New Twilight film moves into adult territory

2011-11-17 11:17

It’s not every movie that spawns a camp of fans who brave the elements for five days and nights just to see their idols saunter past on their way to the world premiere.

But such is the devotion inspired by the Twilight series of vampire dramas that hundreds of teenage girls and more than a handful of their mothers did just that this week outside the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles, where the vampire romance Twilight: Breaking Dawn was set to make its world debut.

Based on the massively successful book series by Stephanie Meyer, the Twilight film franchise has been a standout cultural phenomenon since the first movie hit the screens in 2008, with the first three films grossing more than $1.8 billion (about R15 billion) worldwide.

Breaking Dawn is based on the last book of the Twilight series, but because that novel was so densely packed with breathtaking developments, it was split into two for its Hollywood treatment, with the second instalment due to hit theatres next November.

The story revolves around the wedding of the beautiful human Bella Swan, played by Kristen Stewart, to glamorous vampire Edward Cullen, played by Robert Pattinson. That’s too bad for Bella’s former love interest Jacob (Taylor Lautner), who’s left howling like the shape shifting wolf that he is.

Problems arise when Bella becomes pregnant with a fast-developing half-human, half-vampire hybrid, which necessitates such niceties as her having to drink litres of human blood to feed the fetus.

But critics contend that apart from a few genuinely dramatic movements, the movie has been generously padded out, probably to allow the producers to get two box office jackpots from the final Twilight book.

“So little else occurs in between these momentous events in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn-Part 1 that you can practically hear every second ticking by while awaiting the payoff,” according to trade paper the Hollywood Reporter.

Its rival Variety was just as damning. “Bella Swan kisses abstinence and mortality goodbye,” noted Variety’s Justin Chang. “All the more disappointing, then, that a story so pregnant with dramatic possibilities should wind up feeling like such an unconsummated opportunity. The film is rich in surface pleasures but lacks any palpable sense of darkness or danger.”

Twihards, as fans of the series are known, probably care little for the opinions of mainstream critics.

Hollywood estimates foresee the film keeping pace with its predecessor in the series, Twilight: Eclipse, which took in $698 million worldwide.

For the opening weekend alone the film is projected to earn between $125 million and $142 million, according to a report today by industry trade site Deadline.com.

The film has already sold out over 3 000 showings in advance ticket sales and is on track to match the box office figures of Harry Potter.

It has amassed some 75 million viewings of its trailer, and 25 million Facebook fans, many of whom are no doubt breathlessly awaiting the hundreds of midnight screenings that will usher the film into the public view.

The film is certainly packed with more adult themes than its three predecessors, which revolved around the innocent angst of a teenage love triangle that is complicated by the minor complication that two of the protagonists are not human.

This time around we have the loss of Bella’s virginity in a rough sex scene and the subsequent grappling with abortion issues when the half-breed fetus threatens her life.

“You spend three movies setting up the absolute, terrifying fear of sex,” said Pattinson. “Then in this one, you have sex, and there are devastating consequences.”

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