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Man of Steel Movie Reaction

*Spoilers Ahead, Obviously*

Things I Liked:

First of all Henry Cavill is so hot, amirite?  Like, so hot that he’s literally on fire within seconds of appearing on screen. And then later when his mom says “You’re beautiful.  We saw that the moment we laid eyes on you,” I was like “yeah you are, and yeah we did!”  And at the very end, when puts those glasses on, and smiles at Lois’s “Welcome to the Planet,” he’s literally almost too adorable to stand looking at.  I can’t find a picture of that scene online yet, but if you’re reading this you probably already saw the movie and you know what I’m talking about.  (Is this a good time to remind everyone that I have a giant Henry Cavill poster from Immortals in my bathroom?)

This boy is on fire.

This boy is on fire.

Amy Adams’ portrayal of Lois Lane was a lot less annoying than the pushy version in the old films, yet still very much retained that assertive-journalist-who’s-not-giving-up on-a-lead vibe.  I liked her.

I loved dream-state confrontation between Zod and Superman, when they were at the Kent farm (but not really) and the world-building machine was over the field, and Superman suddenly went from wearing a t-shirt to his suit, and sank into a pile of skulls.  The visuals felt very much like something out of the pages of a comic book.

The music was very good, and I’m almost willing to say they’ve recovered from that initial trailer music mishap where they played Gandalf’s death song from The Lord of the Rings.  But whyyyyyy is the Man of Steel soundtrack so expensive?  I couldn’t afford to buy the whole thing, so I had to choose a couple favorite songs, and I’m not done pouting about the fact that I don’t have the complete soundtrack.

As I’ve already blogged, I loved all the Kansas shout-outs.

Because I am a huge Battlestar Galactica fan, I was delighted to spot both Alessandro Juliana (Gaeta) and Tahmoh Penikett (Helo) in small speaking roles.  Alessandro was one of the military guys, and Tahmoh was one of the leads that Lois questioned to get to Clark.

I loved when he first figured out how to really fly, and then accidentally crashed into a mountain.  The joyous tone of that “I can fly!” scene reminded me of one of the best parts of John Carter, when the title character figures out how to take giant leaps in the low gravity without falling on his face.  It’s a similar “this is awesome, and fun!” feeling.

It was a tiny moment, but I loved it when the fellow fish-boat worker “saved” Clark from a falling trap, because I thought it was showing a teeny example of how living among humans had fostered his empathy and sense of justice and responsibility: if you see someone in trouble or in danger, you help them.

This is not a like or a dislike, just a curiosity: who came up with the clunky, unimaginative name “world-engine,” and how can I get a list of translations of Zod’s line “Release the world-engine!” when it gets dubbed into other languages?  Because I bet there would be some funny ones.

Also, this part.

Things I Didn’t Like:

Was it really necessary to spend so much time on Krypton at the beginning?  We get it: he’s not from this world.  I would have preferred to see more of Clark’s formative years rather than getting them piecemeal through flashbacks the way we did, which maybe there would have been time for if we hadn’t had all that Kryptonian backstory.  “Ooh, Jor-El rides a giant dragonfly/dinosaur creature.”  Well that doesn’t add to Superman’s storyline at all, so who cares?

Also, why add the extra layer of drama with the “ooh, he’s so different and special because all other Kryptonians have their careers predestined, but he’s going to have to choose.”  I mean, it really doesn’t matter what other Kryptonians’ lives were like, because either way Kal-El would still be the only person with superpowers on planet earth, and would still have to choose how he was going to use his powers, whether for good or for evil.  The “first natural birth in centuries!”, not that it would matter how he’s born since we’re sending him to a different planet anyway!

Furthermore, all of Jor-El’s platitudes about choice and leading humanity sounded exciting in the trailers, but within the movie they just fell flat.  There was a lot of vagueness about leading people to exist in a somehow better state, which I guess Kal-El was supposed to inherently know how to do, or maybe it was because he was reading Plato that time he got bullied at the auto shop?  And there was too much talking about how Superman could show humans this better path without any showing the audience what was meant by that, or how he would go about doing it.  I mean obviously humans aren’t going to be able to fly and be bulletproof and have x-ray and laser vision, so I have to assume Jor-El meant that he could instill values of fairness and justice and helping protect the disadvantaged and live peacefully and stuff like that.  Which Superman spent basically zero time doing in this movie.

And Jor-El’s motivations were all over the place, anyway; first it sounds like he wants to rescue his son from the destruction of their planet, but then it’s “I broke hundreds of years of tradition because CHOICE,” (which, isn’t it ironic that Jor-El CHOSE to have a natural son and then said he wanted his son to be able to make choices for his own life because Jor-El couldn’t…like, didn’t you just?), but then when Clark finds the ship and talks to the memory of his father Jor-El wants him to lead humanity to a better future, but then later he says he wants him to be a bridge between two worlds, but then it’s revealed that he secretly all along wanted him to be  the host of an entire potential world with the DNA of all engineered Kryptonians in his cells?  WTH?!

I agree with everything in Devin Faraci’s post on Badass Digest about the excessive destruction at the end of the movie.  And again, maybe there would have been time for more dramatic development, showing Clark struggle to figure out what the right course of action for his life is, if the whole last third of the movie wasn’t just battles.

I don’t know how I feel about Jonathon Kent’s death…I mean, I guess it was okay, but I wish they would have shown it earlier, so that Clark wandering around like a bum for years and not using his powers at all would make sense.  Like if they would have shown him losing his dad because he respected his wishes not to reveal his powers much earlier, and then showed scenes like the one in the bar where he just silently takes the blows from the drunk and doesn’t fight back, which would have felt more intense if we knew “oh, he’s holding back because if he doesn’t it’s like his dad’s death is meaningless and he should have just saved him”.

And when Clark expresses a wish that his dad could have seen what he became, his mom says something like “oh, he did,” and we flashback to kid-Clark in a red makeshift cape it makes no sense.  Why would he be dressing up like a superhero if there weren’t any superheros yet??  And anyway the cape is not what Jonathan Kent would have been proud to see, it would be seeing Clark save people.  So why not show a flashback to a young Clark helping someone or fighting for justice in some innocuous little incident, and Mr. Kent watching and smiling a half-grin because he knows that his son is on the path to someday fighting for those same values on a global scale?

To sum up, when/if they make a sequel, I would like MORE DRAMATIC CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT, LESS SUPERFLUOUS AND OVER-EXTENDED BATTLE SCENES.  Please and Thank you.

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“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” Reaction

Now that I have seen The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey twice, I feel able to post a reaction.  I never like to offer an official opinion based solely on a midnight showing, because sleep deprivation or distraction from noticing all the book-to-film changes can cast an unjustified negativity over the whole experience that disappears on a second, well-rested viewing.   (Although with this film, I didn’t really have any criticisms from the first viewing except that it did feel more like watching an extended edition than theatrical; I didn’t mind, but I can see how some critics, especially if they’re not Middle Earth nerds, might argue that it’s too long.)  My second viewing was in IMAX 3D with the high frame rate–I wasn’t wearing one of my home-made beards that time, but it was still an epic experience.

TheHobbit_1024x768_desktop-wallpaper

Although the 48 frames-per-second medium has been getting mixed reviews, I personally thought it was fantastic.  Some critics reported that it looked “too real” or that sets looked fake in the sharp, very clear picture.  I just don’t understand this perspective.  One reviewer said,

“Constructed interiors look much like they do in any of The Hobbit production diaries – like sets. Bilbo’s home has gone from a comfortable and homely Hobbit hole to something quite plasticky, and Rivendell suffers the same fate. In a quest to make his world more real, Jackson has inadvertently drawn our attention to its artifice.”

and

“When The Hobbit looks bad, it looks really bad, chiefly during action sequences where CG creatures are featured against non-CG backdrops. One scene stands out in particular, where a group of CG wargs (giant wolf-like creatures) chase our group of non-CG heroes across a grassy plain. The wargs look like CG wargs, while the dwarves look like Richard Armitage et al running around a….well, a grassy plain.”

I wonder if those criticisms aren’t really more of an audience problem than a flaw in the film itself.  For one thing, I completely disagree about the sets looking fake or “plasticky”, and I’d be very curious to see what this person’s reaction would be if they got the chance to visit the actual Bag End set, because I know they really built an actual Hobbit hole residence that Peter Jackson loved enough to keep and turn into a guest house.  So I’m not sure how, in this case, seeing the incredible detail and craftsmanship that went into that construction, as clearly as if you were there, makes the experience…worse?  I mean if the makeup or costumes or backgrounds were actually sloppy or of inferior quality then yes, seeing the clearer picture in a high frame rate might be a disadvantage, but that’s simply not the case here.  I think it’s wonderful that you can really see and appreciate a lot of those tiny details of painstaking work that you otherwise might not notice.  And as for the comment that you can tell the wargs are CGI, and the dwarves look like actors running around grass, I think that is an indication that this critic is incapable of suspending their disbelief, and maybe doesn’t exercise their imagination very much.  Of course you can tell that the wargs are CGI!  I can tell that Shelob is also CGI in The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, but that doesn’t stop her from scaring the crap out of me every time I watch it.  CGI is getting better all the time; it can be crap in some films, but I don’t think that’s the case here.  The trolls, goblins, and Gollum are all excellent.  Maybe the wargs look a bit less realistic, but not enough to distract me from the story.  And I can’t comprehend what this statement that they look like they’re running around “…well, a grassy plain” is supposed to mean.  How is that not totally perfect?  Have these critics never walked around with their iPod playing the Lord of the Rings soundtrack and imagining they’re running across Middle Earth on some epic quest?  Have they never looked at a patch of grass or a group of trees and pictured themselves in the movies’ setting?  What exactly is not good enough for them about these shots where there’s no highway in the background, no train whistles or neighbor’s dogs, no buildings, all of which my imagination is able to block out or transform when I’m walking down the street, if I want to temporarily be an elf?  Basically, I don’t get the people who don’t get 48 fps.  It’s like they expect the movie to do everything for them, and at the same time they don’t want it to do too much.

One of the things I loved about this adaptation, that I hadn’t known I was missing, was the perspective that the dwarves are in a diaspora.  It certainly lends more purpose and heart to their quest, and it’s easier to root for them this way than if they were just going after gold.  And it’s not really an addition, it’s completely justifiable from the text, I just hadn’t ever thought of it that way before.  I absolutely loved the exchange between Bofur and Bilbo, when the hobbit is considering leaving the company because he doesn’t feel like he’s useful or one of them, and he says, “You’re used to this life…never settling in one place, not belonging anywhere.  I’m sorry…” and Bofur just sadly agrees, “No, you’re right.  We don’t belong anywhere,” and wishes him well.  (Also, Bofur’s hat is the same style as Radagast’s, which makes me think it’s not inherently dwarf-style, but Bofur just picked it up somewhere in his wanderings.)  Bilbo’s later declaration that he’s sticking with the dwarves because, “[Bag End]’s where I belong.  That’s home.  You don’t have one.  It was taken from you.  And I will help you take it back if I can,” is a better explicit motivation than inner monologues of “something Tookish woke up inside him,” or “he suddenly felt he would go without bed and breakfast to be thought fierce,” such as we see in the book.

blunt the knives end

I did love the “Blunt the Knives” song sequence, when the dwarves are tossing dishes around, much to Bilbo’s dismay.  In light of the dwarf diaspora perspective, this joyful pastime seems almost sad in a way, like it’s an improvised way to keep a part of their culture alive.  They once mined jewels and pounded silver and gold and mithril into extraordinary creations with rhythmic hammerings, but they don’t have mines anymore.  They don’t have any of that anymore.  They have dishes, forks and knives and feet.  So they stamp them and clash them together, they use whatever they have to keep that rhythmic group effort piece of their culture alive, to link themselves to their proud heritage and to maintain a collective identity even though they are scattered, and in the words of Balin, reduced to “Merchants, miners, tinkers, toymakers.  Hardly the stuff of legend.”  Thorin’s response was one of my favorite lines in the film:

“I would take each and every one of these dwarves over an army from the Iron Hills.  For when I called upon them they answered.  Loyalty, honor, a willing heart–I can ask no more than that.”

Martin Freeman as Bilbo Baggins was PERFECT.  In every scene.  There’s no other word for that performance; it was perfect.

Am I the only one who automatically, silently quoted The Lord of the Rings movies during the scene when the dwarves narrowly escape the wargs in the secret passage to Rivendell?  When Gandalf shouted, “This way, you fools!” I couldn’t help but think, “Fly, you fools!”  (And by the way, I’m pretty sure that Gandalf shouted for everybody to “RUN!” at least three separate times in this movie.  Oh, Gandalf, you awesome wizard, you sure love bossing people/dwarves/hobbits around!)  And then when the dwarves are in a heap at the bottom of the tunnel they dove into, and the wargs are just outside, and they hear a horn, I can’t help but channel my inner Helm’s Deep Legolas and think, “That is no orc horn!”  Every time.

I read that Peter Jackson cameos as a dwarf running away from Smaug at Erebor, but I’m not sure I caught a glimpse of which one was supposed to be him.

I covet Elrond’s outfits, head to toe.  I want that lovely long straight hair, his silver crown, his beautifully embroidered tunic, and his boots.  Galadriel’s gowns are gorgeous, too.  Galadriel is gorgeous, period.

I didn’t love Radagast.  I mean, I liked him, especially when he was saving the little hedgehog, but it was more like I tolerated his comic-relief “I’m kind of a forgetful pothead” schtick later on.  I probably wouldn’t even be commenting on it except that I had read that Phillipa Boyens thought he would be a fan favorite.  And what are Rastagan (Rastafarian? Rastabad? Radagastan?) Rabbits, and are they really faster than wargs?

One very cool thing towards the end of the credits is a list of names and corresponding languages with the header “Foreign translations of the novel provided by:”  I haven’t been able to find any articles about this, so I’ll have to jot down some of the names the next time I see the movie and look them up individually to be sure, but I think it’s just a list of the people that did the translating work over the years to allow more people to enjoy reading Tolkien’s work.  And if that’s what it is, that’s a terrific show of respect, both for the source material and for the people that have contributed to spreading an adoration for this story, and I love it.

Anyway, now that we’ve seen the first installment, I’m curious whether people’s opinions on splitting the story into three films have changed.  I’m not entirely sure where I stand myself yet; on my first viewing I thought that it did feel a little long, but I’m not sure what I would have cut.  I want to say I’ll wait until all three parts are out to make an official decision, but by then I will have fallen in love with everything that was included and not be willing to make a case for leaving anything out, so I guess my unofficial position is approval.

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Filed under Books, movies

Breaking Dawn part 2: pagelady’s Snarky Recap

*Warning*: I spoil 100% of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn part 2 in this post.  And there’s also a season 4 Vampire Diaries spoiler.

I saw the final installation of the Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 on opening night, and shall recap it here for the internet public eagerly awaiting the answer to the question, “what happens in the final film?”  The short answer is, “hardly anything of consequence!  The conflicts and resolutions are never real or threatening to any of the main characters!  This film isn’t necessary, much like the book it’s based on, which is more like a fan-fiction satisfying, over-extended epilogue than a novel!”.   But if you want the long answer, here goes:

It starts with a literal sunrise over a mountain behind the “Breaking Dawn” title shot, followed by credits, unlike the theory from my part 1 recap that they might jump right back into where the action left off.  But the music for the opening credits sequence is an arrangement of Carter Burwell’s “Bella’s Lullaby” from the first movie, which was also used for the final scenes of part 1 when she was transitioning.  And the credit names are presented in red but then change to white, mimicking the switch from human blood to vampire venom in Bella’s body that was illustrated in the last film, (but also mimicking the spread of snow and frost that’s happening in the background,) then the music swells in exactly the same way (is it actually the same song?) and we see her eyes become red again.  So it’s not a bad transition from part 1, but there will be kind of a big lag in momentum when twihards switch DVDs in their Breaking Dawn parts 1 and 2 marathon viewings.  The best part about the opening credits is that Billy Burke gets 4th billing, after the trio!  Totally deserved, because movie-Charlie is the best.

The first thing Bella hears as a newborn vampire is “Where I Come From” by Passion Pit, which is ironic because I thought vampires were supposed to have superior senses and I can’t decipher the warblings in this song at all.  Maybe only newborn vampires can?  Anyway, the first thing Bella’s newborn vampire eyes see is her beloved Edward Cullen, so long the sole object of her desire, who she can now be with forever.  Wait, no, the first thing she sees is a dust particle.   A whole flock of dust particles, floating in the air!  She’s really fascinated by them. Then she examines her own right hand, on which she’s wearing her engagement ring.  Then she looks up and sees Edward.  Phew!  The suspense was killing me.  I wasn’t sure they were gonna work out now that she’s immortal.  But don’t worry, they stare at and caress each other, and there’s zoom-y sound effects so you know she’s moving at vampire speeds now.

It kind of looks like she’s munching on his hand, but I think he’s supposed to be cupping her face?  He whispers that she’s “so beautiful” and “we’re the same temperature now,” and she makes a weird reaction face to that which will be perfect for when somebody dubs different dialogue over that scene for a youtube clip someday.  She stares at herself in the mirror.  She hugs him, but oops, too hard, vampire strength!  “I love you”s and kisses are exchanged.  I’m so bored already.  Where are the rest of the Cullens?  Why isn’t Bella wondering about them and/or her baby?  Ok now she remembers her baby but Edward says she needs to “get your thirst under control first” before seeing Renesme.  So off they go!

Vampire Bella can see stuff in detailed slo-mo even though she’s running super-fast through the trees.  Things like dew drops on spider webs.  Her hair flies around her face while she zips between trees just looking around; it’s not the greatest CGI.  Her movements are still a little awkward even as vampire.  The plan is to drink some animal blood, but suddenly she smells a nearby (from a vampire’s perspective) rock-climber, who slips and cuts his knee.  Fresh human blood!  She wants it.  She’s scrambling up a cliff-side to get to it, and now she really does look like Edward’s “little spider-monkey!”  Or like something out of a horror movie.  Edward stops her on the mountain before she reaches the climber.  “Urgrgh, I hafta get outta here!” she growls, and I sneak a glance at the hundreds of twi-hards surrounding me and silently agree.  Bella’s not kidding, though, she jumps right off the cliff.  Her free-fall is not quite as badass as Felix Baumgartner’s.  Anyway, she ends up attacking a mountain lion instead.

screenshot of bella diving at mountain lion

Here’s a garden-path sentence for you: BELLA SWAN DIVES INTO THE MOUNTAIN LION. Get it? Because it could be “Bella Swan dives into the mountain lion,” or “Bella swan-dives into the mountain lion.” And either way it’s unexpected that a person would dive into a mountain, so that’s another little syntactic hurdle. (Neurolinguists will get it.)

Bella and Edward return to the Cullen house unscathed.  Remarkably unscathed, in fact.  While I appreciate that Bella can apparently wipe her damn mouth after feeding, (unlike Elena on Vampire Diaries), girl just wrestled a mountain lion and it didn’t claw one tiny rip in her dress.  This might have been a change from the book (where her clothes are ripped to shreds) to keep it PG-13, but isn’t it a little weird that in the movie where Bella is finally a vampire we don’t actually see her drink blood at all?  And they never mention Renesme’s diet at all?  I miss the “ask me the most basic question: what do we eat?” Edward from the first movie.

compairions of bella and elena post-feeding

Fashion face-off: Bella vs. Elena post-feed.

Anyway, you can tell they filmed this at the same time as part 1 because Kristen Stewart is still really thin in the face.  Jake comes out to meet them and says, “You guys really look great together,” which elicits another great facial expression from Bella.  It’s probably supposed to be confusion as to why he’s suddenly cool and not jealous of she and Edward’s relationship, but it’s funnier if you interpret it as annoyance that he’s not totally, wretchedly, unrequitedly in love with her.  “Psh, whatever Jake, your loss.  I bet Mike’s still in love with me!”

This is ripe for captioning.

They go inside so Bella can finally see Renesme.  It’s also the first time the rest of the Cullens have seen newly vampired Bella.  Esme extends a “welcome to the family,” which is pretty RUDE considering Bella became “part of the family” when she married Edward months ago, not to mention that time at the end of New Moon when Esme told her “I already consider you part of the family.”  So, what, she wasn’t really part of the family until she physically matched them?  Good grief, this is a terribly bleak model for intercultural relationships; alter your entire being to match your boyfriend’s family and only then will his mom finally accept you.  She was just being polite before.

Baby Renesme has a full set of teeth at two-days old, and is freakishly CGI’d.  I mean really freaky…the little hand she places on Bella’s check (to project her memory of dying-Bella’s face the moment she was born) is almost translucent.  Is there even a real baby they’re working around here or is it 100% computer generated?  It’s 100% freaky, however they did it.  Bella is amazed and wonders how her daughter can show others what she’s thinking.  “How do I hear thoughts?  How does Alice see the future?  She’s gifted,” brags Edward.

Jake thinks that’s enough experimenting with Renesme’s safety, and Bella is all why-do-you-care?  A nervous Jake stammers, “Look.  It’s a wolf thing…” his voice cracks on “wolf” and it is hilarious.  Jake’s great in this movie, if you can get over the weirdness of the fact that’s he’s, like, in love with a baby.  “Take Renesme out of the room.  Edward, don’t touch me right now, I don’t want to hurt you,” demands Bella.  “Oh…” swallows Jake.  It really is hilarious.  And then Bella totally yells at him about imprinting on her baby, “I’ve held her once, ONE TIME, and already you think you have some sort of moronic wolf-claim on her?” and “YOU NAMED MY BABY AFTER THE LOCH NESS MONSTER?!” (because he nick-named her Nessie), in lines straight from the book.  It’s pretty great, but I don’t think it tops “I. Will. NOT!”, my favorite line from part 1.

Alice takes Edward and Bella to the cottage that the private Cullens set up for them.  “We thought you’d like a place of your own,” she simpers, and the director apparently though the audience would like panoramic shots of all rooms inside as Bella walks through them, so they can accurately re-create them in their basements.  Bella stares at the bed with a catatonic expression.  “Vampires don’t sleep.”  Edward role-plays as Captain Obvious and answers, “It’s not intended for sleep.”  The sex montage is a mixture of fast- and slow-motion making out, to represent vampire speed I guess?  He rips her dress off but all you really see is their faces.  Oh wait, there’s a shot of their naked toes!  And her wedding-ringed finger stroking his bare chest.  Because, remember, they’re MARRIED so it’s okay if they do it.  Also, a vase in the foreground with some sort of dried plant in it is hiding their naughty bits from the camera.

Back at the Cullen house, they’re ignoring another call from a concerned Charlie.  Emmet and Carlisle mention that they’ll need to tell him Bella died, and leave town for a few decades.  Jake is not okay with that, so he zips over to Charlie’s.  His underwear peeking out of the top of his jeans while he rides his motorcycle is the most risque we’ve seen from him so far in this film, but don’t worry Team Jacob-ites!  He’s about to walk up to Charlie and start stripping, saying he has to show him something.  It’s hilarious.  Charlie delivers a terrifically quotable line that I will use next time I re-watch New Moon; “Jacob, put your clothes on,” and in response Jake drops his pants.  Then he phases into wolf-form.  Charlie, as always, totally kills it in this scene.

Edward and Bella are pissed that Jacob let Charlie in on the supernatural without consulting them.  He tries to defend it with “I know you’ll be much happier with him in your life,” but Edward bitch-slaps back with “Don’t try to pretend you’re doing this for anyone but yourself.”  But there’s no more time to argue, because Charlie’s on his way over.  The Cullens give Bella a crash-course in acting human, which might have been funnier if the clip hadn’t already circulated saturated the web along with all the other promotional footage.  The best part of that scene was Bella surmising, “Ok, I got it.  Move around, blink, slouch,” which would also describe Kristen Stewart’s acting approach, except she left out “pull hair, bite lip.”

Charlie arrives and everybody leaves the room to give he and Bella a chance for an awkward back-and-forth, with his position “I wanna know what happened to you,” and hers “I can’t tell you.”  Bella keeps asking that he just trust her, and I keep wondering what she expects him to base his trust on; she does have a habit of running off to gallivant around the world in vampire-related adventures and then lie to him about it afterwards.  But Charlie gives up and agrees to be kept in the dark, and as a reward he gets to meet creepy CGI baby Renesme.  He’s appropriately weirded out.

charlie hugging bella pic

I LOVE YOU, MOVIE-CHARLIE!

After Charlie leaves, Emmet and Bella have their infamous arm-wrestling battle, which she easily wins as The Antidote by St. Vincent plays in the background.  Bella’s enjoying her newborn super-strength, but is suddenly distracted by a sunbeam and runs over to sparkle in it while she narrates a transitional voice-over:

My time as a human is over, but I never felt more alive.  I was born to be a vampire.  Everything was falling into place.  Even the Volturi seemed to accept my status, though they’d want proof eventually…Renesme was growing too fast.  We all worried about how much time we’d have with her.”

During that last bit we got  quick montage of fast-growing Renesme being measured several times by Carlisle.  (She’s kind of pouting because in the book she doesn’t like the twice-daily check-ups, in case you wondered why she looks so sullen.)  I’m just glad we’re past the creepy CGI baby part.  Now-adorable Renesme is out playing in the snow with Bella and Jake, (not hunting for animal blood like they do in the book because this movie doesn’t really want to deal with that whole blood-drinking thing when it comes to the protagonists).  She jumps/flies straight up into the air to catch a snowflake.  A few miles away, Irina (vampire friend from the Denali clan) sees this, and runs off before Bella can reach her to say hello.  Back at the Cullen house, Edward assumes “seeing Jacob [who helped kill her mate in New Moon] must have been too much for her.”

Renesme and Edward are sitting at the piano together!  Are they going to play an adorable father-daughter duet?!  No, too bad, she only plays two notes.  Meanwhile, Irina is tattling to the Volturi that the Cullens have “done something horrible,” and Aro is gleefully excited about the memories he’s seeing as he clutches her hand.  “Oh, my!” he intones over-dramatically.  (Just assume from here on out that every line from Aro is delivered over-dramatically).  Aww, now Renesme is playing a duet with daddy!  But then Aunt Alice ruins it with her stupid vision/vase dropping.

Turns out “Irina thinks [Renesme]’s an immortal child,” which is a child turned into a permanently emotionally and mentally stunted yet physically super-powerful and destructive vampire, which is one of the Volturi’s huge no-no’s for the global vampire population.  Because immortal children were incapable of keeping vampirism a secret, and “entire villages could be destroyed with a single tantrum.”  So now the Volturi are coming to punish the Cullen clan, by destroying them.  Bella is indignant; “Well Renesme is nothing like those children, she was born, not bitten, she grows every single day!”  Typical snob parent thinking her child is better than all the other kids!  Edward thinks “maybe we can convince the Volturi to listen” to their explanation, if they can round up enough vampire witnesses.  They’re all just sitting around in the Cullen house having this discussion to set the action for the rest of the movie, and it’s boring.

Twist, kind of: wolfpack leader Sam brings a note over the next morning from Alice.  She and Jasper have left on an unknown mission, leaving the rest of the Cullens to go questing for friendly vampire witnesses.  Bella voice-overs, “Alice’s instructions were clear, but the question remained; why would they leave us at the moment we needed them most?  What did they know?”  (Other questions that could also remain at this point: Why did Bella pick such a stupid name for her baby?  Was this the only appearance Sam makes in this film? Why do everybody’s wigs change between films so much, and which film is which character’s best hair?  How much longer is this movie?)

Bella, Edward, Jacob, and Renesme drive to visit the Denali clan (minus Irina who is still with the Volturi) in Alaska.  This is potentially confusing for the uninitiated audience member, because we just heard Alice warning that “when the snow sticks to the ground” is when the Volturi will arrive to fight the Cullens, and then the very next thing we see is Edward walking through snow stuck to the ground.  But Alice meant the ground in Forks, so don’t worry, we have a lot of screentime to kill before then.  The Denalis freak out at the sight of Renesme and a mini-fight breaks out.  Edward assures them “She has blood in her veins.  I’m her biological father.”  What a delightfully awkward and creepy way to introduce your offspring to friends for the first time!  Can you imagine Edward sending that out on a birth announcement?

Edward’s awkward birth announcement for Renesme.

To be fair, it’s less awkward than this alternative:

pic of edward holding bloody baby with text "it's a girl! daddy chewed the placenta open!"

Alternative awkward birth announcement for Renesme.

The Denali clan are convinced, partly because Renesme does her mental-projection magic trick thing, even though when Bella explains that “she was born while I was still human,” Eleazar responds in astonishment, “I’ve never heard of such a thing!”  Twilight-universe vampires are really sorely lacking for sex ed.

The Cullens continue collecting vampire allies to “witness” for them against the Volturi’s impending accusations.  These include a four-member Egyptian coven with a young vampire named Benjamin who is a TOTAL RIP-OFF of Aang in Avatar: The Last Airbender, because his “special power” is that he can “influence the elements” of water, earth, air, and fire.  He water-bends to show off, but Katara of the Southern Water Tribe could totally take him.  (Yes, Benjamin has these powers in the book, but ATLA aired before Breaking Dawn was published.  I wonder if Stephenie Meyer’s kids watched it?)  Two jungle-dwelling lady vampires make a dramatic entrance through the forest to the Cullen household, accompanied by screaming birds, so we’re supposed to interpret them as “wild”, but they look more like they stepped off an America’s Next Top Model photo shoot than anything else.

Renesme reaches up to project her mental images to Senna and Zafrina.  Zafrina can totally project images, too, and she doesn’t have to be touching people to do it.

Two creepy, borderline-albino vampires with ridiculous accents show up, (Vladimir and Stefan), and Jake hilariously refers to them later as “Dracula 1 and 2.”  See, Jake’s really funny in this movie!  Somebody also rounds up Lee Pace as Garrett, the only vampire to be shown drinking blood in the whole movie.  I thought that might be to show how much he changes later when he couples up with (Irina’s sister) Kate and adopts her “vegetarian” lifestlye, but then they never really mentioned the diet thing later.  Anyway, Garrett seems to have been a lot of people’s favorite this film, judging by the squee in the twitter/tumblr-verse.  He’s similar to Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer; a British, rock ‘n’ roll badboy who’s actually noble and romantic underneath his cool, leather-jacketed exterior.

Lee Pace as Garrett. Did you know he’s also going to appear in at least one of the upcoming Hobbit films as Thranduil, Legolas’ dad?

Hosting so many red-eyed vampires is “complicated”  for the Cullens because of “their thirst for human blood,” (even though it’s never addressed apart from that one line), and for the wolfpack because “as more vampires set fort in the are, more Quileutes turned, their nature compelling them to protect their home.”  We get to see three Quileute kids just walking along and suddenly, hilariously, they phase into wolves.  Luckily Jake managed to pull himself away from Renesme long enough to happen to be there so he could calm them with, “hey, hey, you’ll be alright,” which seems like it should be Sam’s job, but I guess that delivering that note from Alice really was Sam’s only appearance in human form in this film.

The vampires sit around the Cullen house and talk about how the Volturi aren’t really as concerned about upholding their laws as they are about acquiring the gifted vampires that Aro craves, (future-seeing Alice and mind-reading Edward.)  BLUH, SO MUCH OF THIS PLOT IS MOVED FORWARD BY THEM SITTING AROUND AND TALKING ABOUT IT!  Super boring.  Anyway, Edward gives a mini-Braveheart-esque speech, “Carlisle may not ask you to fight, but  I will.  Not just for my family but for your own lives and the way you want to live them,” and pretty much everybody immediately declares “we will stand with you.”

Meanwhile, the Volturi are making their way to Forks.  Oops, remember how the movies didn’t really distinguish Jane’s brother Alec and his ability to blind people in the earlier films?  Well, he can blind people.  He demonstrates on a Volturi victim; his blinding fog resembles death-eater movie-apparition fog.

Back at the Cullen house, the vampires are STILL SITTING AROUND TALKING, and they realize that Bella is a “shield,” and that’s why most of the other vamp powers (Edward’s mind-reading, Aro’s mind-reading, Jane’s pain projection, Zafrina’s image projection, Kate’s electroshock) don’t work on her.  In a battle against the Volturi, she could “help the rest of us, if you could learn to project it.”  Kate tries motivating her to expand her shield by shocking Edward repeatedly.  His face when Kate says, “alright, this one’s on full power” is pretty funny.  Bella is able to shield him, partially, but enough with the battle preparations, it’s time to balance them out with some family time!

Bella reads her “gifted” daughter a Tennyson poem as a bedtime story, because fairy tales are for dumb mortal children.  (Or for living, if you’re Bella.)  Renesme worries, “Did Aunt Alice and Uncle Jasper run away because we’re gonna die?”  Bella reassures her daughter, “I don’t know.”  (For real, that’s the first thing she says. Gee, thanks, mom, I feel better!)  “I think they left to make us safer.  That’s why all these people are here too.  I’ll never let anyone hurt you,” she continues.  After Renesme is tucked in, horny Edward wants to undress Bella and tell her how amazing she is, because “every obstacle you’d face, I’d think you couldn’t overcome it, and you did.”  He leaves the room to draw a sexy bath for them to share, and Bella uses the alone-time to realize that Alice’s note was written on a page torn from one of Bella’s books.  She gets the book off her shelf and finds a name and address, and burns the book before Edward sees it, reasoning, “Alice made sure I would be the only one to see the note, because only my mind was safe from the Volturi.”

The next day, (no, we didn’t get to see the sexy bathtime scene, you’ll have to read about it in fan fiction), Jake is surprised Bella took a break from her “Jedi-training” to drive him and Renesme to grandpa Charlie’s.  (Another good one, Jake.  You’re on a roll).  She ditches them at Charlie’s, saying she has to run errands.  I’m not sure what she narrated next, but in my notes at this point I wrote “OMG SO MUCH EFFING EXPLANATORY VOICE-OVER NARRATION! It drags,” and the next scene is her meeting with J. Jenks, (the name Alice left).  He’s a shady laywer that provides Bella with fake IDs, from an order placed by Jasper when he and Alice left.  There are two: one for Jake, and one for Renesme.  OH NOES!  Bella is sure that means “Alice’s vision was clear.  Renesme would have a future, but Edward and I wouldn’t be a part of it.”

She goes home and packs an emergency bag for her daughter with the fake IDs, wads of cash, and a note that begins “My dearest Renesme, I thought we would have forever together, but forever isn’t as long as I’d hoped…”  Good lord, Bella, talk about semantic bleaching!  “Forever” isn’t as long as you’d hoped?  Don’t you mean you won’t get to be with her forever?!  “Forever” doesn’t begin and end with your personal existence!  Why is this one concept so deeply fixated into your ideals and aspirations that you insist on using it even when it isn’t appropriate, and the word looses all meaning? I wish I had been keeping track of how many times the word “forever” is mentioned in this movie; I know it’s in all the trailers, (“the epic finale that will live forever!”) and they say it like three more times at the end.  If I watch it again maybe I really will keep track.

To keep Charlie safe, Bella and Edward give him a non-refundable fishing trip for Christmas.  “You two tryin’ to get rid of me?” he asks,  “‘Cuz it’s working!”  I LOVE YOU, MOVIE-CHARLIE!  Jake gives Renesme a friendship bracelet that he braided out of some of his wolf-hair; (no, not really, that was a joke-lie.  It’s just regular craft yarn I think).  She doesn’t really say anything about it.  She doesn’t really say much of anything at all.  She doesn’t have much of a personality.

It’s the night before the battle.  Benjamin, the Aang wanna-be, fire-bends a nice blaze, and most of the vampires sit around reminiscing about historical battles they’re participated in or witnessed, but some of them “just stand there like freaking statues,” (another great line from Jake.  Imprinting totally unlocked his funny side.)

Jake was so funny, he deserves his own picture in this post.

Edward confesses to Carlisle, “I can’t help thinking that I put all these people in danger because I fell in love with a human.”  Carlisle dismisses his concern, saying, “You found your mate.  You deserve to be happy.”  “But at what cost?” wonders Edward.  But don’t worry, it’s not a question that’s going to be seriously considered.  The lesson here is that you should always base decisions off your emotions and hormones, go ahead and stalk that girl by sneaking into her room unknown to her every night!  Because your personal “happiness” should be pursued by all means, with no thought for how it affects other people.  Don’t worry about spending your time and energy making the world or other people’s lives better!  Just focus on what makes you happy.  Because you “deserve” it.  (And if you’re a girl, just focus on waiting for a perfect guy to come make you happy.)  Lovely.  I’m so glad these movies are so popular with impressionable teenagers!  ***SARCASM***

ZOMG, you guys, it’s that same swooping shot of the trees and the mountains that we got in like every Twilight preview ever.  But this time it’s covered in snow!  That means the Volturi are coming!  Or, as Garrett puts it, “the Redcoats are coming!”  (That’s why he’s a fan favorite.  That, and the fact that as the vampires line up for battle he tells Kate, “If we live through this, I’ll follow you anywhere,” to which she snorts “Now you tell me.”)  The Volturi march out of the woods wearing matching black cloaks with red linings.  Aro is “looking for Alice,” according to mind-reading Edward.  The wolves step out of the woods on the other side of the clearing, and the Volturi pause to remove their hoods in a synchronized movement accompanied by a massive crescendo in the soundtrack.  This is so over-dramatic, it’s ridiculous.

Carlisle tries to explain that Renesme “is not an immortal!  See the blood in her cheeks!”, but Caius scorns that it must be “AHHtifis!” (“Artifice.”  Totally going to try to fit that quote, exactly the way he spits it out, into conversation).  Aro is willing to believe, especially after touching Edward and reading his thoughts.  He’d like to meet Renesme, so Bella (along with Jake and Emmet) bring her up to him.  “Ahhhhh, yaung Beeelllllaaaah,” he croons, “Immortality becomes you.  Ha, hahaHAAAA-ha!  I hear her strange heart!”  (Remember what I said about all of Aro’s lines being over-dramatic?)  Renesme touches Aro’s face, but we’re ripped off and don’t get to see what she projects to him.  He’s satisfied that she isn’t an immortal child, but still wants to incite a battle so he can force Edward to join his coven, so he has Irina killed for bearing false testimony.  Her sisters try to rush to retaliate but are held back by their allies.  (Garrett’s clutching Kate, and she’s shocking him but he doesn’t let go.  It’s another fan-favorite moment.)

Jane does her pain thing to Edward and a pissed-off Bella is suddenly able to explode her shield around every on her side.  It kind of looks like a giant soap bubble and is accompanied by a musical tinkling.  Aro admits there has been no vampire law broken, “but does it then follow that there is no danger?”  He says Renesme is an unknown and therefore an intolerable risk to keeping the existence of vampires secret.

Just then, Alice walks in.  “I have evidence the child won’t be a risk to our kind.  Let me show you,” she says.  Aro greedily touches her future-seeing hand.  Jasper gets bitch-slapped by the goons holding him.  Alice cries, “It doesn’t matter what I show you!  Even when you see, you still won’t change your decision!”  She turns and signals “now” to Bella, who puts Renesme on Jake’s wolf-back and tells them to run.  Tiny Alice kicks Aro in the chin, which propels him 20 feet backward into the air, but then she’s grabbed by more Volturi goons.  Carlisle runs up all “let her go!” and is killed.  Everyone’s running at each other, fighting.  Alec and Jane figure out that Bella is shielding everyone from their powers, so Alec tackles her.  Somebody beheads Jasper.  Somebody else is chasing Jake and Renesme.  Jane mental-projection-pains a wolf to death.  (His CGI fur deflates, that’s how you know he’s dead.  Was it Seth?).  It feels like this battle has been going for a very long time.

Benjamin punches the ground and earth-bends a chasm into it.  You can see lava at the bottom, and lots of Volturi vamps are falling in.  But, oh no!  Esme is scrambling to hold onto one of the ledges, and a Volturi on her back is pulling her down!  A silver wolf (Leah?) jumps and claws the Volturi off Esme’s back, but in doing so the wolf falls into the pit and dies.  Edward falls into the chasm, too, but I think Benjamin earth-bends a rock to flip him back out?  Alice is pissed and running at Jane, shielded from Jane’s pain powers by Bella.  Alice grabs Jane by the throat while a wolf rips the tiny pain-inflicting Volturi’s head off.

The battle is STILL going.  Kate electro-shocks Caius and rips his face off.  Dracula 1 and 2 rip Marcus’ arms off.  Aro is just standing there observing, looking mad.  He punches Bella and she flies through the air; now it’s Edward and Bella vs. Aro.  They do the swing-kick thing from the preview, then Edward holds Aro’s body down so Bella can rip his head off.  (How many times did I just type “rip his/her head off?)  She holds out a torch to burn his body and the flames fill the screen.

AAAAAANNNNND, yeah, that was all just a vision from Alice projected into Aro’s head.  None of it was real.  I thought it was obvious that it wasn’t real, because how could it be?  In the book there is no battle.  I assumed they’d add some fighting for dramatic effect, but I predicted they would do it exactly the way they did, with a vision of the potential future from Alice, (what other way was there to have a fight break out with the Volturi without any of the main characters actually being hurt or killed, which is against the rules of the Twilight universe?) so…I was more annoyed and bored during the interminable (seriously it was like 20 minutes) battle scene.  But the audience “AAAAAAAAHHHHHHH”ed like they were totally fooled.  Maybe my theater was full of movie fans who hadn’t read the books.  Or maybe I’ve just become overly cynical when it comes to the Twilight franchise, at this point.

My favorite response that I’ve seen so far the the fake-out fight scene at the end.

In any case, Alice warns Aro that he’s just seen his future if he chooses to fight them today, and to top off her strategic argument, two newcomers she recruited enter stage left at just that moment, Huilen and her nephew Nahuel.  Nahuel explains, “I am half-human, half-vampire.  Like the child.”  (He’s also less than half-clothed).  Nahuel is 150 years old and says he was full-grown 7 years after his birth, and can survive on both human food and blood.  And that right there was the only reference to the fact that dear, sweet, adorable, (when she’s not a CGI baby) Renesme drinks blood, too.   Also, Nahuel’s testimony contradicts all the fervent claims earlier that Renesme “is NOT an immortal!”, because she is apparently going to have the capacity to live forever just like the vampires.  I’m sure the spirit of their argument was that she wasn’t an immortal child, but in the wake of the egregious misuse of “forever” I’m hyper-sensitive to the semantics in this movie.

Caius still wants to fight, because after all the Cullens are consorting with these wolves, but Aro is all, nope!  Shut it down, I don’t want to die today!  So the Volturi leave, with Aro glancing back longingly at Bella and Alice and sighing “such a prize,” (just to leave that threat hanging in case they want to make more movies someday.)  Dracula 1 and 2 try to put a damper on everybody else’s celebrations by pointing out “You’re all fools!  The Volturi might be gone, but they will never forgive what happened here!”, but this is a Twilight movie so everybody ignores them and starts making out.  It sounds like “Fire and Water” by Feist is playing in the background here, but I’m not sure.

Anyway, hardly any of the earlier plot points ended up mattering.  If Alice was just going to convince Aro not to fight by showing him a vision, (in which, by the way, Bella and Edward do survive), why was it necessary to make Bella think there was no hope, and smuggle Renesme out with Jake and a fake ID, and keep all of this hidden from Edward’s mind so Aro couldn’t see it either?  Especially since, when Aro touches Alice’s hand to see the vision he would also see all of her past thoughts, including all of her scheming to keep Edward in the dark about Bella’s plans, and the fact the Huilen and Nahuel were about to arrive.  In the book, it all has to be a secret until the last second because it’s the only way to persuade Aro not to fight.  It’s certainly easier to explain to the audience this way why Aro is convinced to back off, and it’s more exciting to watch, but there was no need for secrecy on Alice’s part if this was how it was going to end up.  What is the point of a story where no real threats to main characters exist, and no real consequences to actions or decisions materialize?  I guess it really is a fairy tale.

And in keeping with the fairy-tale theme, we see an Alice-predicted happy future vision for grown-up Renesme and Jacob, embracing on a beach.  (Is it La Push?)  Edward begrudgingly admits, “I’m glad she has you.”  Jake manages to get one last zinger in, with “So, should I start calling you Dad?”  “No,” says Edward, and the audience giggles, but, that’s the reality of the situation and it is pretty weird, right?  That Edward and Bella will be Jacob’s mother- and father-in-law?  At least this movie knows how to laugh at itself.

Bella totally reverts to sloppy-human style after the Volturi threat is lifted. When I first saw this picture I thought it was a behind-the-scenes look at a rehearsal or something. But this is actually a still from the finished product…it’s just an inconsistent look with Bella’s vampire-style the rest of the movie.

As for Bella and Edward’s private fairy-tale ending, (because you know that was always where this story was headed, and the sole purpose for everything in the universe, didn’t you know), they’re in their meadow, of course.  And she’s like, “I want to show you something,” and reverse-projects her shield, so that for the first time ever, Edward can read her mind.  She flashes through memories from the previous films while “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri plays; meeting him in Biology class when he almost barfed at the smell of her blood, their first kiss when he had snuck uninvited into her room yet again, when they danced at Prom because he forced her to go, when he dumped her and left town and she stared catatonic out the window for months, when she almost drowns and hallucinates that she sees him, (why are those last two included in her romantic highlights reel?),  when she saves him from exposing his sparkly lop-sided nipples in Italy, their wedding, their honeymoon when they didn’t use protection and accidentally made a hybrid baby, and finally a memory of their vampire sex.

Then there’s some more mushy back-and-forth about how “nobody’s ever loved anybody as much as I love you,” (Bella to Edward), “there’s one exception,” (Edward to Bella), *kisses* between them and *eye-rolls* between me and myself.  “Can you show me again?” asks Edward, and Bella laughs, “We’ve got a lot of time!”

“Forever?”

“Forever.”

Then they kiss, again, and the last page of the book floats up on the screen with the last line highlighted, “And then we continue blissfully into this small but perfect piece of our forever.”  (Did I not tell you there were at least three more “forevers” before the end?)

HALLELUJAH, it’s finally time for the credits!  Black and white images of the cast members in costume appear, starting with the most obscure vampires that were barely or not-at-all named.  Suddenly I’m seeing wolf-pack members that I don’t remember seeing in human form in this film, like Quill and Embry, and it becomes apparent that they’re playing retrospective credits for the entire franchise.  For instance, there’s “the humans” Mike, Jessica, Angela, and Eric.  Oh, awkward, both Rachelle Lefevre and Bryce Dallas Howard are credited as Victoria in back-to-back pictures…and Billy Burke gets fourth billing again, appearing right before the big three!  Way to go, movie-Charlie.  You were perfect all the way through.

The songs playing during the credits are “The Forgotten” by Green Day, then “Bittersweet” by Ellie Goulding, and lastly, (so I read, but I didn’t stay that long,) “All I’ve Ever Needed” by Nikki Reed and Paul McDonald.

All I can say at this point is, I’m glad the series is over, because I don’t know if I could have sat through another one of these movies.  I think this one took the most liberties with the source material and poked the most fun at itself out of all the Twilight movies, but it’s still predominately a bloodless “vampire” fantasy with an idealized love story so unrealistic and over-the-top it’s almost meaningless.  And I really don’t think this story is going to “live forever.”

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