July 2, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Kristen Stewart, Rob Pattinson, Taylor Lautner
Directed by: David Slade (“30 Days of Night”)
Written by: Melissa Rosenberg (“New Moon”)

“The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” has a few factors working in its favor that the two prior installments were sorely lacking. With more humor, feasible action scenes, and less-tacky romantic interludes, the teenage vampire-werewolf pairing manages to give the series a bit more entertainment value than before right at its midway point. It’s just too bad the actors still have to open their mouths and actually say things.

In “Eclipse,” jealousy hits an all-time high as vampire hunk Edward Cullen (Rob Pattinson) and wolf boy Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) continue to vie for the love of human Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart).

This time, however, the monster men must put their detestation for one another on hold and team up so they can protect Bella from killer vampiress (Bryce Dallas Howard who takes the role over from Rachelle Lefevre) and a brand new threat she has formed. An army of vampires led by Riley (Xavier Samuel), a missing college student from Seattle, has been transformed by Victoria and sent out to recruit “newborn” bloodsuckers.

“Twilight” fanatics will be pleased to know that while the cast doubles in size in the newest film, the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob still takes precedence over any additional plots that keep the saga moving forward. Along with the tweeny melodrama, Bella continues where she left off in “New Moon” and still longs for Edward to make her immortal.

Directed by David Slade (“Hard Candy,” “30 Days of Night”), “Eclipse” is the best of the franchise. That, however, doesn’t say much since “Twilight” and “New Moon” – despite raking in hundreds of millions of dollars and being adored by a committed fan base that actually think Stephanie Meyer’s books are well written – are nothing more than the equivalent of a supernatural Disney Channel-type show.

While darker and a bit less ridiculous that the first two movies, “Eclipse” is still adapted from sappy source material into a tired script by screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg. “Eclipse” – along with its next two installments – won’t have any trouble reeling in the alliance of screaming teenage girls and creepy moms that are already hooked, but no amount of Robert Frost poetry (“Fire and Ice” is recited in the opening scene) or ripped abdominals has made this sexless, angst-driven fad a memorable franchise thus far.

30 Days of Night

June 6, 2007 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Josh Hartnett, Melissa George, Danny Huston
Directed by: David Slade (“Hard Candy”)
Written by: Steven Niles (debut), Stuart Beattie (“Collateral”) and Brian Nelson (“Hard Candy”)

In 2006, one of the most overlooked films of the year was also one of the most intense, distressing, and surprising thrillers imaginable. That film was called “Hard Candy,” and followed the twisted mind of a 14-year-old girl who is looking for revenge against a pedophile. The film was more so gratifying through its unsympathetic storytelling because it was made by David Slade, a first-time director. For those of us who go a chance to see the film, a new director seemed to be on the rise.

So, when Slade was announced to be at the helm of the graphic novel and vampire story “30 Days of Night,” one could only imagine how it would be time for the American-made horror film to get a much-needed boost by an exciting new filmmaker. Boy, were we dead wrong.

We won’t say Slade won’t come back to redeem himself (he just might surprise us again) but with “30 Days,” the legend of the vampire is not revamped in any way and simply plays out like any other monster movie made in the last five years. Just because it’s set on a beautiful Alaskan backdrop doesn’t necessarily mean it has improved the idea of the iconic characters.

The story begins in a remote town in Alaska where the sun has just set and will not return for an entire month. With no sunlight in the area, a group of raging vampires find their way to the snow-covered wasteland where they will have more than enough time to feast on humans before any sunrise. Josh Hartnett (“Resurrecting the Champ”) plays Eben Oslen, the town law enforcement, who watches as the vampires pick off citizens of the town one by one. Melissa George (“Turistas”) is Eben’s ex-girlfriend, who has missed the last flight out of the area and must now join forces with the small group of humans that remain to fend off the bloodthirsty gang of vamps.

In probably one of the most unconvincing roles in his career Danny Huston (“The Aviator”) takes on the role of Marlow, the leader of the neck-sucking demons who dress in black and scream like banshees when they’re ready to feed. The sounds that come out of their mouths are not as scary as they are annoying.

Dull, unoriginal and mindlessly written, “30 Days of Night” at first seems like its going for something as classic as John Carpenter’s 1982 masterpiece “The Thing” because of it’s setting and tone, but ends up more like John Carpenter’s dismal 1998 flick “Vampires.” Who really needs more of that?