Less than ten seconds. That is, of course, the time it took Taylor Lautner to reveal his golden pectoral loveliness to auditoriums of gasping fans in the latest Twilight installment. It didn’t take long and it didn’t disappoint. But director Bill Condon’s cavalier attitude with the beloved conventions of the most successful vampire franchise in history left most fans stifling giggles, as opposed to sobs.
Kicking off with about half an hour of wedding-based action, Bella is preened and primped by vampire sisters-to-be until finally being shoved down the aisle with her long-suffering father. Built in the minds of fifteen year old fans and realised by the production team, the wedding itself is a suitably fantastical and decadent affair. Pale-faced vampire hotty Pattinson waits for his brides at the top of the altar, all 400 million of them.
The wedding speeches provide a rare sequence of intentionally funny scripting, with dad Billy Burke proving that he remains one of the best and most convincing characters in the series. And after a sojourn in Canada to quell his rage at the wedding invite (misspelt name?), scorned ex Jacob makes a cameo appearance at the ceremony. Here he learns of Bella’s intention to get it on with her new vampire hubby before he “changes her” and is fuming. And we thought the angsty battles about marriage, sex and “waiting” were over.
Over on their deserted honeymoon escape, Edward’s “old school” ways run deeper than we first thought. Apparently, in his 109 years, he missed out on the invention of contraception. After several surprisingly dispassionate sex scenes, Bella soon find herself munching down bloody chicken and peanut butter first thing in the morning.
The rest of the film largely entails close-ups on Robert Pattinson’s agonised face and Taylor Lautner’s furrowed-brow. Bella is keeping this life-draining baby, even if she has to drink blood slush puppies to keep it subdued. A ridiculous baby name decision-making scene leaves the happy couple deciding on “your mother and my mother’s name, Renee and Esme. Renesmee” and we settle in for the wait.
Despite audience guffaws, a po-faced Pattinson attempts to keep up his surly charade but it is clear that he’s had enough. It almost looked as if he was learning lines for his next David Cronenberg release. And who can blame him. Splitting the final Twilight book in two has left this first film gasping for action and starved of life.
A few lack-lustre sex scenes are entirely overshadowed by a wholly horrifying birth scene involving Edward gnashing away at her placenta and Rosalie sticking in the knife in once and for all. It all throws a bizarre question mark over the film’s 12 rating. Truly horrifying and entirely ridiculous, Condon was having a good hard laugh at the Twi-hards when he put that one together.
The dire special effects rub salt into an already gaping wound. Let’s not talk about them.
Fans will enjoy seeing the story progress, the beautiful wedding (and Bella’s dress) and the red-eyed finale which sets us up nicely for next November. But I was a big fan of the first film and have followed the story from start to finish. But even as a fan – this was a disappointment.