(I"m writing this at 12:49 in the morning, fresh from my jaunt from Los Angeles after watching "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" so if I may sound a bit blurry, I am! Oh, and there may be spoilers as well.)
Previously on "Twilight," Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), the human, falls in love with Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), the vampire. They fight bad vampires and they live happily ever after.
Now is the dawn of "New Moon," the sequel to the super-popular franchise based on a series of books by author Stephenie Meyer. The sequel begins with Bella's birthday and ends with her quest for immortality. At the center of the film is a love triangle between a human, a vampire, and a werewolf.
The movie's first five minutes is vibrant and full of life. Ironically enough, Bella's mortality is the crux of the film. In her dream, more like a nightmare (and she has many of those), Bella gets very old while Edward remains dashing and gasp, young!
Told in three acts, the first chapter involves Edward leaving Bella because he wants to protect her; The second act features Bella slowly falling in love with her best friend, Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who, as we all know by now, is a werewolf.
The third chapter of the film, and my personal favorite, involves an organized coven of vampires known as the Volturis headed by Aro played by Michael Sheen. The actor has now officially played both vampire and werewolf ("Underworld" films) roles. There's also a fun bit with Dakota Fanning as Jane, the bratty vampire who can inflict pain without even touching her victim.
There's been a lot of buzz about the two camps -- Team Jacob and Team Edward. Well, if you like your man tanned with a sunny attitude and you believe that friendship can turn to love, then heck, Team Jacob is for you.
If you love your man pale with a brooding attitude and you subscribe to the theory of love at first sight, then by all means, stake a claim to Team Edward.
But be warned Team Edward members, there's not a whole lot of Edward in the film. In the middle part of the movie, Edward has been reduced to being a "ghost of Christmas past" warning Bella of possible dangers.
Director Chris Weitz replaced Catherine Hardwicke, but honestly, I didn't notice any difference. The "Harry Potter" franchise has used different directors before and you could tell Mike Newell's ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") style over Alfonso Cuaron's ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban"), for example.
Hardwicke abruptly left pre-production last year and Weitz stepped in, and I thought, okay, this is interesting, let me see his take on the franchise. Well folks, there's not a whole lot of difference, just perhaps a bigger budget and better Edward glitter (vampires glitter under the sun).
I've read the first book, so logic tells us that I should be able to get into these characters right? Well, I still can't empathize with any of the main characters.
The acting borders between so-so and good, more in the so-so category. I've seen Stewart and Pattinson in other films before, and I've admired their work, but there's always something off-key with their performances in the "Twilight" films.
Once in a while, there's a burst of good acting that can be detected, and this time, Stewart out-broods Pattinson. Her character is the one with a lot of baggage in the new film.
Like the last film, I'm blaming the script by Melissa Rosenberg. Although it matched the book's tone, including some of the hokey dialogue, it failed to match its spirit. There's also the pedantic melodramatic Romeo and Juliet plot twist near the end.
But I'd be lying to you if I told you I wasn't entertained. I was interested in the mythology that Meyer created with the series, and most of these myths are reflected on the sequel.
And it was delight to see bad vampires and fierce werewolves!
I also love the great soundtrack and the peripheral characters. The standouts are Billy Burke as Charlie Swan, Bella's dad; Anna Kendrick as Jessica, Bella's friend from school; Ashley Greene as Alice, Edward's sister and the closest to Bella.
Even Nikki Reed as Rosalie Hale showed some depth with just a couple of scenes.
But who are we kidding here, the teenage girls will enjoy this film. And I think, that's one of my main concerns as well. The movie caters to its demographics way too much that it alienates other viewers -- here comes Edward in his slo-mo sexy walk (teens scream), or Jacob takes off his shirt (teens scream again!).
And the teens will definitely scream in the end with its cliffhanger finale. It will also get you, because it will make you want to see the third film. And isn't that the whole point?
Bottomline: Forgive its pandering to its demographics and you'll have a great time. Of course, if you like the first film and you enjoy the books, you will love this movie.
RATING: Vampires vs. Werewolves kisses
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Lee Daniels is my new favorite director right now. He mesmerized me with his flick "Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire."
Last month, we told you that the director was in talks to direct the movie version of the musical "Miss Saigon," now, Daniels is in serious negotations to helm "Selma."
Variety told us that "Selma" will trace the historic 1965 march in the Alabama town that marked the political and emotional peak of the civil rights movement.
The script is written by Paul Webb ("Lincoln") and I heard that it's fantastic!
There's no cast attached yet, but production is set to begin early spring.
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Jennifer Hudson, the Oscar-winner and ex-American idol contestant, is getting ready for her next big challenge -- playing "Winnie," the former wife of South Africa's first black president, Nelson Mandela.
Darrell J. Roodt is set to direct. Roodt previously helmed 2006's "Yesterday," and also worked on "Cry, the Beloved Country" and "Sarafina!"
Based on Anna Marie du Preez Bezdrob's biography "Winnie Mandela:A Life," Andre Pieterse, Roodt, and Paul L. Johnson collaborated on the script.
Variety is reporting that Mandela's "former wife is a far more complicated figure. She has been depicted as the mother and wife who was a steadfast supporter of her activist husband and who was jailed herself for campaigning for his release and fighting against apartheid. Her image was subsequently tarnished by association with a bodyguard who murdered a 14-year old alleged informer, and she was later convicted of fraud."
The filmmakers are saying they will the whole story, good and bad.
Producting begins May 30 in Johannesburg, Capt Town, and the Transkei and Robben Island. Hudson is expected to sing the film's theme song.
Another Mandela-centric film is set to open this December. Morgan Freeman will play Nelson Mandela in the Clint Eastwood film "Invictus."
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Eric Dane aka Dr. McSteamy is joining the cast of the musical "Burlesque!" He will be joining Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci, Cam Gigandet, Kristen Bell and Alan Cumming.
The film is written and will be directed by Steve Antin.
"Burlesque" tells the story of Ali, a small-town girl (Aguilera) with a big voice who becomes the toast of the town after appearing in a Los Angeles neo-burlesque club.
Cher will co-star as Tess, a former dancer who takes the small town girl under her wing. Stanley Tucci will play the manager of the club and the best friend of Tess.
Dane will play Marcus, Ali's knight in shining armor who offers to buy Tess out of the burlesque club.
"Burlesque" is set for release Thanksgiving 2010.
Stanley Tucci Goes "Burlesque" with Cher and Christina Aguilera
Cher Joins Christina Aguilera in Musical "Burlesque"
Christina Aguilera to Star in Titillating Musical "Burlesque"
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Stuart Townsend, Ray Stevenson, and Tadanobu Asano are joining the cast of "Thor" to play Warrior's Three, a trio of Asgardian warriors who fight alongside Thor, our favorite Norse god.
Kenneth Branagh is directing the Marvel Entertainment action-adventure.
Townsend will play Fandral ala who looks seriously like Errol Flynn, Stevenson will star as Volstagg the Valiant,the hard-living brawler, and Asano will play Hogun the Grim, the traveling companion of Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth.
Anthony Hopkins is set to play Odin, the King of Asgard and the father of Thor and Loki, played by Tom Hiddelston. Natalie Portman will be playing Thor's love, Jane Foster.
The production will be lensing this January and Paramount Pictures will release "Thor" on May 20, 2011.
Jaimie Alexander, Colm Feore Joining "Thor"
Natalie Portman to Nurse "Thor"
Who's Going to Star as "Thor" Villain Loki?
Captain Kirk's Father to Star as "Thor?"
Who Should Play "Thor?" Meet the Wannabes!
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