Twilight fans, rejoice. The much-anticipated, fourth (and a half) instalment in this hugely successful franchise is out and going strong. But on its own terms, is it a film for everyone? Hmmmm….
Firstly - just to give it some context – Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) are getting married. Their wedding day is both an emotional and adorable, almost like a gothic fairy tale (in fact, one could argue the whole franchise has the traits of one). She is still relentlessly pursued by the third corner of the love triangle, Jacob (Taylor Lautner). While on their honeymoon, Bella falls pregnant much to the astonishment of the characters – "But how? It's impossible." And as it becomes less and less likely that Bella will survive as a result of this excruciating birth, it becomes more and more likely that she will have what she always wanted – to become like Edward.
Just from these few plot points we know this will indeed pack a few punches for the hunk-hungry tweenie, and on this point, the nightmare sequences, Bella's transformation, and the climactic birth scene are all handled quite well. Director Bill Condon (Dreamgirls , Kinsey ) has handled the material with care, bringing the souls and desires of all those in the town of Forks to life in sweet care and stunning beauty (the wedding sequence is wonderful). But with this, comes a price. The characters are very cardboard from the beginning, and four films later you would expect that we have a firm grasp on the characters and their interests in the drama, but it is quite one-dimensional. All the leads seem uncomfortable in their parts, looking as if they are trying too hard to impress us, particularly Pattinson as the undead expecting Daddy. As a result of this, it is very melodramatic and in some places cringe-worthy. Watching one of several pull-focus shots from Edward to Jacob as he mournfully looks out a window and utters something posing as a poignant piece of dialogue, one cannot help but think, "Ugh, THIS was the best take?" Without going into a comparison to the novel, there is an abundance of long-dramatic pauses that are seemingly where their inner-monologues from the book happen, but rather than the audience watching a close-up that lasts a lifetime, it should perhaps have been integrated better into the dialogue, adding a much deeper subtext. Another factor that doesn't help this is the many, many montages - one would think it's a Rocky film.
Nevertheless, it is beautifully shot, well-guided by director Condon, and Twilight fans will not be disappointed. From literally within the first minute you will know the wait is finally over. But from a neutral standpoint, it is a very overblown, overplayed and overrated romance that has feet a little too big to fit the shoes of most audiences.
As a boyfriend who gets dragged along to these films, I found this entry to be the weakest so far. Only die hard fans could truly enjoy the slow pace and weak acting, though the dark feel towards the end was a highlight. With one more film to go, much can be improved.