What did I ever do before Rotten Tomatoes? I must have browsed new film reviews in some fashion other than sorting for and laughing sadistically at the negative ones, but I can’t recall what that might have involved. Skimming the newspaper page or website sidebar for one-star ratings, maybe? I don’t know.
All I do know is that the ability to move the rotten ones to the front of the queue has made reading movie reviews a hell of a lot more fun — and I liked reading ‘em to begin with. It also gives me a reason to look forward to the releases of films I know ahead of time I have no intention of seeing — films like, just plucking an example outta the air here, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
I saw the first film in the Twilight saga on DVD some time ago (Ashley brought it home from the library, lest you count me among that pitiable number who have paid to see a Twilight movie) and thought it was no-foolin’ one of the stupidest, most awful films I’ve ever seen. Twice since then I have enjoyed reading the scornful, vicious reviews of its two sequels. Roger Ebert’s review of New Moon is one of the funniest, most smugly satisfying pieces of film writing I’ve ever encountered. Here’s a taste that I hope will send you running to read the whole thing, if you haven’t already:
Edward and the other members of the Cullen vampire clan stand around a lot with glowering skulks. Long pauses interrupt longer ones. Listen up, lads! You may be immortal, but we’ve got a train to catch.
[. . .]
Bella writes long letters to her absent vampire friend Alice (Ashley Greene), in which she does nothing to explain why she is helplessly attracted to these sinister, humorless and vain men. It can’t be the sex. As I've already explained in my review of the first film, The Twilight Saga is an extended metaphor for teen chastity, in which the punishment for being deflowered I will leave to your imagination.
The movie includes beauteous fields filled with potted flowers apparently buried hours before by the grounds crew, and nobody not clued in on the plot. Since they know it all and we know all, sitting through this experience is like driving a tractor in low gear though a sullen sea of Brylcreem.
And now comes Eclipse, which has been touted (by critics seeking to establish a new precedent in the field of damning with faint praise) as the best of the series. Going purely by the numbers, it seems to be — Twilight and New Moon are sitting on Tomatometer ratings of 50% and 27% respectively. But Eclipse’s current 54% isn’t impressive by any reckoning, and is dominated by biting assessments like those found below, starting — once again — with a portion of the opinion of the great Roger Ebert:
For most of its languorous running time, it listens to conversations between Bella and Edward, Bella and Jacob, Edward and Jacob, and Edward and Bella and Jacob. This would play better if any of them were clever conversationalists. —Roger Ebert
Eclipse basically treads a whole bunch of the same ground we went over in the last terrible movie, except this time Jacob keeps coming across like a rapist in training. —Devin Faraci
These movies are more about the experience of hearing girls and women who should know better holler at the screen. They could just as well be at a concert. —Wesley Morris
It’s interesting to see each film make Bella into an even bigger creep than previously imagined, with Eclipse turning the indecisive heroine into a mean-spirited provocateur unworthy of all the attention lavished on her. —Brian Orndorf
This is what passes for romance in the early 21st century: a sexless, passionless tug-of-war among children. —MaryAnn Johanson
I can’t wait for the next one.