Our verdict on the latest releases
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2
Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan
The sullen teen vampire phenomenon finally draws to a close with Breaking Dawn Part 2 – and not a moment too soon. Proving there was no real need – beyond huge financial incentives – to split Stephanie Meyer’s final book in two, the film feels horribly stretched, propelling Bella, Edward and their ridiculously named child Renesmee towards a showdown with Michael Sheen’s head vampire Aro with all the urgency of a sloth.
With minimal plot to work through, the film plugs the gaps by serving up lots of montages of Bella trying out her new vampire powers, tedious meeting scenes involving various vampire clans talking about their history, and obligatory shots of Taylor Lautner’s Jacob once again showing off his abs before transforming into a poorly rendered CGI werewolf. Of the other main cast members, Kristen Stewart looks bored throughout, and Robert Pattinson – who’s already worked with David Cronenberg and is pairng up with Werner Herzog next – looks positively livid that he’s still contractually obliged to be appear in this slop.
Sheen, meanwhile, maniacally laughs his way through his scenes – all the way to the bank. The final battle sequence, in which multiple heads are decapitated but no blood is spilled, is almost worth seeing for how amusingly awful it is (particularly its Dallas-style resolution), but the saga will live on now only in camp ignominy.
The affectionate fan tribute, Ray Harryhausen: Special Effects Titan, is distinguished by the fact that the fans paying tribute to the legendary stop-motion artist are among the most successful directors in the world. James Cameron, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson are just some of the many famous filmmakers assembled here to wax lyrical about the impact Harryhausen has had on their careers and, as a result, filmmaking in general.
The 90-year-old Harryhausen certainly seems appreciative of the compliments, even as he gently disparages the emergence of Cameron and co’s favourite toy, CGI. The film, which errs a little too much on the side of sycophancy, doesn’t explore that tension; instead it guides us through his life with puppy-dog zeal. It’s still fascinating stuff, though.
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