(PG-13 for some violence, frightening action): To paraphrase poetess Lindbergh, it would be like taking a baseball bat to a butterfly to out-&-out condemn this flick, and yet - all those swoony young girls that have made it the box office hit of the decade excepted - anyone with a modicum of intelligence would discount this movie, hands down.
This second film installment of Stephenie Meyer's "Twilight" series takes a plunge to new levels. It's a soap opera, folks, pure & simple - beautifully filmed all lush like a soaper, acted like a soaper, with all the romantic reality of a soaper. But a soaper for young impressionable femmes, with all emotional stops let out. Egad, 130+ minutes of lushly mounted, lushly shot in lush northwestern settings - agonizing to anyone who stops to think about what's going on here!
Not only is everything over-lushy, it's also hyped up: the moonlight is saturating, the voices in soft, throaty whispers, the forest critters wild beyond belief, the angst - wow, the angst! - subtlety is not for this world.
Story: in simple terms, a love triangle between Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart with the Jane Russell pout) & the two loves in her life, Edward Cullen (vampire teen Robert Pattinson forever looking like a sad mime in glitter & white paint) & Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner, all dark sinew with flaming eyes & flashing teeth) - the sentient muse who talks & the acrimonious buddy who acts. Which should she pick? Actually, whichever one is near. After all sorts of witchery, dunkings, chases from vampires & werewolves - she is asked if she would marry the somber vampire. Blackout.
Everything is geared, perfectly, toward the soap opera mode: Melissa Rosenberg's script reeks with melodrama ("If this is about my soul, take it; I don't want it anymore.") Chris Weitz directs along the same lines; all that is missing is the limp wrist to the brow, the roll of eyes, the gnashing of teeth.
There are plenty of unintentional chuckles here - for us uncouth, uncaring people: Jacob & his buddies flaunting their rippling, muscular chests at every possible moment, the oh-so-serious climactic statement, "Ya gotta learn ta love what's good fer ya" or the tossed off, "Maybe I'm crazy, but that's OK." It also gets a little repetitive when Robert's ghostly image appears time & again to save Bella from a fate worse than sitting through this twice - each time, ignoring him & getting taught a lesson. Doesn't the girl have any brains at all?
Doesn't anyone passionately engrossed in this all-emotional melodrama have any brains at all? (Grade: D+)