Tag: kristen stewart

Lizzie


Lizzie (2018)
★★★ / ★★★★

Craig William Macneill’s approach of telling the famous 1892 double murder is interesting because it strives to avoid sensationalization of the material. Violence, whether it be physical or psychological, is dealt with in a matter-of-fact way; it creates a fascinating portrait particularly because it is told from the perspective of the title character, played by Chloë Sevigny, an unmarried woman in her thirties who is treated like garbage by her domineering father (Jamey Sheridan). And because the father is quite open to treating his daughter like she is worthless, others who are witness to his cruelty deem it is acceptable to treat Lizzie this way, too. We feel her growing rage, her every day humiliation. At one point, the film nudges us to consider whether the murders are justified.

Although I knew about the murder case and therefore what is in store fort Lizzie, the picture remains curious throughout. One of the reasons is its presentation. For the majority of the time, we are placed inside the Borden house; Lizzie feels trapped and so do we. (It could have been less heavy-handed with its metaphor of caged pigeons.) When the outdoors is shown from a window, for example, even having a peek at a verdant garden from a few steps away, we could taste the freedom. Notice, too, when a scene takes place outside, dialogue is minimal—like it is a crime to speak, laugh, and enjoy the outdoors. Being indoors is worse. There is horror in the way family members rarely speak to one another. And when they do, it often leads to some sort of confrontation. At night, unspeakable crimes occur.

Lizzie’s life is made a bit better when a new housemaid, Bridget Sullivan (Kristen Stewart), becomes a friend and soon a lover. Despite the fact that Stewart is solid in the role, I found her look and style of acting to be too modern. She is a walking anachronism in a straight-faced period drama—at times distracting but at the same time fascinating. When she is on screen, I found myself looking at her closely, observing minute details like how she breathes, even though I was entirely aware that her presence is a distraction.

I wondered if casting a performer who clearly does not fit the appearance of someone who lived in late 1880s was a strategy. Perhaps by having Stewart stick out like a sore thumb, it helps the viewer to recognize what Lizzie sees in Bridget. Because the plot is a murder story in its very core, a typical romantic parabola is inappropriate. I don’t think we are meant to process what they share as a love story. It opens the door to the possibility that Bridget, especially through the scope of a lesbian affair, is a mere excitement, that Lizzie wanting to have her is achieving freedom in a way.

The screenplay is written by Bryce Kass and the film is not for impatient viewers. I admired its willingness to take the time and putting in the effort to soak the audience in Lizzie’s miserable life. The criminally underrated Sevigny is supremely watchable because there is not one moment when she dials down Lizzie’s fierce intelligence. That is the correct decision because all of the men in the titular character’s life remind her, one way or another, that she is inferior simply because of her sex. Close-ups, especially unflattering ones, reveal the subject’s quiet desperation.

Charlie’s Angels


Charlie’s Angels (2019)
★★ / ★★★★

A mere fifteen minutes into this generic reboot of “Charlie’s Angels,” I could not help but wish for the screenplay by Elizabeth Banks to drop the constant, in-your-face, obnoxious, try-hard, and superficial “female empowerment” message and just tell a good story with characters worth rooting for. It is embarrassing that the writing is reduced to a chronic case of ass-licking—for the lack of a better term—of the female gender instead of simply attempting to appeal to all viewers regardless of sex. This trend of “elevating” women by putting down males in the movies is getting old, especially ineffective when the strategy is as subtle as swinging a mallet to the testicles.

It is a shame because I enjoyed the casting of the Angels: Ella Balinska as Jane, the badass former MI-6 agent who copes by compartmentalizing, Kristen Stewart as Sabina, the goofy and sarcastic spice, and Naomi Scott as Elena, the engineer thrusted into the world of international espionage following her decision to become a whistleblower against the shady tech company she works for (Sam Claflin). All three actors bring something fresh and exciting to the table, particularly Balinska who is quite convincing in wearing the physicality that the role demands—a feat because experienced Stewart is capable of simply standing in one spot while doing nothing yet standing out like the star that she is.

Banks also directed the film, but the work fails to rise above its contemporaries. In fact, the approach, it appears, is to blend into them as to be forgotten completely. Pick any action sequence, for instance, and notice how it evokes the feeling of a music video: choppy, the sound tending to overwhelm the images, luxury over believability. While the movie is meant to be escapist, it does not mean that realism must be thrown out altogether. Otherwise, how would we come to believe the more dramatic turns?

Speaking of turns, there are numerous ludicrous twists that fail to make sense, from character motivations (especially the villains), head-scratching plot devices, to how one can so suddenly escape from what appears to be certain death. Eventually, we are trained not to trust what is unfolding on screen because we suspect a twist to occur at any given moment anyway. In other words, the reboot makes the elementary mistake of choosing immediate gratification over inspiring us invest into this familiar world with new characters. It seems that there is a lack of careful thought put into the project; this is a prime example of reliance on branding.

Had the writer-director been more ambitious and thoughtful about the story she wished to tell, “Charlie’s Angels” could have appealed to a whole new generation. The star power is there. Even the inimitable Sir Patrick Stewart graces the screen. And one or two of the extended chases—the sequence in Hamburg is a standout—aren’t half-bad. While a next installment is inevitable, it would be interesting to see a different filmmaker at the helm, one whose goal is to make a solid and memorable action movie first and foremost—with or without substantive social commentary.

Underwater


Underwater (2020)
★★ / ★★★★

Following the destruction of a massive underwater drill station, the remaining survivors (Vincent Cassel, Mamoudou Athie, T.J. Miller, John Gallagher Jr., Jessica Henwick) decide that their only hope for survival is to walk across the seafloor for about a mile and reach an abandoned station where escape pods can be employed to transport them to the surface. The goal is clear and the premise is straightforward, so it is no surprise that “Underwater” is able to capture the viewers’ attention right from the get-go. It proves to be another challenge, however, to keep our attention. It is most disappointing that the picture ends up adopting the usual tricks of modern horror movies in order to generate reaction: shaking the camera, obfuscating the action, turning the audio way up. It suffers from diminishing returns.

The funny thing is, an argument can be made that the elements cited above need not be utilized at all. There is already something inherently creepy about living and working in an underwater facility where is no day and night cycle. Hallways tend to look the same. At times the only thing that can be heard are the beeping of machines. When the movie plays it quiet, it is when its star, Kristen Stewart, who plays Norah the mechanical engineer, shines like a candle in the dark. It is without question that she shines in introspective roles. When we meet Norah, the sadness about her is almost palpable—despite an off-putting narration. Stewart’s approach is to play a dramatic character in a disaster movie that just so happens to be a monster flick, too. It could have been a killer amalgamation.

But the screenplay by Brian Duffield and Adam Cozard is only somewhat interested in our heroine’s inner turmoil. And so little connection, if any, is established between Norah and the dismantling of the drilling facility as well as Norah and the ancient, eye-less deep sea monsters with terrifying teeth and mini-talons along their tentacles. As expected in disaster flicks, the survivors perish one by one—dry, formulaic, tiresome. It also embraces a cliché that I find to be most intolerable: attempting to drag a useless, emotionally fragile character to the finish line. Nobody wants to watch a weakling take up space, especially when everyone around this character so desperately wishes to survive the ordeal.

Showing the station falling apart from the outside does not look impressive. Structures falling on top of one another, for example, appears to be made by a cheap computer program. Perhaps it is due to the presence of underwater debris; it is so thick that we are required to squint in order to appreciate finer details. Meanwhile, the monsters are hit-or-miss. There is a marginally effective sequence in which a creature is placed on a table and one of the survivors attempts to examine it. At one point, she actually touches it with her bare hands. But when these creatures are shown underwater, feelings of dread and horror are lessened. Maybe it is because the filmmakers decide to show them far too often to the point where mystery is no longer present.

There is a simplicity and a directness to the film that can be appreciated. But the longer one observes and peels through the layers, it becomes glaringly obvious there isn’t much there. Even its awkward attempts at humor is wan; there is not one memorable line. When the clownish character, who we are supposed to like, faces mortal danger, we feel nothing toward the threat; we simply accept the idea that characters must drop like flies before the third act. While tolerable overall, the movie fails to offer a consistently captivating experience.

Personal Shopper


Personal Shopper (2016)
★★★ / ★★★★

“Personal Shopper” is kind of a ghost story in that it plays with the possibility of the paranormal, there are discussions about the soul and the afterlife, and the main character is a medium waiting for a sign from her twin brother who had died of a heart attack. Although certainly not for everyone, especially those in the mood for clear-cut answers, the picture paints a steady hypnotic rhythm in which the experience is akin to peering through a thick fog. There is a figure just beyond a certain distance but it is difficult to discern whether such a figure is the living, just a life-like statue, or something else entirely.

Kristen Stewart is nearly in every scene of this curious film and she commands attention even if, or especially when, her character does not say a word. We get to know Maureen not through words but the manner in which Stewart puts on a certain mask depending on which persons Maureen is interacting with. It is a controlled and calibrated performance and yet the actor is fluid in communicating the subtleties of every action and reaction. For instance, take note of scenes where she is alone in a dark house and attempting to communicate with those that have passed on. A trite situational horror is imbued with fresh energy exactly because Stewart’s approach is reacting in a dramatic film rather than that of a horror picture.

The plot is quite easy to describe but the work is a challenge to categorize. This is because there are several machinations that complement and contradict each other at times. For example, as stated earlier, elements of the paranormal is introduced, but numerous scenes unfold in expensive shops and posh boutiques. Clearly, the material is making a statement about the beautiful but empty world of celebrity and fashion, but what is it saying about ruminating the afterlife? I think it might be suggesting that both are silly because neither focuses on what is important in life, especially what is happening now—that both are distractions from the bigger picture. But another person can easily disagree and make an equally strong case that it all depends on one’s perspective. The film inspires discussion.

Criticism will be focused on long takes where “nothing much happens.” But that is exactly what I enjoyed about it. Although, there is a lack of dramatic peaks, there are payoffs because for a while the material takes its time to build. We form questions in our heads, we wonder whether there are logical answers to everything that is going on, and we reevaluate our suspicions and conclusions once pieces of the puzzle reveal themselves. It engages in the way that typical horror-thrillers do not. It walks the line between cerebral and emotional. For a while I did not know from which lens I should look at it from—I saw it as a challenge rather than a source of frustration.

Written and directed by Olivier Assayas, “Personal Shopper” will appeal to those with an open mind, those who welcome unexpected beats in plot and story. Enter this world like a fallen leaf and allow the wind to carry you through most unexpected places. Remnants of classic filmmaking appear here such as ending scenes right in the middle of conversations.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

Three days after Edward (Robert Pattinson) turned Bella (Kristen Stewart) into a vampire in order to save her life moments after giving birth, it appears that it is literally happily ever after for the couple and their half-human, half-vampire child named Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy). But when Irina (Maggie Grace), sees the little girl from afar, she is convinced that the Cullens have committed a most egregious crime. In the vampire community, it is illegal to create an Immortal Child because they cannot be controlled. She proceeds to report what she had witnessed to the head of the Volturi, Aro (Michael Sheen), vampire royalty who maintains the secrecy of vampires’ existence from humans. Treating the matter with utmost urgency, it is decided that the Cullens are to be forced to meet true deaths.

There is no point in hiding the fact that a part of me groans a little every time I watch a trailer of an upcoming “Twilight” picture ever since the first installment disappointed my already low expectations. And yet I continued to watch the series because although it is most often a letdown (it does have some good moments), for me, it always had potential to become an above average action-fantasy and “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer and screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg, proves that my suspicion is right.

The first part drags as if we have forever to spare. There is a contrivance involving the Cullens, now including Bella, attempting to keep a secret from Bella’s father (Billy Burke). That is, he cannot know that his own daughter has been turned into a vampire. As usual, the screenplay provides very little depth to the circumstances so the Cullens end up very unlikeable. The most effective fantasies come hand-in-hand with being well-written. It is paramount that it establishes a world that we can immerse ourselves into so when an outrageous thing like preventing a father from knowing that his child has died (essentially), we understand and sympathize with the moral and ethical conundrums.

There is a little bit of everything from the past films, from Jacob (Taylor Lautner) taking off his clothes before he transforms into a werewolf to Bella and Edward looking longingly at each other (key word: long) before they start to grab each other’s bodies and the filmmakers bathe whatever is going on in warm colors. Small dosages go a long way because it gives more time to explore new territories. The film begins to pick up momentum when the Cullens recruit vampires from all over the globe to support them just in case a battle erupts between them and the Volturi.

The action scenes toward the end are thrilling. A few characters we have grown to like (and hate) meet the most gruesome deaths, limbs are chopped off, and bodies are burnt. I liked that the war is not between army of thousands but only a couple of handful. And since the good guys are outnumbered around three to one, there is enough threat to wonder how many of the good guys will survive. In the middle of the pandemonium, I could not help but wonder how much I would have enjoyed the series more if the writer and filmmakers’ creative license had been exercised more often. I admit that the twist at the end had me going. It should not work but it does here.

“The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2,” directed by Bill Condon, may disappoint fans of the novels but, as a movie, it ends on a right note. I enjoyed the action. Also, I found that the thicker a vampire’s accent, the more I am inclined to want to know more about him or her. For instance, I wished Vladimir (Noel Fisher) and Stefan (Guri Weinberg) were in it more. However, I am reluctant to give the film an enthusiastic recommendation for sheer action. A lot of questions are unanswered, many motivations are unexplored, and the first third is lifeless. Having said that, it is the most fun of the bunch.

Snow White and the Huntsman


Snow White and the Huntsman (2012)
★★ / ★★★★

After the death of Snow White’s mother, King Magnus (Noah Huntley) went to war against an army that consisted of soldiers whose bodies shattered like glass when struck with appropriate force. Claiming a swift victory, the king found a prisoner, Ravenna (Charlize Theron), in one of the carriages and was so struck with her beauty, he decided to marry her the next day. Ravenna proved to be a traitor when she poisoned and pierced the king’s heart with a dagger just when they were about to consummate their marriage. As queen, Ravenna imprisoned Snow White indefinitely just in case she’d be of some use in the future. “Snow White and the Huntsman,” based on the screenplay by Evan Daugherty, John Lee Hancock, and Hossein Amini, showed magnificent promise as we plunged into a medieval world tarnished by dark magic and other curiosities, but it was ultimately unable to sustain its exciting momentum, weighed down by its middle section so bloated and soporific, it was like a poison apple to an otherwise thrilling action-fantasy. Casting Theron to play the evil queen was an excellent decision because she was able to deliver stunning beauty juxtaposed with an intensely ugly shrillness when things didn’t go her way. Theron completely embodied the queen’s desperation, from her intense glares to her branch-like fingers, to capture Snow White (Kristen Stewart) who successfully escaped from the castle. According to the mirror, eating the heart of the fairest in the land would provide Ravenna immortality–forever beautiful and powerful. Less effective were the title characters, especially Chris Hemsworth as The Huntsman. While it was fun to watch his physicality in terms of killing and knocking bad guys unconscious, the more sensitive moments, such as the backstory involving his deceased wife, not only felt like footnotes but they felt so muted, I didn’t feel like I knew the character well enough. Halfway through, I found myself expecting him to get killed because his use surpassed its expiration date. On the other hand, while Stewart did an adequate job as Snow White, looking very beautiful and tortured, it was unfortunate that her character was not given enough dimension for us to be convinced that she was a complex character worth rooting for no matter what. Because of this, her so-called moments of valor felt forced which began in the final act when she had to deliver a speech as to why they should lead an assault to her father’s former castle. Furthermore, the picture went overboard with its special and visual effects. At its best, the effects successfully placed us into the mind of Snow White. There was a real sense of dread when our heroine entered the enchanted Dark Forest for the first time and experienced horrific hallucinations. However, the effects eventually took center stage as it introduced fairies, trolls, and the like. While the film had a magical element to it, the introduction of the creatures felt more like empty visual candy–distractions–than tools of progressing the story forward. Lastly, I found the dwarves to be very dull which was a mistake because they are a staple to the mythology. If they had to be introduced, at least the writers ought to have done them the honor of making them memorable. Directed by Rupert Sanders, “Snow White and the Huntsman” had some entertaining action sequences but it needed to have the fat of its middle portion trimmed to make it feel more compact. Waiting for something to happen combined with inadequately established protagonists does not equal escapism.

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011)
★ / ★★★★

Invitations were sent to family and friends about Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward’s (Robert Pattinson) upcoming wedding. Jacob (Taylor Lautner) was far from happy after receiving the news so he headed outside, took off his shirt, transformed into a wolf, and ran to ameliorate his rage. During their honeymoon, Bella discovered that she was pregnant. The couple was surprised because it was believed that a human and a vampire could not conceive a viable being. The fetus was growing at a rapid rate and it threatened the life of its host. Despite sensible advice that she ought to terminate, Bella decided to keep the thing inside her. Based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer, “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” was the weakest entry in the series. It was divided into three parts: the wedding, the honeymoon, and the horrific pregnancy. There was absolutely no reason for the film to be divided into two halves other than to make money. There was no pretentiousness, which I would have welcomed and possibly interpreted as ambition, or even an attempt of artistic integrity. The movie lacked interesting events, both big and small, designed to challenge who the characters were and what they really stood for. Since Melissa Rosenberg, who wrote the screenplay, stretched about half the novel for almost two hours, the pacing felt unbearably slow. It got so bad to the point where the characters actually ended up watching television together because they had nothing better to do. At least it was unintentionally funny. The acting was never the series’ strong point, but I’ve always managed to stick with it. In this installment, I lost my patience within the first few minutes. It was supposed to be Bella’s wedding day. It’s a big day when everyone is supposed to be excited and happy. Or at least pretending to be. Walking down that aisle, Bella looked absolutely miserable, like she was being punished and in pain. Take off the wedding dress and she looked like she really needed to go to the restroom. I understood that maybe she was nervous about marrying a vampire. Maybe she was even having second thoughts about making a monumental commitment. If those were the emotions that the actress wanted to portray, the responsible thing to do was for the director, Bill Condon, to do a reshoot until the right emotions were conveyed through the screen. The director had no control over his material. It looked like the filmmakers did only about ten takes and were forced to pick the best one, which was below mediocre. I’ve seen Stewart’s work in other movies and I know that she can act well given the right script and direction. I wish Jessica (Anna Kendrick), Bella’s friend from high school with whom she never interacted with, had more lines during the scenes prior to the wedding. Kendrick brought a certain energy, a realism and effortless charisma, that the other actors either didn’t have or were unwilling to show. “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1” could not afford its characters to look bored because the pacing, the script, and the plot were already on the verge of lethargy. For instance, instead of showing the Cullens, Bella, and Jacob just sitting on the couch and watching TV, why not explain the concept of imprinting? It was an important part of the movie, but I found myself having to look up exactly what it was after watching it. Like the parasitic creature in Bella’s womb, that’s not a good sign.

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse


The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)
★★ / ★★★★

I can always rely on the “Twilight” series to be consistently mediocre despite the fact that each movie released was better than its predecessor. In “Eclipse,” based on the novel by Stephenie Meyer and directed by David Slade, the love triangle between Bella (Kristen Stewart), Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) reached its peak but the vampire and werewolf camps decided to join forces in order to protect Bella from newly-born vampires led by Riley (Xavier Samuel) and Victoria (Bryce Dallas Howard taking over for Rachelle Lefevre). Like the first two movies, “Eclipse” suffered from far too many ways Edward and Bella expressed how much they loved each other. I understood that the whole thing might have worked on paper or else the novels wouldn’t have been as successful but it just did not work on film because it quickly became redundant. Even when the movie tried to explore the romantic relationship between Bella and Jacob, the picture lacked energy and, to be quite honest, I started noticing the make-up, editing and the lighting. In other words, it lost my interest despite my best intentions of sticking with the story. The movie would have benefited if it had more action sequences. Maybe it’s because I’m a guy but I did enjoy the climax when the werewolves and vampires came head-to-head with the vampire army while Edward and Bella faced Riley and Victoria. Victoria was probably my favorite character since the first movie because I thought she was menacing but enchanting at the same time. Unfortunately, even though I could tell she was trying her best, Howard’s interpretation of her character did not work for me because she lacked Lefevre’s subtleties (which the series desperately lacked). In this installment, Victoria felt like a pawn instead of a rogue vampire who was full of malice and thirst for vengeance. I also enjoyed the tent scene when Edward and Jacob finally connected not because it was touching on any level but because it was very amusing to the point where people were actually laughing out loud in the theater. There was something purposely homoerotic about the very intense glares the two sent each other. Even though that scene wasn’t very effective, I admired that the material was aware enough to make fun of itself. Furthermore, I can criticize the film for not being a good example for teenagers in promoting marriage considering the characters’ ages but I won’t because it simply tried to remain loyal to its source. I can only hope that the final installment (divided in two) will have more suspense and action than romance. It needed less cheese and more bloodshed.

Adventureland


Adventureland (2009)
★★★ / ★★★★

This 80’s-inspired coming-of-age comedy-drama about James Brennan, played by Jesse Eisenberg, who was forced to work on a theme park after his parents (Jack Gilpin and Wendie Malick) revealed to him that they were having pecuniary issues. He also had to sacrifice his trip to Europe, a graduation present that he was obviously looking forward to. What I loved about “Adventureland” was it managed to focus the spotlight on James’ journey to maturity no matter how painful some realizations ended up being. The colorful characters from the theme park, including his romantic interest (Kristen Stewart), and the comedy felt secondary to journey. It was a nice change from typical teen comedies of today. I also really liked the music that were featured. It feels like once in a blue moon that I actually am familiar with 85-90% of the soundtrack. (Mainly because my parents are big on music of the 1980’s and I grew up listening to such.) Written and directed by Greg Mottola (“Superbad”), this film managed to paint all of its characters with a certain sadness which happened to unconsciously come out whenever they interacted with each other. Motolla actually gave his characters a chance to talk about their dreams, insecurities, and the things that were going on at home instead of just giving the audiences easy (and uninsightful) slapstick comedy. The only thing that did not quite work for me was Ryan Reynolds’ character and his relationship with James’ romantic interest. Not only did Reynolds and Stewart have too many scenes together, but the relationship somewhat felt forced. If I look back on the picture and not think about the scenes that mainly involved those two characters, pretty much everything else would have been the same. Having said that, this is still a strong movie about a college graduate who, through trials of hardwork and heartbreak in the theme park, actually learned more about himself and about life than if he had gone to Europe. And that’s a nice message for those who cannot quite leave their hometowns because of their many responsibilities or for whatever reason.

Twilight


Twilight (2008)
★★ / ★★★★

I never read the series written by Stephenie Meyer so I won’t compare the film to the novel. However, I must say that I was pleasantly surprised that I liked this film, in parts, because of all the negative reviews from both fans and non-fans of the book. Kristen Stewart stars as Bella Swan, a girl that recently moves in Fork, Washington and eventually befriends a vampire played by Robert Pattinson. It’s only a matter of time until they fall for each other and problems regarding the collision of their different worlds start to arise. I mentioned that I liked this movie in parts. I really enjoyed “Twilight” up until Stewart finally realized that Pattinson was a vampire. The way that Catherine Hardwicke, the director, framed the awkwardness and stupidity of high school students was really good. (I really do mean that as a compliment.) I wasn’t that surprised because she directed admirable pictures like “Thirteen” and “Lords of Dogtown.” What didn’t work for me was when the romantic aspect was being explored. I felt like Bella’s IQ dropped twenty points when she finally figured out Pattinson’s nature. She knows he’s dangerous but she doesn’t put in any effort to stay away; she also becomes a typical damsel-in-distress which was a completely different main character during the movie’s first few minutes. I thought Bella was going to be consistently tough, edgy, not to mention having a mind of her own. I felt like she needed a man in order to feel safe and that’s not a good message to girls and women. While I didn’t mind the whole teenager-dating-a-hundred-year-old-guy aspect of it because I was a fan of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the Buffy-Angel relationship, not the Buffy-Spike ridiculousness), I felt like the movie would’ve been more interesting if it consistently explored why these vampires are dangerous, their histories, and more importantly, their varying abilities. It was nice that the vampires in this movie could walk around in daylight, have reflections and have certain abilities that others do not have. I thought “Twilight” recovered its focus during the baseball scene: James (Cam Gigandet) was a convincing threat to Bella so I was engaged. But then the movie dropped the ball again during the last few scenes. I expected that not all my questions will be answered because this was only the first of the series. I particularly wanted to know more about Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) and how he’s different than Edward Cullen. I felt like this movie had an equal amount of positives and negatives so I’m going to give this a mediocre rating. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be (granted, my expectations were really quite low) and hopefully, it gets better as the series progresses.