I went to see it with Hubbs today. It was part of our anniversary celebration (well, for *me* anyway - for Hubbs it was comedic relief). Vanilla Con - if you still want to see it I'm still game ;)
Verdict? I liked the book better, but isn't that always the case with books that turn into movies? You always like the one you were exposed to first, better. And of course, when you read the books the scenes seem far less....cheesy.
Don't get me wrong; I am satisfied with David Slade's direction, though I hear he butted heads artistically with some of the actors (namely my favourite, Rob Pattinson). The movie has a slightly darker, more violent edge to it, which makes the viewing experience a bit more appealing to guys like Hubbs. The fighting scenes were definitely more exciting than in New Moon, and the "sleepover" scene sizzled (though I wish they would have stayed more true to the book and made it a bit longer). I thought that the CGI wolves were more convincingly menacing in this film, and some of the cinematography was really artsy even without the blue filter a la Hardwicke. I also appreciated the attempt to bring some humour and levity into the film. Everyone knows that these are not Oscar-worthy flicks, and don't warrant the intensity of a Schindler's List movie; the funny bits help remind the audience not to take it too seriously. Given that David Slade was limited in part by the story itself, and by the screen play, I think that he did a pretty decent job with the weak source material he had to work with.
Hubbs also commented that he thought the actors should be commended for trying their best to stay true to the characters and not overact or make them campy, a temptation I'm sure most actors face when they realize that their characters are somewhat farcical and prone to being the butt of jokes.
But the film had its flaws, too; for one, the "tent" scene was cheesy, way more so than I remember it from the book. It's one thing to read those sappy lines on paper, and another thing entirely to hear them uttered out loud. That was one of my favourite scenes to read, but the tension that was palpable in the novel didn't evidence itself on screen. At all. Though I liked him in the first movie, I also did not find Taylor Lautner convincing as Jacob-the-man-who-changes-into-a-werewolf, and a challenger for Bella's affections. Lautner plays boy-next-door really well, but as a love interest, he falls short (perhaps that is the intention)? I wonder if his role had been re-cast in New Moon, would that have made for a hotter love triangle? Somehow, I could believe Bella's affections being torn if it was between pretty boy RPattz and that 6-pack hottie Michael Copon. Just sayin'....
I also really really missed Rachelle Lefevre as Victoria. She was deliciously evil in the first two flicks, and Bryce Dallas Howard really didn't have the edginess or cajones to fill her shoes. Bad decision, Summit. You shouldn't have dropped Lefevre over a silly scheduling issue that could have been resolved.
The story was also pretty choppy, though I'm not sure if this was because of Rosenberg's screenplay or Slade's direction; regardless, I felt like the plot transitions could have been smoother. There were also parts of the book that didn't show up in the movie. For die-hard fans like me, that was unforgivable (e.g. where was Seth's big shining moment!?? The bonding with Edward part that was key to bridging the wolf-vamp relationship was never even mentioned).
I also found Bella's hair (Kristen Stewart's wig) to be a major distraction; her hairline kept moving forward and backward and sometimes her hair was curly, and other times it was straight. I highly doubt that, when her life was being threatened, that the Bella of the novel would have had time to curl her naturally straight hair. A minor detail, but one that really distracted me. Oh - and Bella uses the word EPIC in this movie, which is beyond wrong in my books. Nobody should ever use that word unless they're describing literature.
The highlights of the movie?
- Sarah Clarke as Renee - convincing portrayal of Bella's flighty mom
- Billy Burke as Charlie - the sex talk scene was awesome
- The other wolves - they didn't have a lot of screen time but I thought their acting was spot on and believable; I could totally buy that they belonged to the tribe
- Riley (Xavier Samuel) - very handsome and sympathetic villain; I see a bright future for this young actor
- Rob Pattinson - he still looks stiff as a constipated corpse sometimes (sorry honey!), but in a few scenes you see him really get comfortable as Edward, and those are the moments that I love the most. Plus, he's very very handsome in his chalky white make-up; the man *is* beautiful to look at.
- The meadow - is that in BC? It's beautiful, so much so that I want to find that place and roll around in it with Hubbs. I wouldn't make him re-enact the scenes though; that would be cruel.
And out of sheer morbid curiosity, I'll even go to see Breaking Dawn when it eventually comes out in theatres, though I won't be expecting much (unless they complete ditch the novel and come up with an alternate plot line that doesn't involve C-sections or "imprinting" or "cue-to-black" scenes). Mostly, I want to see Edward-Bella "business time" and if the next movie can give me that and make it hot, I might even forgive the whole deal with the name Renesme. Wait, scratch that. Nothing can make me forgive that.