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Sun setting on tedious Twilight

THE TWILIGHT SAGA: BREAKING DAWN, PART 1 Fantasy. Starring Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke, Anna Kendrick. Directed by Bill Condon. Cert 12A

Once the Harry Potter people had split the final property in the franchise into two massive paydays it was all too grimly inevitable that the number-crunchers behind this anaemic vampire saga would follow suit. However, whereas Deathly Hallows had to tie up the best part of a dozen story strands and set up a cataclysmic final conflict, what we have here is an exercise in cynicism, fleecing fans just for the sake of it.

It can be a good idea to kick off a movie with a wedding. In, say, The Godfather we had a masterclass in introducing the audience to a variety of characters and setting up the tensions between them.

Alas, Bill Condon is no Francis Ford Coppola and the opening 40 minutes or so of Breaking Dawn drags out the nuptials between the mopey 18-year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and her 108-year-old vampire beau Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson).

Strangely, it's in this part of the film that the only elements of genuine -- as opposed to hilariously unintentional -- humour occur, with a couple of nifty one-liners and one imaginative cut in a flashback to Edward's bloodthirsty past.

After that, the worst fears of Bella's other suitor, the part-time werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner, who rips his shirt off within 15 seconds of the title appearing on screen), come true as Bella and Edward go at it on their honeymoon (we get to see a wrecked, morning-after bedroom but miss most of the fun) and within a fortnight our happy heroine is carrying a vampire/human baby.

What follows is monotonous in the extreme, as members of the Cullen family and Bella take part in a half-assed debate on whether to keep the thing/foetus/baby before there follows a birth scene which had most of the audience wincing. If Stephenie Meyers' intention was to put Twilight's young female audience off the idea of sex then this should do it.

Breaking Dawn is dragged out beyond any reasonable length, with scenes drifting aimlessly in order to fill the running-time. There are some baffling bouts of dialogue, a hilarious moment involving blood and a styrofoam cup and a thoroughly laughable scene where the crap CGI werewolves have a bit of a barney.

The first Twilight movie wasn't actually all that bad but the producers are milking meagre material with this tedious, money-making exercise. And we have to wait until this time next year for it all to end . . . HHIII

JUSTICE Thriller. Starring Nicolas Cage, January Jones, Guy Pearce. Directed by Roger Donaldson. Cert 15A

In this implausible revenge thriller Nicolas Cage's wife is brutally assaulted one night. In the hospital he is approached by a man who can 'take care' of the attacker and may require some favour in the future. Naturally, the payback, when it comes, isn't small by any means.

About the only good thing about Justice is Guy Pearce's nifty suit. HIIII

Bernadette: Notes on a Political Journey Documentary. Directed by Lelia Doolan. Cert General)

Elected as MP for Mid-Ulster in 1969 at the age of 21, Bernadette McAliskey (nee Devlin) was one of the most visible figures in the Civil Rights struggle. In Lelia Doolan's film Bernadette looks back on her life with rather more humour than I, certainly, would ever have given her credit for. HHHII


Heading straight to DVD is Come on Eileen, a micro-budget drama from Finola Geraghty.