I enjoy vampire stuff, but it’s ironic that the teen romance elements drawing so many fans to the Twilight “saga” is the thing that turns me off the series (I guess it’s not that ironic, since I’m not a tween girl). After watching New Moon, I wasn’t eager to catch up with the human-vampire-werewolf love triangle. In the Team Jacob vs. Team Edward debate, I had no allegiances. Nevertheless, I was swayed by early reviews raved that this third installment was the best so far. Despite the still-high quantities of tortured young love, there were many exciting elements that make for a fun vampire movie.
Evil vampire Victoria returns, having changed into someone who looks more like Bryce Dallas Howard than the original Rachelle Lefevre (sorry, Canadian girl, you’re out). This time she’s raising an army of “newborn” vampires to take vengeance on Bella and Edward (since he killed her beloved James in the first movie). In the meantime, Bella struggles with saying goodbye to the people in her life as she nears her graduation — the time she’s chosen not only for departing high school but also this mortal coil, becoming a vampire in order to be with Edward forever. Throw in one randy young werewolf and frankly I’m surprised that there wasn’t even more teen angst. Give me more tender conversations while lying side-by-side in a field of flowers!
It’s actually a bit odd that in the first movie, which had a more natural style (courtesy of director Catherine Hardwicke), Kristen Stewart’s choppy, hesitant performance fit much better than the melodrama typically found in both vampire and teen movies. However, by now a lot more plot and action are involved. The vampires, werewolves all seem to strike poses, make speeches (especially Dakota Fanning, who returns as the Volturi pain-maker, Jane), glare at each other, and little Kristen seems very much out of her element.
Besides the action that has been amped up, I also enjoyed the flashbacks to vampires Rosalie and Jasper’s origin stories. Not only did they serve to deepen the Twilight mythology, but they added much-needed dimension to some supporting characters. Also enjoyable was the account of the Quileute tribe’s first meeting with vampires and how the encounter shaped their destinies even to the present day.
Of course, everything is leading to the climactic showdown between Team Victoria and the combined vampire and werewolf forces. Despite the still-artificial look of the big CGI wolves, the scene was pretty well done — lots of quick cuts, lots of leaping, and lots of (thankfully bloodless) decapitations and dismemberment. All in all, I would agree with the critics who say that this is the best of the series. Since I stopped reading the novels, I don’t really know where the story is going to go, but let’s hope that the movies keep things running at this rate. (4 out of 5)