Twilight

Worlds End End

People love a good twist ending. When it’s good, it’s The Sixth Sense. When it’s bad, it’s most of the Shyamalan films that followed. But now twists aren’t just shocking flips of plot that viewers don’t see coming. They’re also those moments where a feature defies one of Hollywood’s many conventions. These days, the courage of conviction rings sweeter than the slickly planned twist. It’s exhilarating to watch filmmakers follow their plan to the end (for good or bad), and it’s promising that they were allowed to do so and not curtailed by a system that wants things just so. (Consider the original plan for Heathers, which would’ve seen everyone die and get a happy ending in Prom Heaven.) Sometimes it’s as simple as fighting the rampant desire for a happy ending and letting characters be miserable or die, and other times it’s daring to not kill anyone at all. Every time I see the trailer for Sex Tape, I find myself hungry for the unexpected. I fear actually seeing the film because in my head, Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel spend half the movie trying to stop people from seeing their sex tape, and then they realize they’re actually closet exhibitionists and don’t care. Even if completely random and absurd, that would beat barreling toward a conclusion that’s obvious from the first trailer. In the meantime, I’ll have these films (and one television show) to sate my unexpected hunger. Beware, the ends of films will be discussed and therefore spoiled.

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Divergent

Like it or not, Hollywood’s current obsession with adapting (any and all, apparently) YA novels to the big screen got its biggest push from the tremendous success of the Twilight novels. The Stephenie Meyer-penned series set the stage for a hefty number of teen-centric (and paranormally influenced) features to go the cinematic route, even as her blockbuster franchise presented a very problematic view of teen romance and sexual obsession (something I touched upon before the first Hunger Games arrived in theaters). In the post-Twilight years, a number of other YA adaptations have arrived, bolstered by big-time romances that often overshadow stories that ostensibly center on youngsters (mainly girls) exploring special powers, from Beautiful Creatures to The Mortal Instruments. Being magical or immortal or witchy or intelligent might be a good thing, but it’s not the most important thing – but that’s starting to change. With the success of both Divergent (less than a week in release, and already headed straight to Franchise Town on a train populated by people who enjoy boarding and disembarking said trains in the most dangerous way possible) and The Hunger Games series, YA adaptations are steadily moving away from making their stories rely on romance, instead focusing on actual power and personal discovery. It’s a nice change for that genre, but it’s also a swift kick to the neck of other action films.

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what we do in the shadows trio

It’s remarkable that vampire mythology can still be mined for great comedy. Just when you think the Seltzer and Friedberg team closed the book on lampooning the creatures of the night and the overabundant amount of movies about them (with a terrible chapter), another duo prove there’s still actually hilarious potential in this subgenre. Jemaine Clement makes his directorial debut alongside occasional collaborator Taiki Waititi (Eagle vs. Shark; Flight of the Conchords) with the mockumentary What We Do In the Shadows, in which they didn’t necessarily find a ton of fresh jokes and gags in the material but still managed to execute each bit to perfection. Even Twilight provides fodder for new laughs here, not so much as parody of the franchise but of an amusing idea around it. The humor there stems from something bigger than vampires to make fun of general trendiness, treating the Edward Cullen character as a kind of hipster asshole in the context of the history of iconic vampires. He’s represented by a newly turned bigmouth (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer) who obnoxiously clings to a foursome of flat mates, one of whom resembles Nosferatu (Ben Fransham), another with a Coppola-style Dracula/Vlad the Impaler thing going on (Clement), a dandyish Anne Rice type (Waititi) and, rounding out the group, a less definable vampire (Jonathan Brugh) who used to be the “young blood” of the group. He has history as an undead Nazi and now takes pleasure in ordering around his human servant (Jackie van Beek) and pranking people with […]

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Oh, Twilight. Just when it seemed we were free from the grip you had on pop culture, with your sexy vampires and sexy werewolves and so much insipid, dead-eyed romance, you find a way to claw back into the spotlight one final time: through the magic of DVD bonus features. And one bonus feature in particular manages to be truly, legitimately frightening – something strangely absent in a series of vampire movies. Exclusive to Yahoo! is a glimpse at “Chuckesmee,” the unfortunately nicknamed and unfortunate-looking abomination that appears at the top of this article. You may remember (and if you don’t, be grateful) that the last two Twilights featured protagonist Bella (Kristen Stewart) giving birth to a soulless bundle of CGI that she dutifully raised until it became human(ish). Well, “Chuckesmee” (a portmanteau of the killer doll Chucky and the embarrassingly awful Twilight moniker Renesmee) was originally how Bella’s vampire progeny was to be portrayed in the films. Go ahead and watch the clip below to see just how unsettling this thing looks in motion.

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Screen Shot 2013-10-08 at 1.07.36 AM

Coming off the highly marketable Twilight movies, director Bill Condon decided to go a bit more mature but stick with a pasty pale figure that strikes fear into the heart of many: Julian Assange. It’s fitting Condon’s approach is radical in its own way. Assange himself has publicly taken issue with the film, and when you see the warts and all portrait, you’ll understand why. Thus far the movie has been as splitting as the man in question. Critics have been mixed, including our own Kate Erbland who reviewed the film at the Toronto International Film Festival, and it’s the reaction Condon expected. It’s probably not the response he wanted, but, as he says, it happens. Condon sat down with us to discuss those responses to the film, as well the battle between great characters and real life.

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Drinking Games

Well, folks, it’s finally over. The Twilight Saga rang its final bell this past weekend with the release of Breaking Dawn: Part II on DVD and Blu-ray. Chances are, the fans out there have already secured a copy and have had it on a continuous loop since it hit the streets. If you happen to be the significant other (or father or super good best friend) with a Twi-hard making you watch the last installment in the franchise, you’ll want to knock back a couple drinks in the process. Raise your glass to the end of an era, an end of a franchise, and an end of body glitter in the multiplex.

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commentary-breakingdawn

Well, Twi-hards, with the release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part II on DVD and Blu-ray this week, the series has come to a final close. (That is, of course, until Lionsgate decides to reboot the franchise or Stephenie Meyer cranks out more stories in this universe. ‘Cause we all know that’s gonna happen soon enough.) To help tie the final two chapters of the saga together, Lionsgate has also released the extended edition of Breaking Dawn – Part I. Both movies feature a commentary by director Bill Condon. Now don’t worry too much. While I (and many of the writers here at Film School Rejects) am not a fan of the series at all, I can respect the fan base. This won’t be a lengthy article goofing on the flaws of the series. Instead, let’s break down what the director has to say about wrapping up the series with a one-two punch of the final book brought to life on the big screen. And on to the commentaries…

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THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN-PART 2

The 33rd annual Golden Raspberry Awards — or Razzies — were held yesterday in Santa Monica, and for the first time in the series’ history, the Twilight Saga took the top (dis)honor of Worst Picture. Excluding the initial installment, each of the Twilight movies have been nominated for this award, but the final sequel, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2, has seemingly been chosen as representative of the whole franchise. Kind of like the negative parallel to how Return of the King won Best Picture for the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy. Breaking Dawn – Part 2 also won Razzies this year for Worst Actress (Kristen Stewart, whose award also credits Snow White and the Huntsman), Worst Supporting Actor (Taylor Lautner), Worst Screen Couple (Lautner and Mackenzie Foy), Worst Director (Bill Condon), Worst Ensemble and Worst Prequel, Remake, Rip-Off or Sequel. It lost its nominees for Worst Actor (Adam Sandler was chosen for That’s My Boy over Robert Pattinson), Worst Supporting Actress (Rihanna won for Battleship over Ashley Greene) and Worst Screenplay (That’s My Boy was preferred). The film had also been up against itself in the Worst Screen Couple category, with Pattinson and Stewart losing to Lautner and Foy.

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warm bodies guys

Warning: the following post contains a bit of a spoiler about the end of Warm Bodies. Read on at your discretion. With a decent opening weekend gross mostly attributed to young, female moviegoers, Warm Bodies is supposedly confirming its status as the new Twilight. Of course, the vampire love story made a lot more money and received mainly negative reviews, while this new zombie romantic comedy (or zom-rom-com), is certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes and received a B+ CinemaScore grade but only earned about a third of what it cost to produce. There’s an expectation for Warm Bodies to have strong legs, however, through word of mouth. And hopefully that buzz extends to more male viewers, who should appreciate that it’s not as sappy as it seems, even though its main message is the cheesiest of cheesy: “love conquers evil.” Sure, we’ve seen the power of love employed as a weapon by The Beatles and to turn Darth Vader and to keep The Princess Bride‘s Westley alive, but over time the idea that “all you need is love” has become corny enough to ruin the ends of Ghostbusters II and The Fifth Element, among others, with too much sentiment.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

While many would like to think that snark was something born of the Internet age, the fact that the Razzie Awards for Worst Achievements in Film are now in their thirty-third year pretty demonstrably proves that to be untrue.  There’s an uncomfortable truth at the center of all this, which is, to snark, to pass judgment, to make fun of things that fail publicly and spectacularly—it’s all kind of fun, at least in a sick way. If it wasn’t, something like The Razzies wouldn’t be able to stick around this long. In recent years, however, the film industry’s laser focus on building franchises and sticking to the same formulas has taken a little bit of the fun out of seeing who gets picked on for being the worst of the year. A crop of usual suspects has developed, making the announcement that the latest Twilight movie and the latest Adam Sandler comedy have earned the lion’s share of the nominations something of a tedious formality. So, here we are, having yet again sat through another Twilight movie and another Adam Sandler comedy, and, sure enough, it seems that they’ve once again gotten the bulk of the nominations. If there’s any new narrative going on, it’s that Madea’s Witness Protection seems to have annoyed the people who vote for the Golden Raspberries more than usual. Perhaps that’s due to Jack & Jill making men in drag a more contemptible offense after last year, or perhaps it’s because they’re trying to set […]

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Gary Oldman and Michael K Williams

What is Movie News After Dark? Tonight, it’s beside itself… We begin this evening with a photo of Gary Oldman and Michael K. Williams on the set of Robocop, in which they both will undoubtedly bring their usual level of quality. It’s unrivaled, the sort of awesome that exists in this one still image. The only thing that could possibly be better would be some sort of random, inexplicable Peter Weller photobomb. But lets just leave that up to the photoshoppers, shall we?

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The Ingredients is a column devoted to breaking down the components of a new film release with some focus on influential movies that came before. As always, these posts look at the entire plots of films and so include SPOILERS.  By the end of Breaking Dawn — Part 2, it’s clear that the Twilight Saga, as one long story about vampires, werewolves and a chaste teenage girl, is first and foremost a romance picture. This may not sound like a revelation, but in the past four years we’ve all looked at the series in terms of how it transcends the traditional “chick flick” ghetto to dabble in elements of superhero and horror genres, potentially wooing male moviegoers in the process. Interestingly enough, the finale features a sequence that is very much aimed at fans of genre cinema just before pulling a 180 and concluding with an ending that the same audience will find mushy and sappy as (their personal) hell. While romance figures into most film genres and even dominates the conventional Hollywood denouement for movies no matter what audience is targeted, most of these features are not classifiably romance pictures. The love stories are secondary or even tertiary in importance to plots primarily concerned with adventure or disaster or some treatment of good versus evil. And although there are antagonists strewn throughout the Twilight films, there aren’t really good guys and bad guys in proper terms. Instead there is simply love and family versus threat to love and family. […]

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

This week saw the countdown to the end of the Twilight movies, though we didn’t pay it much attention. Kevin gave us a drinking game to play while watching the whole series in marathon form, but that’s it. Maybe we were all too busy still appreciating the greatness of the latest James Bond — a series that fortunately didn’t conclude after only five installments — or skipping through to wonder about the future, as in whether The Mortal Instruments is the new Twi-like sensation. We did, of course, review the final Twilight Saga film, and we remind and invite you to check out that and other reviews of new releases (The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2; Lincoln; Anna Karenina; Price Check) as well as an interview with Anna Karenina director Joe Wright. We also watched a lot of trailer, including new spots for The Host (from Twi-lit author Stephenie Meyer), Oz: The Great and Powerful, The ABCs of Death (Red Band) and, yeah, The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. We also saw some short films that readers seem to have enjoyed a lot, including The Sleepover and Dragon Baby. Now, check out our biggest and best stories and original content from the past week after the break.

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The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2

As someone who’s somehow resisted the pull of Stephenie Meyer‘s Twilight books but has seen all five films, I feel confident saying the first three movies (Twilight, New Moon and Eclipse) exist on a sliding scale of awfulness. They’re bland, lacking in anything resembling emotion or humanity, poorly acted, terribly written and insulting to the concepts of free will, family, gender equality, canine care, individuality and love itself. Breaking Dawn Part 1 changed some of that for the better. The themes were still offensive to rational people who prefer a uterus be connected to a functioning and free-spirited brain, but director Bill Condon managed to inject a degree of humor and zaniness to the proceedings that embraced the entertainment value inherent in the story but missing from the earlier films. Basically, he made it fun. And thankfully, he returned to helm part 2. To recap part 1, Bella (Kristen Stewart) the human and Edward (Robert Pattinson) the vampire have married, fornicated and given birth to a baby they felt it necessary to name Renesmee. While still a fetus the little scamp had sucked the life from its mother leading to Bella’s death shortly after Edward decided to perform an emergency Cesarean with his teeth. He acts quickly and bites her again, this time in an attempt to save her life by turning her into a bloodsucker, and it works. She opens her inhuman, crimson eyes, and the credits roll. Oh, and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) the werewolf pees on Bella’s newborn daughter […]

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Drinking Games

The wait is over. The saga is nearly complete. The second half of Breaking Dawn comes to theaters this week, and the estrogen will flow. Twi-hards and Twi-moms around the world will be watching all four Twilight films leading up to the sure-to-be unepic conclusion. You may be forced to sit through one – or all – of these films before attending a showing of the new film this weekend. If that sounds like hell on Earth, you might want to have a drink… or two… or fourteen while watching the films with your significant other.

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Why Watch? A young woman sleepwalks onto a midnight subway train rattling its way through a quiet city and curls up with “Twilight” for her third read of it. She’s a big fan, but a young man begins challenging the idea of changing the lore. What does it really mean to be cursed? Is being a vampire supposed to be so glamorous? If you were a vampire hunting on the midnight train, which passenger would you feed on? Al Loughner‘s short isn’t just a flash in the pan trying to snake away some of the Twilight sparkle. It’s a smartly set up, gracefully executed conversation with a brutal reality at its core. It makes the argument against the de-fanging with flair while building an atmosphere of dread. Even though the climax is an obvious one, the reveal is done cleverly, and the production doesn’t shy away from showing the red stuff and a little bit of (ironically pretty) make-up work. What will it cost you? Only 8 minutes. Skip work. Watch more short films.

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In the new movie Pitch Perfect, a boy (Skylar Astin) introduces a girl (Anna Kendrick) to The Breakfast Club. It’s a believable scene, on it’s own. Even if I don’t necessarily think the 27-year-old John Hughes film, classic status notwithstanding, is a hugely important thing to the generation currently heading into college, I can accept that the guy is a movie soundtrack dork who seemingly loves only titles from before his birth and that she genuinely has never seen it. But it is a bit much that the signature Brat Pack film’s ending, with its iconic Simple Minds tune and Judd Nelson freeze-framed fist thrust, is played over and over, and the film figures so prominently into the romantic plot throughout. It all just feels like something from out of the mind of a thirty-something screenwriter rather than that of these modern-day teen characters. And the movie’s writer, Kay Cannon, is indeed a child of the ’80s and admits that The Breakfast Club is something she loves from her youth. Apparently, though, Say Anything was originally the teen movie of that era to be honored and made fun of in the new a-cappella-based comedy. She also is a big fan of Hughes’s Weird Science but couldn’t make it work. But for kids born around 1995, which is the target audience as well as the roles on screen, aren’t there more relevant films to reference? Maybe Mean Girls, Bring It On, Twilight, Rushmore, Juno, High School Musical, Superbad or — going […]

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Welcome to the weekend. I am the new FSR editor specifically covering Saturday and Sunday, and I’m kicking off, as I will each Saturday morning, with a recap of the site’s coverage from the previous seven days. I’ll start by getting the formality over with in linking to my own “Better Know a Reject” introductory profile. I’m actually not full of myself, but that post didn’t really fit anywhere else in this roundup. Now, let’s play catch up.   TIFF Begins First of all, this week saw the start of the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, and our man Andrew Robinson is on the beat. Ahead of the opening, he offered a list of 12 Most Anticipated Movies playing the event, including new works from the Wachowskis, Terrence Malick and Joss Whedon. First up from Andrew’s onsite coverage is a review of the “interesting” but “a bit uneven” documentary Far Out Isn’t Far Enough. Also reviewed as part of the fest, Rian Johnson’s Looper got an ‘A’ from newly joined Reject Louis Plamondon. Dredd 3D is screening at TIFF as part of the Midnight Madness program, and we took a look at a motion comic prologue to the upcoming action film. We also checked out the trailer for TIFF selection A Liar’s Autobiography: The Untrue Story of Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, an animated epic that should obviously appeal to fans of the British comedy legend(s). Fans of the troupe should also read Cole’s list of 6 Filmmaking Tips From Monty Python.

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Doctor Strange

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly movie news column that usually doesn’t get political. But it’s time someone takes a stance on Twilight. It had to be done. This aggression will not stand. One of the best things going in this business — of movie blogging — is Marvel rumors. They’re going to keep us all employed at least until the second Avengers film comes to term, if not longer. Kudos to Rob Keyes at ScreenRant for his astute dissection of how Doctor Strange may fit into Thor 2. Yes, Viggo Mortensen. Yes.

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Through his work on things like the first two Star Wars films, Temple of Doom, and the Robocop series, Phil Tippett has established himself as something of a legend in the world of creature effects, puppeteering, and stop-motion animation. One thing he was never able to do, however, was create his own animated short. He tried, earlier in his career, to put together a project called Mad God, which he describes as being, “an experimental, hand-made, animated film, set in a Miltonesque world of monsters, mad scientists, and war pigs.” Unfortunately for fans of interesting and weird animated things, it never quite got finished. As Tippett recently explained to Indiewire, “I started shooting on 35mm film way back in the early 90s and then the project kind of fell into disrepair when the digital age hit. So I had to recalculate and spend a lot of time re-engineering our business from photographic to digital, so Mad God kind of went on hold.”

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