‘Twilight’’s last gleaming?
Owls Head — The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2 (Summit, Blu-ray or standard DVD, PG-13, 115 min.). The filmmakers decided to break Stephenie Meyer’s third “Twilight” novel into two separate films. Part 1, frankly, was a bit boring at times, but Part 2 is a big improvement, with one caveat that will be discussed later. It was also a good choice to have director Bill Condon helm both parts.
By now, all the characters are familiar, led by Robert Pattinson as vampire Edward Cullen, Kristen Stewart as his recent bride Bella Swan (turned vampire to save her life after the birth of their child, Renesmee), Taylor Lautner as wolf changeling Jacob Black and Peter Facinelli as Dr. Carlisle Cullen, leader of the Cullen vampire family. This helps tremendously, as a whole bunch of new characters are swiftly introduced. First, however, the film deals with Bella reveling in, and getting used to, her new powers as a vampire. She also has to get used to the fact that her daughter has imprinted on Jacob. Renesmee is a special child, being half-human and half-vampire. She grows at an extraordinary rate and has some powers, one of which is accidentally seen by a vampire who believes the child has been turned into a vampire against vampire law. She goes running to Aro (Martin Sheen), head of the Volturi, who decides the child must be examined and then destroyed. Edward comes up with a plan to prove Renesmee’s humanity by visiting other vampires and proving it to them, so they can become witnesses. These new vampires have a variety of interesting powers themselves.
It all leads to a showdown in a snowy field, with the wolves being on the Cullens’ side. The battle that follows is quite well executed and pays off emotionally, as even most skeptics are now somewhat invested in the characters after this many films. That said, the ending of the movie is a cheat, one that angered me and betrayed my emotional investment. (I need to point out that I have never read the books and do not know how the author ended the series.) I did like how the film concluded, by identifying all the actors. The film looks great on Blu-ray and you are immersed in the film’s sound.
Extras are quite good again, including audio commentary by director Condon; a 93:17-long making-of documentary that can be watched alone or as a picture-in-picture feature during the film; a 6:27 look at making the two films back-to-back; and Green Day’s “The Forgotten” music video. The song is a nice piano-based ballad. Grade: film 3.25 stars; extras 3.5 stars
Rating guide: 5 stars = classic; 4 stars = excellent; 3 stars = good; 2 stars = fair; dog = skip it
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1 Extended Edition (Summit, Blu-ray disc, NR, 124 min.). Summit also has issued a special edition of the first half of “Breaking Dawn,” one for which director Bill Condon has added eight minutes of footage. The new scenes, which are so well-woven in you would not recognize them as new if seeing the film for the first time, include a Volturi opening, a balcony scene between Alice (Ashley Greene) and Jacob (Taylor Lautner) and a confrontation between Edward (Robert Pattinson) and Jacob near the film’s end. The only extra is the original director’s audio commentary, with added commentary over the newly-inserted scenes, although the original PG-13 version is included as well.
Sinister (Summit, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 110 min.). This is another winner from Summit. Directed and co-written by Scott Derrickson (“The Exorcism of Emily Rose”), the film tackles the non-familiar genre or supernaturally-bothered authors (Stephen King’s “The Shining” is the best example). Ethan Hawke plays true crime writer Ellison Oswalt, whose procedure is to move in as close to where his subjects lived as possible. He made his fame and minor fortune with “Kentucky Blood,” 10 years previously. Now, the money has about run out and none of his subsequent books have sold as well.
His latest subject is a family of whom four members were hanged from a tree in the backyard and the fifth member, the young daughter, Stephanie, disappeared. Unfortunately for Oswalt, his wife Tracy (Juliet Rylance) and children Trevor (Michael Hall D’Addario), who is subject to night terrors and sleepwalking, and Ashley (Clare Foley), this time he has moved them into the house where the crime was committed. In the attic, he finds a chest filled with 8mm home movies, each showing the gruesome end of a family. With the help of a local sheriff’s deputy (James Ransone), Oswalt tracks down the history of the murders shown in the film and eventually learns on a connection -- in each case one child went missing. The home movie aspect mirrors a bit of “Paranormal Activity” (this is from the same producer) and even the great film “Blowup” by Michelangelo Antonioni; however, there also is some creepiness that recalls the film “The Ring.”
The film goes for many of the cheap startles, but by its second half, it becomes genuinely creepy (helped by some very creepy music as well). The ending seemed a bit rushed, compared to the rest of the film. Extras include an audio commentary on the technical bits of making the film by the director, as well as a second audio commentary by the director and co-writer C. Robert Cargill. A couple of professors and two true crime book writers share their opinions on the genre and its authors in one feature (9:16) and a second, more interesting feature (11:32) talks about a real haunted house in Villisca, Iowa, where an axe murderer killed a family in 1912. The house is actually “rented out” for evenings and daytime tours are given. There also is a deleted scene (4:55). Grade: film 3.25 stars; extras 2.5
Silent Hill Revelation (Universal, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 95 min.). This is the second “Silent Hill” film and is based on both the first film and the third version of the video game. The first film ended with Rose Da Silva able to send her daughter Shannon away from the horror that is the hidden alternate reality of Silent hill. That daughter (Adelaide Clemens) is now known as Heather Mason and is about to turn 18. She has been raised by her dad (Sean Bean as Harry Mason/Christopher Da Silva), who has hidden everything about Silent Hill from her.
On the day Heather goes to her new school, she discovers she is being followed. The man (Martin Donovan) explains he is a private eye hired to find her by the Order of Valtiel. That is just before he dies a horrible death and reality crumbles around Heather, who finds herself in the Silent Hill world of corruption that lies behind the real world. She escapes, only to be listed as a suspect in the man’s death. A fellow student (Kit Harrington of “Game of Thrones” as Vincent Cooper) helps her elude the police, but brings her toward the entrance to Silent Hill. The cult wants Heather to become the vessel in which their god can be reborn. Heather also is “the good part” of Alessa (Erin Pitt and Jodelle Ferland) who has turned Silent Hill into the nightmare it is after being sacrificed. (By the way, Silent Hill was built on old Indian property, and you know that is never good.) As you can tell, the story makes little sense, however, the film has outstanding visuals, including a room of knife-wielding nurses that only move themselves when they sense movement in the room. (During last fall’s Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios in Orlando, one of the haunted houses was based on “Silent Hill” and included the creepy nurses -- only now, after seeing the film, am I able to make the connection.) Some of the visuals are quite gruesome (home the mall’s hamburger joint really gets its meat) and even shocking; there’s even a spider with arms that carry skulls. Look for a short, but hoot performance by Malcolm McDowell as Vincent’s grandfather. Unfortunately, the only extra is a very brief (3:06) inside look. Grade: film 2.75 stars
Jeff Danna and Akira Yamaoka: Silent Hill Revelation 3D, original motion picture soundtrack (Lakeshore Records CD). “Silent Hill Revelation” is another horror film with a noteworthy score. Yamaoka provides the otherworldly textures and sound designs, while Danna creates the more emotional, harmonic music.
The Package (Anchor Bay, Blu-ray or standard DVD, R, 95 min.). This is an old-fashioned action movie, with lots of fisticuffs and automatic fire shooting. Steve Austin plays Tommy Wick, who is an enforcer/collector for Big Doug (Eric Keenleyside), a Seattle mob boss. Despite having some past bad blood with the recipient, Wick is asked to deliver a package to The German (Dolph Lundgren), an international crime lord. Not only will Wick be paid well, but his jailed brother’s debt to Big Doug will be wiped out. Soon word is out about the delivery and suddenly a lot of people -- a lot of violent people -- are after the package. Leading the charge is Devon (Darren Shahlavi). Other than a twist near the ending, there is nothing terribly new about the film, but it is well made and you will not be bored. Wick even gets to kill one guy with a single head bump! William B. Davis of “X-Files” fame has a small role. There are no bonus features. Grade: film 3 stars
A Nightmare on Elm Street Collection (Warner, 5 Blu-ray discs, R). This set gathers, for the first time on Blu-ray, all seven films in the original series, from 1984’s original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (look at Johnny Depp disappear into those sheets) through the sequels “Freddy’s Revenge,” “Dream Warriors,” “The Dream Master,” “The Dream Child” and “Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare.” Plus, there is Wes Craven’s “New Nightmare.” Each film retains its previous bonus material, plus disc five contains the new retrospective, “Fear Himself: The Life and Crimes of Freddy Krueger.” Krueger, iconically played by Robert Englund, is the killer that stalks teenagers’ dreams, and if you die in those dreams you are really dead. The bonus disc also includes two episodes from the “Freddy’s Nightmares” TV series and a featurette gallery on the show. Not all the films are terrific, but the series generally satisfied and the first film has become a classic. This is a new package, with better picture resolution and which takes up a lot less shelf space. It is recommended.