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Entries in Robert Pattinson (3)

Friday
Nov182011

Breaking Dawn Part 1

The Twilight series is as perplexing a series that has ever come out, not thematically or narratively, but in its popularity. Grown adults, people who should have had the life experience to realize how ridiculous the franchise’s portrayals of love are, flock to the theater with each outing and debate over whether Bella (Kristen Stewart) should end up with Edward (Robert Pattinson) or Jacob (Taylor Lautner). To eavesdrop on one of those debates is simultaneously amusing and sad. One can’t help but laugh at such a trivial conversation, but great romances with true-to-life takes on love are released every year and most are ignored by the general public, yet this tripe rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars. In a society where love is commercialized, I suppose it’s not surprising. We’ve bastardized it, packaged it up and sold it not to the highest bidder, but the youngest, and it has gotten to the point where children are beginning to feel insignificant without the perfect mate by their side; a dangerous notion. It’s fitting then that a movie that begins with talk of putting away childish things would have such a childish outlook on love.

Bella has agreed to marry Edward. As the movie begins, the wedding is approaching. Jacob is none too happy, but he is trying to cope with the news regardless. Though seemingly hesitant, the two follow through on their commitment and while on their honeymoon on a remote island off the shore of Rio de Janeiro, Edward impregnates Bella. Because it’s not a normal human child, she immediately begins showing signs of pregnancy, but she can’t nourish it or herself. It begins to kill her. Back home, they are stuck in Edward’s house with his family. The alpha male in Jacob’s group has learned of Bella’s pregnancy and plans on killing her and the vampire baby, but Jacob refuses to let Bella die and reluctantly joins forces with Edward to protect her.

As one reviewer in the UK suggested, Breaking Dawn Part 1 delivers on the drama and emotional highs we’ve come to expect from the series. In a sense, he’s right, if by drama he means melodrama and the emotion he’s talking about is laughter. With a human/vampire/werewolf love triangle, a half human-half vampire baby and a plot turn that can only be described as bestiality mixed with pedophilia, this is nothing more than a freak show narrative and one can’t help but laugh it. The movie takes itself so seriously, but the soapy acting and stone cold delivery of overly simplistic dialogue is contradictory to its desired tone, managing to provide more laughs a minute than any comedy to be released this year.

In a way, it’s almost kind of enjoyable—laughing is always fun—and those laughs are heightened by downright terrible acting from everyone involved. Pattinson, through movies like Remember Me and Water for Elephants, has proven that he has acting chops, but a performance is only as good as its material and he has nothing to work with here. Lautner, on the other hand, has never proven himself and only strengthens the argument that he’s one of the worst actors working today. He has a pretty face, tight abs, a gorgeous smile and close to no talent. In September’s incompetent thriller, Abduction, he walked into scenes so awkwardly, it looked like he was in the middle of a battle with a particularly itchy hemorrhoid. The same can be said here.

Watching Breaking Dawn Part 1 is like a reminder of what it was like back in grade school. It only alludes to difficult subject matters (despite an explicit romance scene), treating sex the same way a 12 year old boy treats a dirty word, as if the utterance of the word would make the romantically immature characters snicker. It wants to be grown up, but it’s too embarrassed to even say “sex,” much less explore it in a thoughtful manner. This is a movie that literally has nothing going for it and its abrupt ending brought on by the story being split into two parts, similar to the way the last Harry Potter films were handled, only adds to the frustration. Just like Harry Potter, this doesn’t provide a climax, but the difference is that Harry Potter gave us something to care about and look forward to. The ending of Breaking Dawn Part 1 serves only as a depressing reminder that a Part 2 is on the way.

Breaking Dawn Part 1 receives 0/5

Friday
Apr222011

Water for Elephants

Water for Elephants begins like so many romances do. An old timer (this time a man) recounts his younger days when he met and fell in love with the love of his life. He tells his story to an overly eager personality who hangs on every word he says and is kind enough to spare a few hours of his life to listen. It’s not a bad beginning (despite unnecessary expositional dialogue that essentially spoils the ending, leaving no question as to whether it will end in happiness or tragedy), but it is starting to feel overused. All it does is remind us that we’ve seen this all before in other superior films (like Titanic, for instance). Water for Elephants is not great, but few movies are. At least this one is still worth seeing (barely).

The old timer in question is named Jacob (Hal Holbrook), who has more or less run away from his nursing home and is looking for a position at a circus that is traveling through his town. When he gets there, he spots a picture of the girl he fell in love with, Marlena (Reese Witherspoon), and begins to reminisce about his days as a young chap (younger version played by Robert Pattinson). He was a Cornell student and on the verge of graduating when his parents were suddenly killed in a car crash. Because of certain circumstances, he lost everything and before he knew it, he was walking the lonely railroad tracks. After some time, a train passed and he jumped aboard, quickly realizing he just jumped on the traveling Benzini Bros. Circus train. Thanks to his studies in veterinary sciences, he was hired by the owner, August (Christoph Waltz), as the animal doctor. It was on this journey that he met and became smitten with Marlena, the owner’s wife.

And the owner is not the friendly type. I guess. August is made to be the obligatory bad guy, but it feels forced. He’s the type of guy who threatens punishment if Jacob doesn’t follow his orders, but then approves of the contradictory choices Jacob makes. He certainly has a mean side to him, but he’s actually kind of charming at times. His character flips personalities so much you don’t know how to receive him: as the hardnosed, no nonsense, my-way-or-the-highway boss man or a generally pleasant guy with an anger issue. By the end, the answer is clear, but it’s a poor juggling act up to that point and it made me care little about what was happening one way or the other.

This lack of caring carries over to the romance, which is incredibly underdeveloped, to the point of wondering what the point was of making the movie. To go into why the romance is left only half finished would constitute spoilers, so I’ll refrain, but what happens near the end doesn’t feel wholly earned. Part of this, however, may be due to the two leads, who simply do not look good together. The 10+ year age difference between the two  is distracting and makes it feel like Witherspoon and Pattinson were put together because of their names rather than because of their chemistry (which is non-existent).

Considering the ridiculous ending that works the absurdity on a number of levels, I find myself questioning why I’m recommending Water for Elephants. The answer is easy: the art direction and performances are fantastic. This is a great movie to watch, even though the story is not a great one to experience. As easy as it is to dismiss Robert Pattinson based on his poor choice of roles in movies like Twilight and Remember Me, it would be doing a disservice to his abilities as an actor. He and Witherspoon may have failed to create a romantic spark, but that’s more a problem of the casting director and is not indicative of how good they can be when separated. Similarly, Christoph Waltz delivers a knock-out performance in spite of his character’s poor narrative evolution, proving that his Oscar winning performance in Inglourious Basterds was not a fluke.

The more I think about it, the more I want to say Water for Elephants is not a good movie, but it is, just less so than I originally thought (much less so). It doesn’t work as a romance, but it works in other ways. So even though you aren’t getting the moving love story you hoped for, you’re still seeing a visually spectacular treat. It’s probably going to work more for nerds (like me) who care about that sort of thing. Those who don’t will likely find themselves staring at their watches wondering when this overlong bore will end. To those people, I say skip it. You know who you are.

Water for Elephants receives 2.5/5

Wednesday
Jun302010

Eclipse

It’s safe to say that The Twilight Saga has become a cultural phenomenon. The film series has emerged as one of the most successful ever created, breaking box office records and garnering a massive amount of fans in the process. Too bad popularity doesn’t define quality. The third installment in the franchise, Eclipse, is easily the best. With that said, it’s still not good.

The movie begins where New Moon left off. The love triangle between human Bella (Kristen Stewart), vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner) rages on. Bella and Edward are in love and she desires to be changed into a vampire, but Edward refuses unless one condition is met: she must marry him. Otherwise, he wants her to remain human and keep her soul intact. Jacob also loves her and has a feeling she loves him back, but won’t admit it. He and his kind are also in a feud with Edward and his family, each thinking the other one is dangerous, but when Bella’s life is put on the line, they bond together to protect her despite their conflicting emotions.

I’ll say this for Eclipse. It tries. Due to Edward and Bella being separated throughout the majority of the film, New Moon was too overcome with its annoying teenage angst and lustful brooding to say anything relevant. Here they are together and seemingly happy. She wants to be changed into a vampire, but is trying to cope with the idea of losing her family. She is weighing the value of love and what type of consequences she will face should she get her wish. The movie asks how important love is and how far you’ll go to be with someone else.

Or at least it would like to think so. Eclipse wants to be more adult, but it’s weighed down by a script with dialogue that feels like it was written by a high school girl who thinks she knows what love is, but really doesn’t. While New Moon felt like an overemotional soap opera, Eclipse is more like a teen drama that correlates love with cheesy idyllic descriptions that seem to be ripped from the diary of a newly broken hearted 14 year old.

The rest of the film is largely the same as its predecessors, only slightly better. It’s a bit darker, most likely due to director David Slade’s experience with more disturbing material like 30 Days of Night and the terrific Hard Candy, yet he still introduces characters through ridiculous, laughable shots that feel more like fan service to show off the hunks in the picture than actual filmmaking. The action is better, again due to Slade’s past experiences, but its violence is toned down to fit its PG-13 rating and its CGI effects, particularly on the werewolves, look awful. The acting still stinks and, better still, the upper nudity of the male body is still exploited to gratuitous effect.

The only true enjoyment to be had in the Twilight films comes from listening to and watching the audience reaction to what happens onscreen. I find it hard to take this tripe seriously, but you’d think the oxygen was being sucked out of the room hearing the gasps from its adoring fans. When somebody got hurt, they shrieked in fear and when somebody gave a speech on love, regardless of how inane and manufactured it may have been, they cried. It almost makes me wonder what they would do if they actually saw a movie that was worthy of those emotions.

Now, I have no problem with the female population latching onto this series. The men have their Rambos and the women have their Twilights, but it’s time to step out from the clouds and look at these movies for what they truly are. If you liked the first two, I suspect you’ll enjoy this one, but liking something and arguing it as quality are two different things. Eclipse may be a step in the right direction for the franchise, but at this point, I fear “good” is an adjective that will never be used to describe it.

Eclipse receives 2/5