Tag Archives: Twilight Eclipse

Movie Review: The Loved Ones (2009)

‘The Loved Ones’ screens in Australian cinemas from 4 November 2010

I find it strange that an Australian movie with Australian actors is already on DVD overseas and it hasn’t even shown here in Australia yet.  Lucky for me I caught a media screening of it earlier this week.

Nevertheless, The Loved Ones will no doubt generate plenty of interest for one big reason: Xavier Samuel (you know, that boy Riley from Twilight: Eclipse — it seems anything remotely Twilight related will kick up a storm these days).

In The Loved Ones, Samuel (who is almost unrecognisable without his Bieber haircut from Eclipse) plays Brent, a grief-stricken 17-year-old who is asked to ‘prom’ by a seemingly shy girl, Lola (Robin McLeavy).  When Brent refuses in favour of his girlfriend,  it becomes the worst mistake he’ll ever make in his life…

The Loved Ones has been described as Wolf Creek meets Pretty In Pink, though to be honest it reminds me of neither.  It’s a teen horror that feels eerily familiar, probably because it takes elements from a lot of other torture-porn horror films like Hostel, Saw and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. As a result, while there isn’t anything completely like it as far as I know, it just doesn’t feel particularly fresh or original.

That said, it still provided some very decent scares (particularly visceral ones that challenge you to not look away), and I must admit there were a couple of nice little surprises thrown in there that I hadn’t expected.  The characters, especially the antagonists, are not well-drawn out at all (we needed more time with them in the ‘normal’ world), but they certainly are twisted and demented.

Not all of the scenes and dialogue worked in my opinion — they were a little clunky in some parts when you could tell the intention was to make the characters creepy, except they weren’t.  However, later events and sequences definitely make up for it.  The film is probably a lot more clever than I give it credit for.

As far as low budget horrors go, this is certainly one of the better made ones, especially by Australian standards.  At a trim 84-minutes, it gets straight into the action, wasting very little time from start to finish.  And despite there only being a handful of characters, everyone had a purpose and all the subplots were tied together nicely.

One of the things that annoyed me for some reason was the deliberate Americanising of the school aspects of the film.  Even though it is set in an unknown part of rural Australia, for some reason the school reminds you of every American school you’ve seen on TV, from the casual clothing to the lockers to how everyone runs out a second after the bell rings.  That decision, perhaps to connect with American audiences more, took away some of the Aussieness of the film.

Ultimately, The Loved Ones isn’t anything special, but if you want to be scared and disgusted (in a kind of fun, entertaining way), it should have no problem getting the job done.  If not, just watch it for Xavier Samuel.  He’s actually very very good in it.

3.25 out of 5

Movie Review: The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010)

Twilight hype continues to rage around the world with the release of the third film in the “Saga” — Eclipse.  I just went to see it with my sister who is visiting from out of town.  She’s not a Twilight “fan” per se, but she was excited.  I on the other hand, having read the book at the beginning of the year, was a little more ambivalent about the whole thing, but still wanted to see it.

Well, the third instalment of Twilight fever was a bit of a “meh” affair.  It picks up where the second film left off, with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) in blissful love with her vampire boyfriend Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), and neglecting her werewolf best friend Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), who has a hopeless crush on her.  But all is not well because people are dying under mysterious circumstances in Seattle and it appears Bella is the ultimate target.  Who could it be?  Trust me, it’s bleedingly obvious.

Director David Slade (who directed the impressive 30 Days of Night and the excellent Hard Candy) probably did all he could with this one.  While it contained the most climatic dramatic and action sequences of the series thus far, Eclipse had me yawning and laughing (at the unintentional humour) more regularly than I should have.

The novel version of Eclipse is referred to by many Twilight fans as the best of the Saga, though I personally thought it was very long and not much happened until the very end.  Plus that Bella is really annoying!  So to be honest I thought the movie was better than the book because it only took up 2 hours as opposed to a couple of weeks and still managed to essentially cover all the main points of the novel.

By now we’re all familiar with the core characters and their traits, so we don’t find out anything new about them.  What we have is more of the same old from the last two films (sexual tension and corny dialogue), but even more dramatic and intense.

Bella continues to be torn between two “men” who love her and can’t decide what she wants to do with her life.  I’ve been a fan of Kristen Stewart since Into the Wild, but there’s no denying that she was irritating in this one.  Her acting was better (she showed more range than that singular “I’ve got something stuck in my throat” expression) but it didn’t make Bella a more sympathetic character.  There were many whispers of “slut” throughout the cinema during a couple of scenes!

Rob Patz’s Edward Cullen takes a bit of a back seat in this one, even though he has more screen time than in New Moon.  He is still disgustingly sweet and overprotective, but he felt strangely hollow.  It may have something to do with the constant strain on his face and in his voice.  Give the poor guy some metamucil.

Again, it’s up to Taylor Lautner’s Jacob Black and his ripped bod to save the show.  Lautner has some horribly melodramatic lines, but to his credit, he manages to pull most them off without generating laughter.  He’s the only central character out of the three to develop any sort of connection with me.

The returning cast (such as Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick, Dakota Fanning, Ashley Greene and Kellan Lutz etc) do a solid job with their smaller roles, and it was good to find out the back stories of some of the vampires and werewolves through flashbacks.  However, the casting of Bryce Dallas Howard as the villain Victoria was a terrible choice to replace Rachelle Lefevre.  She has the same long red curls but has zero menace.  A real disappointment considering what a fantastic actress she is.

To sum it all up, Eclipse is a passable effort for the third film of a blockbuster franchise.  Nothing about it is great, but I can’t exactly point to anything that was done too badly.  It gives fans what they want — which is more mushy stuff between the three leads, plus more vampire/werewolf action — but it’s unlikely to turn non-fans into new fans of the Saga.

3 stars out of 5

PS: It was interesting to see several characters sporting Justin Bieber haircuts.