5-star Review: Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

For my 5-star review of part one, click here.

So at the end of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 I kept thinking to myself what an absolutely amazing film it was, complete with jaw-dropping performances, painterly cinematography, and a thoughtful and clever script that belongs with some of the greatest pop-confection screenplays that’s ever been written in the past decade. I marveled in the film’s exquisite direction, its fleshed out characters and how the filmmakers really covered all the bases of the origins and physiology of both the vampires and shapeshifters. I was reminded of the paean tribute to pure love, that love indeed does conquer all and above everything else it is the central source for the energy of life.


Really? Seriously? In fourth grade I wrote a story for English class about Thanksgiving. It featured a turkey that was being hunted down by a farmer with a shotgun. The farmer cornered the turkey in a thicket and prepared to blast the turkey into fucking oblivion when - in a genius move according to my idiotic eight year-old brain - the turkey woke up AND IT WAS ALL JUST A FUCKING DREAM. I even drew a picture in crayon of a turkey with a gun in its face and it was sweating bullets. I was really proud of that shit. Like I’d just written Finnegans Wake or something. A week later I got my story back from my teacher with a big fat fucking ‘C-’ emblazoned across it with a final note from my teacher saying ‘you can do better than that.’ That’s all I kept thinking about after watching a guy who’s supposed to control the elements punch a fucking hole in the Earth down to the magma.

If anything, Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2 is a devastating magnifying glass into the failure of the global educational system, in its inability to impart rational thought and logic in our prefrontal cortexes. The beauty of any fiction is for us to suspend belief in something really new, but then when a story fails even its own batshit crazy ideas, that’s an entirely new and epic level of stupidity.

Hey, I can run faster than the speed of fucking light, so, I dunno, let me just jump into my Volvo and drive all the fucking way to Seattle to have dinner with Bunk from ‘The Wire.’ Yeah, that makes total sense! Or hey, I just delivered a genetic abomination that pretty much killed me, my father who inexplicably still loves me thinks I’m dead, and the first thing that comes to my mind is let me rip the throat out of a fucking mountain lion who was probably just trying to feed her cubs. Oh and then I’ll have sex with my douchebag husband who knocked me up and pretty much is the reason why I’m walking dead in the first place. Shheeeit - my newborn and my dad can wait until I knock out a few orgasms and yell horrible shit at the wolves who saved my bony ass in the last movie. That’s gratitude for ya, Bella Swan! FUCK YOU.

But here’s the point in my review where I’m man enough to make an admission, which is that in my review of Part 1, I called the Cullens a racist piece of shit family for killing the one black vampire in the universe. I was wrong. Apparently there are other black and minority vampires in the world, easily made apparent by, oh, the motherfucking Amazonian women wearing nothing but feathers and leaves and the Mayan vampires who, despite living for 115 years, have yet to discover a pair of Levis jeans and Gisele Bundchen flip flops. And oh! That vampire MUST be Irish because I dunno, he’s a big pasty white guy with red hair and he wears a knit beret! Yeah! Aye, lassie! Hooray for vampire diversity! FUCK YOU TWILIGHT THIS ISN’T ‘BIRTH OF A NATION.’

Kiss me I’m Irish, if you couldn’t tell.

The Cullens also represent that weird demographic of rich people who decide to have wine, s’mores and monkey sex while the most evil, heinous group of attackers are bearing down to kill a small child. It’s akin to having an Arby’s beef-n-cheddar while the INS raids your home and deports your family. But mm mm - that Arby’s is sure is delicious! And what in the flying fuck took the Volturi so long to get to the Cullen compound? I mean, they run at the speed of light and shit, right? Did they also drive Volvos across the Atlantic Ocean? And why are they all dressed like extras from an unmade made-for-tv version of ‘Phantom of the Opera?’ Wouldn’t they be best served by using their bottomless pits of money to hire a team of attorneys to have the Cullens imprisoned for money laundering, pedophilia AND necrophilia? There isn’t a magical vampire power in the world to defend yourself from the legal team of Bryan “Bulldog” Moore.

I’d like to see you throw a shield up against this rabid asshole, Bella Swan.

'Twilight' also introduced me to a powerful new writing tool, which I'd like to affectionately call 'Have Any Shit Conveniently Come Out of the Fucking Forest to Fill a Plot Hole,' or HASCCOFFFPH for short. Trying to get Alice and Jasper back into the story in a convenient way? Just have them walk out of the fucking forest. Need a Mayan to tie up a convenient battle that never happened? Just have him walk out of a fucking forest. Need a catalyst to see a child and not bother to ask any questions, thereby triggering the weakest motivation for war ever conceived since weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Just have that idiot appear at the edge of the fucking forest. This is such an unequivocal, studio-approved writing convention and I'm all the better for it. Need to resolve a conflict between two warring alien races on Mars? Just have the love child of both warring sides walk out of a fucking forest. BUT IT HAS TO BE A MARTIAN FOREST. We can't afford to be sloppy here.

Conveniently walking out of the fucking theater, I couldn’t help but think that we deserve the ‘Twilight’ film franchise. It’s a product of our collective desire to shuck crap at the lowest common denominator and somehow pass it as a “guilty pleasure.” Twilight isn’t a guilty pleasure, it’s a series of snuff films documenting the live assassination of our sense of dignity. As before, its role as a harbinger of our impending doom makes it one of the most important and critical documents of the decline of human civilization, and it must be treasured and lauded for its sheer ambition to destroy all living life forms. The Twilight franchise is therefore our generation’s Rosetta Stone, a codex necro for a new way of thinking, which is to not think a goddamned thing at all. And for that alone, it belongs in the canon of the most important films ever made. Weird fucking CGI baby and all. Five more golden, sparkly fucking stars.

Sssoo c-cold…

5-star Review: Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS FLOWERY LANGUAGE. And also spoilers. Like I give a flying fuck. The movie’s made a bazillion dollars. You’ve been warned.

Let’s get this out in the open. From the very first Twilight movie, when the marketing teams posited the choice of allegiance, I took Team Jacob. I find werewolves to be the much cooler iteration, as there are tribal overtones and there’s an inherent connection to nature that I dig. Vampires reek of artifice and style for style’s sake. And I like animals.

That said, Team Jacob also is also a facet of a new pinnacle of stupidity in storytelling which has culminated in the latest installment of the Twilight film series, Breaking Dawn, Part One. That there are two parts to this insipid finale means that this was done to extract an additional billion dollars from the ruthless and irrationally loyal fan base of this inexplicably bizarre series.

In many ways, Breaking Dawn delivers on the horror genre. You know, there’s that immensely stupid girl who ventures into the forest alone, barefoot, without a flashlight or telling anyone of her whereabouts, with her boobs hanging out. "Don’t open that door!" screams the audience, but bimbotron does it anyway, because she has an undying academic curiosity - looks like someone’s been reading my post on quantum physics! Dumbass opens the door and gets her head knocked into tomorrow by some hulking giant armed with a ball peen hammer. Eeek!

That’s sort of the similar experience I had watching Breaking Dawn, as Bella Swan - easily qualifying as the single most idiotic character in all of history - perpetually makes one mind-blowingly foolish decision after another. Bella Swan is so stupid that even stupid people find her stupid.

Hey Bella, having sex with a vampire can cause bodily harm! That’s okay, I can handle it. It’s for love. Hey Bella, that baby inside you is going to kill you, and everyone, including your father who doesn’t know you’re pregnant and genuinely loves you is going to be very sad! That’s okay, I’ve already put my dad through hell so what’s my death going to matter, and plus I want to piss Edward off for making me wait this long. Oh and I have to respect the life of my fetus more than my own. Fuck you. Hey Bella, you’re totally dragging wolf-boy along and fucking with his emotions whilst claiming you’re a decent human being! I’m Bella Swan, motherfucker, I can do whatever I want. Hey Bella, they’re making you drink fucking human blood, and you’re not even a vampire! I don’t care, it tastes like Odwalla. Fuck you, don’t tell me how to live my life.

There will be blood.

Fair enough, Bella Swan, you’re a fucking idiot and there’s nothing we can do about it. And don’t get me started on Edward. Dumbass keeps saying crap like “I’ll protect you” and “nobody hurts my family” and he talks all kinds of shit with the werewolves, and yet does he do any of that? His girl is in perpetual danger, he needs the help of the wolves like all the fucking time, and is too busy moping in the corner to actually fight. Grow a spine, you worthless sparkling piece of shit. You got a girl pregnant, she’s stupid enough to die for it, so be a man, stop moping and live up to the two cents of potential that you’re capable of.

And why does anyone admire the Cullens? Because they drive Volvos? They’re inherently racist with the werewolves and killed off the one black vampire in the entire fucking universe. Their idea of being nice is stealing blood from blood banks (blood meant to save multiple humans in fucking hospitals) to feed an idiotic girl who should know better than to give birth to a child that will a) kill her and b) lead the entire vampire-werewolf-frankenstein-chupacabra-jackalope communities into all out apocalyptic war.

Spare the sweet jackalope.

But nooooo - the Cullens believe in love, and more than love they believe in being bullied around by a girl who is so stupid she thinks the YMCA is Macy’s spelled incorrectly.

What’s the endgame in all of this? Of course I’ll have to see Part 2 to find out, but I suspect it still revolves around Bella’s twisted sense of self-worth, simply a vessel to suffer for a boy who is ill-fit for her, and doesn’t do anything in return for her except make her suffer and teeter on obliteration. BUT SHE’S IN LOVE, and HE FUCKING SPARKLES. You know what, Bella? Here’s an alternative. Sprinkle some glitter on an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, lock the door, and let your imagination do the rest. There’s your fucking safe sex, Stephanie Meyer.

Uh, buy these jeans. NOW.

Oh and Jacob? Instead of falling in romantic love with an infant -which is fucking gross, I don’t care if you call it “imprinting” - how about, oh, I don’t know, MOVING ON. You ran up to Canada, I’m sure there are some pretty classy, nice gals in Toronto or Vancouver who won’t play you like a fucking Mario Brother. American Werewolf in London, Ontario. DO IT.

Perhaps instead of being a parable of abstinence, Twilight is the poster child for sadomasochism. Not since Pasolini’s Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom have I seen more human punishment with vague sexual undertones. In Salo we even have people literally eating shit, which is something I’m sure Jacob can relate to.

Breaking Dawn contains exactly 45 seconds of brilliance, and that is a scene-stealing turn by Anna Kendrick, who plays Bella’s friend and is the only person in the entire Twilight universe who thinks this entire scenario is blisteringly idiotic. It’s an inspired piece of acting, likely improvised because there’s no way the writers of Breaking Dawn could come up with anything that clever and observant. No, instead we get Bella looking like fucking Skeletor and then turning around and saying “I’m fine.” Jesus H Christ almighty. Is this a Lifetime Original Movie on bulimia? No? it should be. Throw in abusive relationships, the case for psychiatric care, medication, and marriage counseling and you’ve got a basic-cable winner. DO IT.

Breaking Dawn is a fucking gross house centipede wearing the bloodied, putrefied skin of a baby harp seal set to the tune of a Sarah McLachlan track. It’s a hemorrhoid on the ass of a failed competitive eater who lives in his dead grandmother’s house in New Mexico. Better yet, it’s the story of of Bella Swan, the girl who loved. That’s about as romantic as sticking your hand into a Cuisinart and cauterizing the wound with Clorox bleach and a hair dryer.

Can you tell I liked the movie? I thought maybe - maybe- I could sit back and admire the cinematography of Academy Award winner Guillermo Navarro, but I was even robbed of that. The film is drab, monochromatic and the framing is about as inspired as police brutality video. What happened?

Twilight happened, that’s what. I doubt no level of talent could overcome the basic premise of this god-awful and completely unnecessary series. But Sridhar, you say, what about romance? What about rekindling those awkward moments of pining for that boy/ girl when you were a teen? Go watch Once, or Spirited Away or the Harry Potter films. Not some movie about psychological and physical abuse in the name of idiotic obsession over how “totally hot” some emotionally-distant guy is. Better yet, just go and say “hi” to that girl or guy that you pine for. It’ll help you live a full, complete life, and not hide behind a shitty movie and a shittier set of books. If you get your heart broken, congratulations - you’re now living a beautiful, complete life.

I realize a review like this will make you want to see the movie even more. It’s called schadenfreude. Morbid curiosity. Like slowing down to see a car crash. Are there any dead bodies? Eww, I didn’t want to see that. Yes you did. Perhaps catastrophe seen from the armchair is that most passive form of self-psychoanalysis, and Twilight is that mirror to our cold, hard, uncaring faces. It can be that watershed moment when we realize that we are not Bella Swan, we are not selfish and completely lacking in gray matter, instead we care, we understand that we’re a part of something bigger, we’re smart, confident and self-assured. And if we find ourselves relating at all to Bella Swan, then that’s the sign that we need to commit ourselves to finding help and save ourselves and the loved ones around us. If that is the case, then Breaking Dawn earns five stars from me. Five golden, sparkly fucking stars.

Science and the Screenwriter.

I was gobsmacked when a few days ago I looked at the front page of the BBC News website and saw that a story about Twilight: Breaking Dawn had taken greater precedence over the recent findings from the CERN Labs that a neutrino had been recorded to have traveled faster than the speed of light. Just process that for a second: faster than the speed of light. This means that our fundamentals of physics will forever be changed, as will how we must empirically process the universe and creation itself. The claim is still being confirmed, but for now, this is big, monumental stuff.

Next stop - tachyons.

There have been numerous other discoveries in physics that have gone under the radar, but that have a profound impact on how we must view life as we know it. Recent studies in the creation of antimatter and our inching towards a state of absolute zero - the condition of thermodynamics wherein we reach ground state - makes the lay observer question things like what it means to exist.

Think about it - if a particle has a zero-point of stage of quantum mechanics, i.e. both potential and kinetic energy are zero, then can it be considered alive? We have had instances in biology that make us question this. A virus, while containing genetic information, is not really a living thing. It has no cellular functions, nor does it have the basic physiology of a single celled organism. It is merely a protein coat that houses a genetic code. It lives by injecting its DNA into a host organism, which replicates inside the cell and then explodes, releasing more viruses. It is therefore neither alive or dead - it is something inbetween, and we’ve yet to give a name for this. It is a zero-point entity.

As I write the next screenplay for my Paul Pope project, I find myself turning to science to explain the characters’ motivations. I initially did this because Paul’s story is a work of science fiction - anyone who has read any of Paul’s graphic novels knows that he has a predilection for science. My first rule for writing science fiction is that there must be governing laws within the universe that must be explained by a scientific phenomenon, be it fictional or real. For almost two months I’ve been reading about quantum mechanics and cellular functions to give a real-life grounding to the phenomena in Paul’s story. I eventually did formulate my sciences in this fictional world, but in doing so I also unlocked a powerful new tool in seeing plot and character.

Paul Pope and science fiction are a marriage made in heaven. And no, we’re not making a THB film. Announcement coming soon.

In asking the classic Mamet question of what does a character want, and what happens when they don’t get it, I started to think of this question in terms of quantum physics. I did this because Mamet’s question is in reference to motion - it is, in many ways, a conversion of potential energy (the thought) into kinetic (the action / reaction). The main characters all have their motivations, but one character in Paul’s book exists in a gray area. The character isn’t well-developed in the story, so I’ve been given the green light to really build up who this person is. And I turned to physics for it.

We see it all the time in science fiction and horror, where a character magically appears and disappears from our consciousness. Think of Freddy Krueger or the biomechanical alien in Alien. There is a dream logic applied to it, but I think it can be explained in a greater term of physics. Why is it that a monster of the mind is always ten steps ahead of us, and that they are able to manifest themselves at any given point, but we cannot pin them down? It can be explained by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, which implies that it is impossible to simultaneously measure the present position while also determining the future motion of a particle, or of any system small enough to require quantum mechanical treatment. In essence, the minute we ascertain the position of one phenomena, it is impossible to measure future phenomena because it has already moved on. There is no present moment, because the future has already happened and continues to happen.

Take a bite of an apple. The millisecond our brain registers the apple is a moment of the past. That bite already happened, and we’ve already moved beyond that. Now think of Freddy Krueger. He is, essentially, a manifestation of fear. He registers in our head as a moment of terror, but as a particle manifestation he has already moved on. As long as we remain fixated on comprehending the position we last saw him in, he can freely move on to be ten steps ahead of us. He is, in many ways, in our inevitable future at all times.

So how do you stop a creature that’s always ahead of you? It’s another quantum physics solution, which is Schrödinger’s Cat. The basis of Schrödinger’s Cat is where a cat is placed into a box with a poison and a radioactive substance, and the box is closed. There is a 50/50 chance that an isotope will release the poison and kill the cat. But we don’t know if the cat is alive or dead until we look in the box. At this moment, the cat is existing on two planes - it is, for a brief moment, both alive and dead. Like Freddy.

But the solution to this is to simply open the box and find out if the cat is either alive or dead, and not both live and dead. So to defeat Freddy, one must open the lid and expose his true state - It’s too late, Krueger. I know the secret now. This is just a dream. You’re not alive. This whole thing is just a dream.

One can see now how we can build plot points based on quantum physics, and we know it will work because these are the fundamentals of motion. And what is storytelling but the unveiling of a timeline, film but a continuum, characters but a conversion?

Understanding science, and more so having a natural curiosity for it, is a gift to the screenwriter because not only does it allow us to fundamentally unlock mysteries on a molecular / subatomic particle level, but it allows us to create mystery using the grander forces that govern our existence. It’s been said that the writer is playing God, creating universes in her mind. If this is so then she must understand the forces she is playing with, and she will be the ultimate puppeteer. I love this approach to screenwriting, because once I figure out my internal laws of existence, I can play within those parameters and make anything happen, and it will always make sense because it is based on universal truths. My screenplay won’t be riddled with scientific explanations (unlike this post), but it will operate by them, and they will present both obstacles and solutions that are very real.

I know what you’re thinking - this is paralysis by analysis, overthinking something that should be free and organic. I argue though that my scientific research for this project is merely research and groundwork, it is not the writing itself. We all have to do research before writing something - this is absolutely required. Our definition of what constitutes research is different for every writer. For some it is going out in the field and living the experiences of the characters first-hand. I feel every writer should do this to some extent, or at least interview and befriend people who have lived through those experiences to get an honest account of what it means to live that life. For other writers, research is simply reading books and watching movies, which is also required but is also limiting, because you are confining yourself to the observations of others. The best solution is therefore a combination of both, where we read and collect, and then bounce that knowledge off of real life. What emerges is a unique perspective, and when this perspective collides with our worldview and personal philosophy, it is then that we create a highly personal, highly truthful story.

I embrace physics, biology and mathematics because I love them, but also because it is a way for me to figure out the worlds I create in my head. It gives shape and tangibility to my dreams. It fuels my curiosity to learn more, to possibly discover a new, alien way of thinking. It is like being Steven Hawking or Carl Sagan and looking out into the stars, and admitting that we still know nothing, but that the information we have is the gateway to discovering the new horizon. We need to have that sense of exploration, of discovery, of wonderment. And we need it in everything we do, not just storytelling. We tell stories with the hope of revealing something new and profound about us, about the human condition. Paintings and music reveal truths that are buried deep within us that we previously had no way of expressing. They are forging the new frontier of our psychological landscape. We can unlock the universe with our words, images, motions and sounds. But we have to get our foot in the door first, and that’s what research will do. So do it well, do it right, and do it because our hearts desire to unlock the mysteries of our own being. If that’s not exciting, then I don’t know what is.

Under Your Spell


Drive (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Played 190 times

Music for the Weekend: Under Your Spell by Desire, from the Drive soundtrack.

Having worked so incredibly well with Julia on Lilith and becoming a dear friend, I often take for granted just how beautiful she is. I know, it’s crazy, but it actually happens. Sometimes it’s just nice to step back and enjoy the grandeur of creation. Julia was recently on the black carpet at the premiere of Twilight: Breaking Dawn and was an absolute vision.

Julia Voth is killer. Glad she’s on my side. :) Have a great weekend!