Torn be­tween two lovers

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Filmreviews - DON­ALD CLARKE

YES, THERE are prob­lems. You don’t need a PhD in semi­otics to dis­cern an im­plicit ar­gu­ment for sex­ual ab­sti­nence in the first two films based on Stephe­nie Meyer’s teen vam­pire nov­els. True, the man­ner in which Bela Swann, the se­ries’ pre-Raphaelite heroine, sub­mits to any pass­ing myth­i­cal be­ing ges­tures to­wards the gen­der pol­i­tics of feu­dal times.

All this is, to be sure, wor­ry­ing. But you have to ad­mire the way th­ese damp, mumbly films so bril­liantly en­cap­su­late the sulky moods of late ado­les­cence. Both

Twi­light and this, only slightly less ef­fec­tive se­quel of­fer door-slam­ming youths – and girls in par­tic­u­lar – the ul­ti­mate fan­tasy: a uni­verse in which your crushes, moods and funks gen­uinely have mon­u­men­tal sig­nif­i­cance.

That choice be­tween a lunk-headed life­guard and a whey-faced emo kid be­comes a choice be­tween a were­wolf and a vam­pire. Se­lect wisely and you may be granted eter­nal life. Se­lect wrongly and you could be torn to shreds. Don’t let any­one tell you it’ll all seem okay in the morn­ing.

Cather­ine Hard­wicke, di­rec­tor of the first film, got jug­gled out the door in the months fol­low­ing

Twi­light’s colos­sal suc­cess. Hap­pily, Chris Weitz, he of the still­born His

Dark Ma­te­ri­als adap­ta­tion, has de­cided to stick with Hard­wicke’s suc­cess­ful faux-nat­u­ral­is­tic ap­proach. The cam­era doesn’t wag­gle quite as much, but the char­ac­ters con­tinue to mut­ter and shuf­fle like 14-year-olds wait­ing out­side the head­mas­ter’s of­fice.

This time round, Bela (Kris­ten Ste­wart), af­ter an early de­ser­tion by her vam­pire lover Ed­ward Cullen (Robert Pat­tin­son), falls in with a group of hunky were­wolves – top­less when hu­man, a tad too pixel-heavy when lupine - who can’t quite dis­tract her from star­ing out the win­dow to the strains of post-Ra­dio­head gloom pop. Later there’s some weird, deeply con­fus­ing stuff in Italy with Michael Sheen as a com­bi­na­tion of Kenneth Wil­liams and m’lord Beelze­bub.

It’s point­less to com­plain that the were­wolf trans­for­ma­tions are per­func­tory and the mytho­log­i­cal back-story im­pen­e­tra­ble. The

Twi­light epics are not re­ally hor­ror films. They’re ef­fi­cient au­dio­vi­sual rep­re­sen­ta­tions of hor­mone-driven neu­roses. To put it in the lan­guage of the se­ries’ on­line fans: Harry Pot­ter, like, sucks; Twi­light rules.

Kris­ten Ste­wart meets hunky howler Tay­lor Laut­ner

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