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.

AND THEN I FUCKING WOKE UP AND REALIZED IT WAS ALL JUST A FUTURE THAT NEVER FUCKING HAPPENED HA HA HA I JUST PULLED A FAST ONE ON YOU WHICH WILL FOREVER BE KNOWN AS ‘PULLIN’ AN ALICE’ HA HA LOOKIT ME I’M SOO SMART MOTHERFUCKERS KNEEL TO MY GREATNESS AH HAA *cough* *cough” HA *hack*

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.

Hot Topic: What Went Wrong With Wonder Woman.

Holy hell that’s an alliteration!

So call it a case of schadenfreude or whatever, but I felt the need to download and watch David E. Kelley’s preemptively canceled Wonder Woman pilot. My interest in the project is twofold given that a) I’m a huge fan of the Lynda Carter series and the subsequent kickass animated film, and b) that there’s been a large underground fan support for Julia Voth to be Wonder Woman. I think she’d be awesome for it, and even when we were doing the color correction, Patrick, the colorist, paused Lilith on a frame of Julia wearing glasses and said “I just have to say it, Julia simply is Wonder Woman.”


Julia in ‘Lilith.’ I see Sarah Wilson, Patrick sees Wonder Woman.

But thank the lord that Julia wasn’t in this pilot. Even in its unfinished state, Wonder Woman was an absolute car crash of different ideologies and goals. It seems to encapsulate Hollywood’s so-far failed attempts at “grrl power” aesthetics, i.e. the confident woman who kicks ass like a man but bleeds with the heart of a lady (with massive, heaving bosom). See Red Riding Hood, Tomb Raider or any reboot out these days and you’ll see what I’m talking about.


Snow White with a shield, battle armor and sword? Uh, okay.

If we look at the original Wonder Woman created by William Marston, Diana of Themyscira was not just a symbol of female equality, she was actually a thesis that women were superior to men. Marston’s basis was that women could win wars with love, and not bloodshed. Diana was the perfect woman, blessed by the gods, and destined to be “beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules, and swifter than Mercury.”

Looking at the original Lynda Carter television series, despite its action hokeyness (an issue of execution rather than intent), they pretty much got the character spot on. Carter plays Diana with a deft sensitivity that is uniquely and solely female, and she was a real woman’s woman - curvy, alluring, and most importantly, emotionally flawed. Diana struggled with her responsibilities as a warrior queen, as a vigilante, and as a woman.


Nobody rocked a Diane Von Furstenburg wrap dress like Lynda Carter.

The DC animated movie ups the ante by maintaining the same physical and character traits, but irons out the hokey action with awesomely rendered fight scenes. In the animated series Diana lives up to her warrior status, kicking ass out of a sense of responsibility to protecting others. The series also plays up one of the most intriguing aspects of the character, which is that Diana, like Superman, is an alien to the human race. She is learning about human behavior and feelings, and unlike her Draconian existence in Themyscira with the Amazons, Diana is allowed to be a little selfish, to love on her own for her own desire.

Fast forward past the various attempts by Joss Whedon to bring Wonder Woman to the big screen (which I’m quite sure would have been awesome), and we arrive at David E. Kelley’s version. From the outset, things were off. We see Wonder Woman tracking down a thug in a crowed street, leaping cars with a wire-work silliness that only paid dividends in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. (Wires are for Wuxia, remember that motto always). Diana tackles the thug and forcibly takes a sample of his blood, kicking his beaten body to the feet of oncoming police officers. She’s all of a sudden become Batman, the ire of the police department and a vigilante with a chip on her shoulder.

We find out later as to why she has a chip on her shoulder, it’s because giant evil corporations are killing poor black kids in the hood who just want to go to college. Oh brother. Her burden, then, is apparently that she just can’t be everywhere to help everyone. That’s like the college application essay question that asks us to describe our greatest weakness, and some smartass overachiever writes "My greatest weakness is that I just work too hard and care too much."


Get a life.

Then shit gets weird. Kelley has Diana be the head of a giant corporation that makes money selling dolls in her own image (cue Malibu Stacy), and then, inexplicably, she goes home to a small apartment where she plays out every cliche of the modern, lonely single woman who lives with her cat and watches The Notebook over and over and over again, all while devouring a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos. Lonely Diana’s biggest problem is that she can’t set up her Facebook page. Seriously.

But when lonely Diana becomes Wonder Woman, a strange thing happens. She talks about her boobs being agents of persuasion (again, seriously) and she fucking kills people. Like murder. Sure, they’re bad guys, but still. Wonder Woman doesn’t murder people, she conquers with compassion. At least that’s what I thought.

This new interpretation of Wonder Woman is a heartless machine, something more similar to the Terminator than an Amazon Queen. Even the selection of Adrianne Palicki as Wonder Woman seems off - she’s no doubt a beautiful woman but her face is stone cold, almost shapeless, and her body over-inflated (her bustier clearly shows where her already generous bust ends and the padding begins). She’s not a woman, she’s a sketch of a woman, and through a male gaze no less. Kelley’s Diana is not flawed by her own desires to be free, but rather by a crippling insecurity that the world is moving on without her. She is only confident when she has her costume on or playing dress-up as a corporate executive, which is Psych 101 for a debilitating low self-esteem. But when Kelley’s Wonder Woman fights the bad guys, she has a carnal, almost sexualized bloodlust. You’d think as a guy I’d be turned on by that, but it’s actually kind of disturbing and creepy to watch.

So do all girls on film have to kick ass, nay, destroy, to be seen as confident and strong? Is this the precedent that Wonder Woman set for future heroines? I don’t think so. The Wonder Woman of today is a videogame fantasy, an avatar controlled by teenage-minded men, programmed to destroy like a man, but submit like the way they want their women to be. We’ve allowed feminism to be interpreted by men, which when that happens, will eventually always work in the man’s favor.

So who is Wonder Woman on film? Look at Meryl Streep’s performance as Julia Child in Julie & Julia. A woman working against the forces set up against her, a woman pursuing her dreams, acknowledging the support of her best friend - her husband - and achieving success and fulfillment on her own terms. Look at Sigourney Weaver in the Alien series - kicking serious ass, but not as a man would, which is to simply blow everything up, but as a woman would, with surgical precision and purpose. She’s deadly, alluring and compelling all at the same time.

Of course I’d be lying if I said Wonder Woman didn’t have a sexual element to her - she is wearing a bustier and booty shorts, for god’s sake. She is a definite Wonder from a physiological standpoint, but unlike the Kelley remake, she never uses her sexual allure as a weapon or tool of manipulation. In the comics and the earlier adaptations, she was simply beautiful, and not a seductress. We’ve now made Wonder Woman into a fetish, and she deserves better than that.


Now and then.