It's a great week to have a vagina. Or whatever female-specific organ/hormone it is that has turned the teeny-bopper-vampire-soap-opera Twilight into one of the most successful film franchises of recent memory. Breaking Dawn Part 2, the (aptly named?) fifth Twilight movie, opens at the Village 8 this Friday and by all accounts it's not only the best flick in the series but also actually a half-decent movie with a real payoff. I remain skeptical. The first Twilight was watchable but Bella, Jacob, Edward and friends lost me after that.
Of course what I, you, or anyone else thinks hardly matters to the "Twihards." The five Twilight films cost a combined $400 million to make and they've already grossed over $2.5 billon before the curtain even rises this weekend. The Breaking Dawn novel sold 1.3 million copies in a single day. In L.A. last weekend, fans camped out for a week to catch the world premier of this film and The Twilight Saga's official site on Facebook has almost 36 million fans. (For a sense of scale — Jesus Christ has 4.9 million fans and The Hunger Games movie eight million.) There's nothing bigger than Twilight right now.
Bella, the lip-biting protagonist of this action/romance abstinence parable has thus far been very purposely subdued so the almost entirely female audience could put themselves in her place and pine after either the dreamy (and only sometimes abusive) vampire Edward, or the so-angry-I'll-rip-my-shirt-off werewolf Joseph, or both at the same time.
However, since that love triangle fell apart last movie and she and Edward have done it a few times, Bella is suddenly full of piss and vinegar with a side of asskickery. She leaps through waterfalls and butchers cougars. She wears bright-coloured clothing and arm wrestles and leads the charge in a climactic end battle that's half Braveheart and half Kill Bill 1. Okay, maybe that's being a bit generous but by all accounts the climax of this flick is definitely more violent and awesome than anyone expected from a Twilight movie and it's nice to see actress Kristen Stewart with something to do for once in this series. (Wait till you see her drug-fueled topless sex scenes in On the Road, the rambling film adaptation of Kerouac's rambling novel.)
Part of me feels like all those Twilight fans knew all along that this series was gonna have a killer climax and the rest of us are the fools, but in any case, Twilight is over and it goes out with a bang that even Harry Potter would be jealous of. Time to put the cash cow out to pasture.
The more mature (but no less thirsty) female demographic, like my friends Hot Kel and Amy, will be over the moon this week as Magic Mike drops on DVD and legal download. Based loosely on the early career of star Channing Tatum (The Dilemma, Haywire) this one is a male-stripper morality tale from director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Oceans 11). Tatum co-stars with Matthew McConaughey and Alex Pettyfer in what is essentially a montage of ass, crotch, sunshine and sand.
Magic Mike is not a bad movie. It's well scripted, not too ambitious and all the acting is solid (Tatum especially clicks with Soderbergh's naturalistic style), but mostly this is a film to get the ladies' loins and hearts a-pumpin'. (And Soderbergh throws a pot-bellied pig eating overdose-vomit in there for all the dudes who got suckered in.)
Female-driven cinema has been on the rise in the past few years (Devil Wears Prada, Bridesmaids, Hunger Games) and while this week's flicks may not be high-water marks on the cerebral and artistic scales, it's good to see Hollywood figuring out that chicks have money too. Keep 'em coming.