Posts Tagged ‘movie reviews’

12 Times Oscar Got It Right

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014

I wrote an article about this very thing for Rolling Stone. I got to compare Brandon in The Godfather to James Brown inventing funk and God parting form from void, so that was fun.


“American Hustle” thoughts

Monday, January 27th, 2014

David O. Russell’s American Hustle is best described as…

a) a paperback novelization of a Martin Scorsese movie
b) an SNL skit that blew the week’s wig budget
c) one of those movies with a solid cast and serious-looking art direction on the DVD cover when you spot it in the discount bin at a 7/11, and you look at it and go “whoa, this never made it into theaters? How’d that happen? Must be a story there” and pick it up on a whim and watch it and it’s pretty good, nothing spectacular, you can at least see why Jessica Lange and Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman signed on
c) an experiment to see how much of Amy Adams’s breasts we can see without ever actually seeing a whole breast. Oh, sure, Tumblr tells us you can see a single nipple for a single split-second in a single scene, but if anything that blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearance only emphasizes its ephemerality. Perhaps this — not the “no more fake shit” mantra, not the Abscam scandal, not the long cons that may or may not be being run — is the film’s central metaphor, the areola atop its mammary gland of artifice and fakery. In the end, can you ever, like, really see a breast?

American Hustle is a fun enough time at the movies, but a pretty preposterous contender for the best the art form had to offer in the year that was. Virtually all of the characters, from Christian Bale doing the film’s second-worst Robert DeNiro impression to Bradley Cooper eating the scenery like Bale must have been hitting the craft services table to Jennifer Lawrence emotionally careening all the way around an inconsistently drawn Perfidious Female, are actors wearing cool costumes and doing funny accents rather than people. There are a couple of exceptions: Adams is pretty good in a role that requires the character to realize she’s only an ersatz femme fatale for two doofuses rather than the real thing — she reminds me of Bilbo Baggins’ self-descriptive “butter scraped across too much bread”; she has a moment in a bathroom stall, a look on her face, that’s the film’s sole genuinely sexy moment. Jeremy Renner works quite well as a politician whose crookedness is really and truly just a matter of constituent services; his character is set in opposition to the film’s entire project of letting sleazy-looking ’70s clothes and tri-state area ethnicity stand in for a thoroughgoing examination of a milieu. I found myself wishing his career arc between this and, say, Dahmer had flowed less through action-hero stuff and more into just disappearing into life’s casualties like he did in those two films.

The film did have one truly memorable scene, the one where it all came together, where Bale and Adams’s con artists and Cooper’s overly ambitious FBI agent and Renner’s hapless mayor and Lawrence’s desperate housewife are all drawn into a party where the sting they’re involved in suddenly balloons into a monstrosity capable of bringing down senators and destroying one of the most powerful organized crime outfits in North America, which is to say one capable of getting them all killed, even as the personal deceptions each of them has been running on one another threaten to crack up in restroom and bar-stool screaming matches. Everyone involved suddenly has so much to do, so much to think about, so much of it disconnected and drawing them in different directions, that you realize how straightforward and inert the rest of the material is. Previous party scenes feel sparse not just because of the bizarrely low-rent number of extras, you know? You just want the rest of the movie to have thought this hard about this stuff. Instead everyone gets a happy ending except the lawman, which is hilarious in a world that spent several months pillorying The Wolf of Wall Street for insufficient opprobrium directed to its scumbag characters. Crime pays!


Movie Time: 12 Years a Slave

Monday, December 30th, 2013

* A mentality by which one can see both Her and 12 Years a Slave and judge the former superior to the latter is a very foreign mentality to me. I’m grappling with that a lot tonight. There’s obviously an element of self-congratulation in preferring the horrifying historical drama about slavery to the twee portrait of an unlucky-in-love copywriter and his smartphone. And there’s an element of voyeurism, too, one only heightened by seeing the film in a packed theater full of middle-aged and elderly upper-middle-class white patrons from my preposterously segregated home of Long Island. Roxane Gay’s essay on the film for Vulture, for all it’s undergirded by presumptions about cinema I don’t share — I find brutality, spectacle, and decontextualized visual stylization, all of which she rejects at least as far as this movie is concerned, often inherently valuable in terms of conveying meaning; director Steve McQueen is proficient and profligate with all three — also makes the point that 12 Years a Slave furthers the idea that the movies about black people worth making involve their historical/political suffering at the hands of American white supremacy. All those caveats aside, I still found this film enormously compelling, as a story and as a political statement and as cinema, in ways that completely crush Her, which is routinely topping it in critics’ best-of-2013 lists. And that’s a gulf between me and other viewers that I’m thinking about a great dal.

* Crying in a crowded theater is difficult to do, for some reason. I wound up with tears streaming down my face consistently but without the usual sobbing and heaving — just a few sniffles. I’m embarrassed to say I was embarrassed.

* Stuffing your film with famous actors in bit parts is frequently a dubious proposition — remember Ted Danson in Saving Private Ryan? Yet the effect McQueen generated with that tactic here was invigorating, if menacingly so. Each time a new familiar face popped up, I found myself thinking “Oh Jesus, what’s this one gonna do?” Michael K. Williams, Paul Giamatti, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Dano, Sarah Paulson, Alfre Woodard, Garrett Dillahunt, Bryan Batt — each managed to be intimidating by virtue of simply being there, all famous and shit. By the time Brad Pitt showed up, an aged Golden God whose role in the narrative and his part in getting the film made in the first place combined for a sad and knowing take on the White Savior, the cameos moreover gave the film a true labor of love feeling, a “let’s put on a show” urgency.

* Though the film was written by an African American, its director and star are two black men from England, and it co-stars two more men from England as the lead character’s primary enslavers. I felt there was a unique fury brought to the material from those four outsiders’ perspectives. The crimes of an neighbor content to excuse or ignore them are often best exposed from next door. “I’m So Bored with the USA.”

* Chiwetel Ejiofor is actually better than you’ve heard. Long, lingering close-ups the first time he sings along with a spiritual, or on the day he entrusts the sympathetic white hired hand played by Pitt to write a letter to his friends back home to plead for rescue, are asked by McQueen to do nothing but allow the audience to linger in Ejiofor’s emotional and physical company as intimately as possible. He’s just remarkable.

* Lupita Nyong’o, the film’s female lead, is required to spend essentially all over her screentime in some form of extremis — the object of brutal scorn and even more brutal affection from her masters. Even during a brief respite at the brunch table of a neighbor who herself had been elevated from slave to “Mistress” thanks to her owner’s romantic inclinations, there’s a panic in the extension of her pinky finger she affects while taking tea. Her body is ultimately the tableau on which the film’s climactic act of violence is performed: the makeup effects are among the most physically upsetting I’ve ever seen, which given my predilections is saying something, but I used “tableau” because that’s what she is made to be, a canvas on which the emotions of her slaver, his wife, her fellow slave Solomon, and her own self are painted in blood. Hugely complicated, hugely upsetting. A goddamn highwire act is what it is, and she invests that character with such urgent sadness, right down to her final out-of-focus fall from the story.

* In the scenes where we see Ejiofor’s Solomon Northrup interact with his wife and kids as a free man in New York prior to his kidnapping, much of the antiquated formality of his and the other characters’ speech throughout the film, preserved from the autobiography which forms the basis of the film, necessarily falls away. Replace the horse-and-carriage with a car and the formal attire with t-shirts and jeans or whatever, and his last happy goodbye to his family (off on a business trip without him) could come from the opening of any Hollywood movie in which a good-natured family man gets fucked over by sinister forces. Which is important. Sounding like regular, everyday people by stripping away dialect, even just for a scene, goes a long way to conveying that Northrup was a regular, everyday person, until America’s nightmarish racist dystopia — a regime so repulsive and constructed on lies so preposterous we’d have a hard time accepting it as science fiction had it not actually happened in our actual history for hundreds of fucking years, were not television networks making money hand over fist by marketing its apologists as cuddly curmudgeons, were not cackling dimunitions and dismissals and denials of its horror repeated every day with the tweet of a #tcot hashtag, were its legacy not seen everywhere from voter registration laws to the lily white neighborhood i myself live in right this very second — swallowed him whole.


Movie Time: Her

Sunday, December 29th, 2013

Her is a movie in which a nebbishy dotcom writer named Theodore Twombly dates Amy Adams, Rooney Mara, and Olivia Wilde and falls in love with a computer voiced by Scarlett Johansson. I promise you, I fucking promise you, no matter how many five-star reviews and best-of-the-year lists you come across: Whatever picture you have in your head of what such a film will feel like, that picture is correct. None of the film’s strengths — most of which, from Joaquin Phoenix’s feature-length Michael Stuhlbarg impression to some cute 120-minutes-into-the-future costume, game, and tech design, are minor; one of which, its frank and explicit treatment of sex as a component of love, is mitigated by pretty goddamn goofy voice-overacting; only a few of which, namely a small handful of its many many many conversations about falling in and out of love in the context of long-term relationships, have any heft behind them — make it worth seeking out before it winds up on Netflix Instant, or pretty much watching at all if you suspect you’d rather just rewatch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (scripted by director Spike Jonze director Spike Jonze’s collaborator Charlie Kaufman) instead. Its biggest problem is baked right into its premise: Samantha, the computerized “her” of the title (which weirdly forefronts this computer program’s nature as a nonspecific and inscrutable female, which should set off alarm bells for you right there) is a creature of pure thought and speech, so nearly everything of note in the story is told rather than shown. With the ironic exception of a single, memorable, lengthy cut to black, the film basically never allows its visual component to do any heavy lifting. All the pretty colors, the L.A. cityscapes, the fancy simulated operating systems and video games — it’s all window(s) dressing.


Movie Time: Inside Llewyn Davis

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Or Introducing Bruno Delbonnel, stepping in for MIA cinematographer/genius Roger Deakins and (re)creating the grey winter awfulness of New York City so convincingly it felt less like a lighting scheme and more like a ceiling you might bump your head on. Inside Llewyn Davis, for all its subwaying and roadtripping and general peripateticism, is a claustrophobic film, a film about how having no commitments can root you to the spot just as surely as a square life. It can be seen as the third film in the Coen Brothers’ Trilogy of Calamity, with Barton Fink and A Serious Man, but here the calamity is ongoing, not a new thing that starts with a move to Hollywood or the sudden caprice of Hashem. (I suppose you could even squeeze No Country for Old Men in there too if you want, but again, no stumbling across drug money.) Llewyn Davis has been in a folk-scene funk for some time, a depression he shows no signs of exiting. Indeed, a clever bit of editing that could be taken as showing us a pivotal sequence out of order is ever so slightly recut so that we could simply be witnessing subtle variations on the same unending cycle — Sisyphus, Groundhog Day, the Möbius. Certainly the presence of a key figure at film’s end indicates Llewyn’s career will only go so far. The funny thing, the different thing, is that he’d more or less resigned himself to it by that point anyway. He’s not a delusional man, nor does he react to his plight with especially outstanding rage. He’s difficult but not impossible, cruel at times but only when driven to exhaustion by the failure of kindness to produce amicable results. He’s neither a delusional hack nor a tortured genius — he’s a talented guy who knows the limits of his talent but hopes to catch a lucky break. None is forthcoming. Joel and Ethan Coen have made much blacker movies than this one; Inside Llewyn Davis is the Coen Brothers at their greyest.


Movie Time: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Wolf of Wall Street

Friday, December 27th, 2013

There’s an invented scene in Peter Jackson’s second Hobbit movie (SPOILER ALERT, I GUESS) where Thorin & Company fire up the forges of the Lonely Mountain while dodging an awoken and enraged Smaug the Golden. River-like torrents of molten gold pour into a mold of (presumably) Durin, the ur-Dwarf, that’s about the size of a medium-sized office building. Smaug stares at it enraptured until the heat causes it to break form and gush golden death all over the dragon. Wealth, weaponized. Find all the metaphors for a three-film Hobbit adaptation you like in that scene, go ahead, knock yourself out. Certainly this film’s herky-jerky rhythm, and its need to surround every emotional turning point with an invented ten-minute action sequence, will give you plenty of fuel for the fire. But ultimately Smaug rises again from that lake of fire, bellows a mockery of the Dwarves’ attempt at revenge, flies up into the night sky gilded with real actual gold, shakes it off into a million droplets like a sheepdog drying off after a bath, and flies off toward Laketown to burn it to ashes while shrieking “I AM DEATH.” If I get to see something like that at the movies, Peter Jackson can melt down all the rivers of gold he wants.

Wolf was more fun than Good, and I say that as someone whose favorite Martin Scorsese movie is Casino. One of the reasons it feels a bit light in the end is that we never meet any victims of the penny-stock scams at the heart of the thing, just the scammers and their trials and tribulations. In a sense, that’s Scorsese’s approach with GoodFellas and Casino as well, but in those films the characters frequently turn on and kill each other, so you’re made to understand that the criminality has real-life consequences even if only on other criminals. You see victims; they just happen to be the victimizers as well. This, on the other hand, is just DiCaprio and Jonah Hill being really funny for three hours, with tons of naked women and quaaludes. Which I liked, don’t get me wrong, but it’s almost like Scorsese and Terence Winter (Boardwalk Empire impresario, hence a couple of notable BE castmember cameos) went out of their way to reduce the working-class schlubs DiCaprio and his merry men and women stiff to disembodied voices on phones. (EDITED TO ADD: The major exceptions are Belfort’s toddler daughter, whom his inebriated behavior terrorizes, and his second wife, whom at his nadir he physically and sexually assaults; but the rhythm of the sequence in which that occurs is such that its impact is diluted first by her turning her own rape into a way to best and humiliate her husband, then by a transference of Belfort’s threat from her to the kid. Moreover she’s portrayed as so slight a person — no Karen Hill, no Ginger Rothstein — that it’s weirdly unclear how much she’s ultimately fazed by it.) Still, as I said, really funny. A lot of it is a love letter to the grossness of Long Island, which I enjoyed, and of course the idea of just doing a one-to-one transfer of his mafia-movie style and story structure over to Wall Street is scathing and hilarious. Rob Reiner’s introductory scene had me convulsing with laughter, which I’d forgotten is a thing. Jon Bernthal erases the stink of The Walking Dead every second he’s on screen, so wholly does he commit to his ridiculous Jewish-goombah drug-dealer character. There are close-ups of Hill’s face, and an entire ‘lude-dosed fight scene, that could have come straight out of Tim & Eric’s Billion-Dollar Movie. It’s a pleasure to see Scorsese work with DiCaprio in full charismatic movie-star mode versus the aging-babyface anger he forefronted in, say, Gangs of New York and The Departed. And he’s making an argument that the best sociopaths extend their little reality bubble outward to a few trusted associates — do that and you can get away with almost literally anything. Wolves hunt best in packs.


Vorpalizing

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been a busy boy on Vorpalizer, the blog of the Science Fiction Book Club, as usual.

In my Webcomic Wednesday series, I wrote about the art of Heather Benjamin (which I obviously love) and The Long Journey by Boulet, empty calories but tasty, and “About the Author” by Pete Toms (“Repetition works, David. Repetition works, David.”).

And in my Roots and Beginnings series, I talked about The Goonies, bullying, and escapism, and (via art by Sam Bosma) my greatest D&D experience ever.


Movie Time: Only God Forgives

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

Only God Forgives is director Nicholas Winding Refn’s own Drive reaction video. The middle-aged foreign not-white cop we’re trained to think will be the villain is in fact the one who’s heroically doling out street justice, hurting only those who hurt others. He’s the Driver. The strong, silent, handsome, blond American interloper is no white savior, and he’s only even the villain accidentally, if at all. Mainly he’s a sad and ineffectual patsy, cannon fodder caught up in the larger struggle between the hero and Kristin Scott Thomas’s Tiamat figure. (Refn’s solution to making particular character troubling in that particular way is to run right at it; the last time we see her, Gosling has his hand in her fucking womb.) It’s like Refn picked us up from where we were standing at the end of Drive, moved us a couple windows over, and showed us the same thing, using our knowledge of narrative convention to show how heroism and horror are a matter of perspective.


“So be it…Jedi.”

Saturday, May 4th, 2013

I wrote six or seven little essays about Star Wars for the May the Fourth festivities over at my dayjob tumblr, Vorpalizer. They’ll be rolling out all day long. Check ‘em out.


Movie Time: Contagion

Friday, January 11th, 2013

On a whim I started watching Steven Soderbergh’s 2011 viral-epidemic disaster film Contagion at midnight last night. I can’t say that’s a great idea: It kept me up way past my bedtime, and when you’re a tired father pretty much the last thing you want to see when staying up past your bedtime is the grayfaced corpse of a little boy in his pajamas, which is something you see within this film’s first, I don’t know, ten minutes. Keep repeating, “It’s only a movie…it’s only a movie…”

It’s very much a movie, in fact, a nice little disaster picture of modest ambition and tight execution. The Soderberghian excesses that Traffic trained me to look for were there: fathers freaking out about their blonde daughters risking their health by having sex, technocrats discovering their souls when It Happens To Them, sentimentalized poors, overscoring. But Soderbergh’s primary ambition is twofold: to make a movie out of that amazing chapter in The Stand that follows the virus from hand to hand and object to object across the country, and then to pull the world back from the brink of apocalypse. I admire a movie that has such specific goals and trims away so much fat in their pursuit.

Soderbergh uses his repertory company of very famous actors to strong effect, killing some pretty blondes for that Psycho effect and thus training us to wait for the deaths of all the main characters, many of which then fail to come. He leaves a lot of loose ends like that: one character collates interviews for a report we never see, another exits safety for danger and we never see that what happens when they arrive, another takes a grave but secret personal risk and we never know if they pay for it. There’s a portentous off-screen character we never meet, there’s a sweet and sappy resolution for a young character the architect of which never gets to witness, there’s a Devlin MacGregor-style megacorporation dog that doesn’t really ever bite, and on and on. The handoffs between storylines happen so quickly and are edited with such aplomb that the loose ends feel like deliberate signal-sending: This isn’t where the story ends, it’s just where it stops. By looping back to the very very beginning in the film’s final scene, Contagion even not-so-subtly suggests that it could start again at any moment. Thus the grim watch-the-car-crash catharsis of a good apocalypse flick and the triumph-over-nature catharsis of a good disaster flick are welded together inseparably, leaving you turning the thing over and over in your mind, trying to find the right angle to determine what it is you just watched. It’s a neat little trick in a neat little movie.


13 Things You Need to Know About “The Hobbit”

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

I wrote a quick-and-dirty guide to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey for Rolling Stone. Between the source material, the adaptation process, the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, the new 48fps 3D technology, the expansion into a new trilogy, and just generally trying to make a good movie, there’s a ton of stuff going on when you watch this thing, and this piece was my attempt to make sense of it all for everyone before they hit the theater—what to watch for and pay attention to and ignore.

The movie is awesome, by the way. Lord of the Rings Season Two. Anyone who tells you otherwise hates joy. Does anybody remember laughter?


Things you should know about “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2″

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

* The Bunk is in this movie. Yes, from The Wire. He has a scene as a P.I. and fixer for the vampire who used to be a Confederate soldier.

* The guy who played the “bing bang bong” annoying catchphrase incompetent teenage forensic examiner who turned into a serial killer and ruined the show on SVU is in this movie. He plays Dracula, who is gay and an albino.

* Lee Pace from Tumblr and Mirkwood is in this movie. He plays a vampire who fought in the American Revolution (on the American side, this time). He is scruffy and edgy. Many of the vampires have special powers; when my wife asked me what his was supposed to be I said “Sexiness.”

* Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are in this movie, as contractually required. They could not look or sound more miserable about it. Whatever the truth about their offscreen romantic relationship, they so clearly do not enjoy making these movies anymore, and it’s not like their joy radiated from the screen to begin with. The result is an almost magnetic anti-chemistry anytime they’re required to act sexy or romantic toward one another. Here are two very attractive people (well, I’ll take your word for it on RPatz, whose at this point I can’t see without seeing a million parodies of how he looks, but KStew is a Top 10 Pleasant to Look At Human Beings Worldwide entrant) who we know have fucked in real life, but you put them together and each of them looks like they’ve been forced into close proximity with a person whose 24-hour stomach virus they’re trying to avoid catching.

* That said, their sex scene was marvelously shot and surprisingly hot for a PG-13 flick geared toward tweens and their parents. Obviously they can’t show any nudity or have too much grunting and panting and moaning and gasping (that’s what On the Road is for), so what they did is stitch the scene together from all but abstracted close-ups of hands and mouths making contact with bare skin. It didn’t quite overcome the follow-up pillow-talk scene where they unconvincingly talk about how they plan to be so disgustingly sexual with one another at all times that the rest of their vampire family will have to stay away from them for a decade, but in the moment it worked.

* By contrast, the third wheel in the triangle, or whatever, Taylor Lautner, seemed happy to be there as always. I’m not sure I would, if my part required me to be a werewolf who falls in love with a baby, which is what happens. So yeah, if you’re going to hold abysmal stupidity against a film, then yes, Breaking Dawn – Part 2 is a bad movie in that there are almost no words to describe how idiotic and repulsive and braindead it is to have a werewolf fall in love with a baby. But blame the truly demented sexual politics of Stephenie Meyer, not Lautner, who sorta sells it as yet another weird thing about his biology he has to come to terms with and explain to others on top of the whole “turning into a giant wolf sometimes” bit. It doesn’t work, but he tries.

* He also makes the most out of his character’s admirably direct method of convincing Kristen Stewart’s character Bella’s dad that the supernatural exists: telling him he’s about to show him something weird, then stripping down to his underpants and transforming into a giant wolf in the guy’s backyard. The scene’s meant to read like an over-the-top spoof of coming out and propositioning a guy, doubly so because the guy has a Village People cop mustache and Lautner pings one’s gaydar like that one scene in Aliens where all of a sudden they’re in the crawlspace above the ceiling. I’ll be honest: If I were the dad and suddenly Lautner’s ridiculous physique were all up in my face, I’d consider it.

* Michael Sheen plays the main evil vampire. Michael Sheen is a hero, a legend. It’s as though all the fun the series’ leads should have been having got stored up, poured into a syringe, and injected into his aorta. He chews scenery until chunks of it spray from his mouth like the Cookie Monster. At one point he laughs like Truman Capote doing an impression of Woody Woodpecker. He kills a major character, holds up his severed head, and smiles in the most “U MAD?” gif-able way imaginable. He makes the movie, even the series. I want him to take tea with Tom Hardy’s Bane.

* I’m not going to spoil it, but the twist ending is so fucking shameless in how it forces the audience to discount pivotal and even devastating information it had recently received that it races right past “cheating” and “cop-out” and blasts off into “I’ve really gotta fucking hand it to you, Breaking Dawn – Part 2” territory. Audacious doesn’t even begin to describe it. I’d heard about it before hand, because with this series who cares about spoilers, and assumed I’d hate the whole film because of it, but it’s so crazy that I sat there like Bobby Baccala gazing at Junior Soprano: “I’m in awe of you.”

* Hearing an audience of low-level Twihards (we saw it the day after Thanksgiving) react with total shock and dismay to the run-up to the ending was wondrous and life-affirming, and I don’t mean that in terms of schadenfreude at all. This film moved and stunned and horrified them when they didn’t expect it. That’s a great thing to be able to do, and to see happen from the outside.

* The aftermath of the twist couldn’t be more open about its real goal if the studio head wandered out on camera holding up a sign reading “STEPHENIE, PLEASE WRITE SOME SEQUELS.”

* The opening credits, lovely lovely time-lapse macro photography of roses and blood and ice crystals and so on, were better than the comparable, much-lauded Skyfall opening credits. They segued nicely into a strong depiction of what vampires’ enhanced senses feel like, too — in other words they smartly saved the need to literally represent or tie into the story until after they were over.

* No Anna Kendrick.

* That Mike guy’s been funny too, but he’s not in it either.

* The closing credits show all the main characters from all five movies. They show the redheaded vampire that they recast with Bryce Dallas Howard twice, once for each actress.

* There’s a scene in which two of the other prominent werewolves are gathered at a little Christmas party at Bella’s dad’s house, and instead of re-hiring the actors who played them previously, the film just took extras and sat them with their backs to us and gave them no lines but had the other characters speak to them.

* In order to keep Bella and Edward’s rapidly aging vampire-human hybrid child consistent with the child actress who plays her at her oldest, the baby/toddler/young child versions have superimposed CGI faces. Again, if you’re going to hold abysmal stupidity against a film, I can hardly stop you here.

* There are multiple vampires from the Amazon basin who show up in the snowy Pacific northwest in their loincloths and stay that way for the duration. There’s a little trio of vampires from Ireland who look like they came from a Hallmark Channel movie about Ireland. The vampire ladies from Egypt are very pretty. Dakota Fanning is very pretty.

* The big battle happens because the good vampires know the bad vampires, who’ve mistaken their vampire-human hybrid daughter for a child they’ve illegally turned into a vampire, wouldn’t listen if they tried to explain the truth. Based on that assumption, the bulk of the movie happens: gathering allies, training to use their powers, the final confrontation itself. Guess what the bad vampires do the moment they show up and the good vampires try to explain the truth? Here’s a hint: They listen. Oh, shoot, that was the answer.

* There’s a genuinely horrifying flashback sequence in which a blood-covered vampire child is snatched from the body-strewn ruins of the medieval town he just destroyed, his sobbing vampire mother is killed in front of him, her body is lit on fire, and he’s unceremoniously tossed into the flames. He’s like five years old. It’s like Tyler Durden spliced in that one scene from Hostel Part 2 all of a sudden.

* Here’s what I thought of Twilight and New Moon and Eclipse; I didn’t write about Breaking Dawn – Part 1 because it was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, all but unwatchable even with help from RiffTrax. In that movie a superstrong vampire fetus pulverizes Bella’s spine and guttyworks from within, so Edward has to perform an emergency c-section by tearing through her superstrong placenta with his teeth. There’s also a getting-ready-for-sex montage that shows Bella brushing her teeth, and a “no sex please we’re cross-species lovers” montage in which they sit around wasting time and being bored in different ways. Abysmal stupidity opponents, you know the drill.

* This movie, though? The series’ one true camp classic, the one where you could watch it independent of a packed theater and actually have fun with the good-badness of it. We left the theater amazed to be glad to have seen it.