Saturday, November 17, 2012

Seriocomic running

Because the Twilight series famously does not need to advertise in order to sell tickets (plenty of tickets), I had not seen this poster for the series' final installment until last Friday night.

And then I just laughed. And laughed. And laughed.

I mean, they've got to be kidding with this poster, right?

The insufferable love triangle at the core of this series looks like they're running -- their bodies all appear in running poses.

Their faces? An entirely different matter. Their faces are perfectly still and perfectly stolid, not to mention typically humorless. They display none of the effort that would normally be associated with running.

Admittedly, it's hard to capture movement in a still photo. All you can do is show legs and arms in familiar running poses, and let us assume that they are moving forward with a certain alacrity, especially if they are being chased by creatures who mean to do them harm.

But the faces just belie any sense of forward momentum these characters might have.

I've written before about how realistic running is one of the most surprisingly difficult tasks for actors to master, and there are only a small number of them who excel at it. In fact, in this post, I sung the praises of unequaled run-actor Tom Cruise.

But come on. Even for a shot that is clearly posed rather than being extracted from the finished film, this is pretty lifeless. It's some of the worst photo shoot directing and photo shoot acting I've ever seen. (These days, the actors may not have even posed for it. It's certainly possible their heads were just Photoshopped on running bodies. In fact, that would explain a lot.)

You could argue that a really intense runner sometimes does have a perfectly stoical expression, one that results from total concentration and focus. But the effect of having all three of these characters wear that same expression, plus the fact that they look like they're going for a light jog rather than outrunning death, just saps all the intended drama out of this image, rendering it utterly comedic. The fact that these movies have always taken themselves so seriously only makes it funnier.

All this said, the movie does have a pretty impressive 68 Metascore* as of this writing. (I wrote this yesterday -- with the new Friday reviews, it's now down to 53.) Which makes me wonder if the same thing is going on here that went on in the Harry Potter series, which is the most similar model for the way these movies have been released (especially releasing the adaptation of the series' final book in two parts).

Namely, with the arrival of the final movie, a nagging sense of prolonged water treading might finally be dispelled. I think the reason I loved Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as much as I did was that we finally got to see this big showdown that everything had been building toward. With that series in particular, and with me as a viewer in particular, the momentum stalled almost to a complete halt during the middle movies. (Everything after Prisoner of Azkaban, really, until the final movie.)

Now, I have no idea what has happened in the plot of this series, since I watched only the first movie, and only then so that I could have it as a cultural touchpoint. But I can only assume that the Twilight saga has been leading up to some kind of similarly epic confrontation between ever-growing legions of good characters and bad ones. (I actually do know that there's some icky stuff about Bella's pregnancy in this last book, having read a shocked negative review of the book in Entertainment Weekly at the time it was released.) And maybe this sense of something finally happening makes this final entry in the series better than the rest.

So I guess I better catch up on Twilight: New Moon, Twilight: Eclipse and Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 before I go to the theater and see Breaking Dawn Part 2 this weekend, right?

Wow, I couldn't even type that with a straight face.


Thaddeus said...

Let me tell you, dude, I was a great cross-country runner. You've been right in pointing out before that Tom Cruise always looks great running (and we all know Mel Gibson seems to love a brisk race, too), as does Will Smith (an actual track star).

But one of my biggest wtf moments came when I watched the second Bourne movie. Simply put, Matt Damon runs like he's not in any hurry to get anywhere; it's sad.

But, yes, the faces of these people on that poster are atrocious. They all look like they're posing - which they are - yet the image is supposed to convey real movement. It fails completely, unless you're the kind of person whose sense of pop culture starts and ends with the WB, Fox, and the last 18-odd years of MTV.

In short: f--k.

Vancetastic said...

I was also a cross country runner, though I hesitate to describe myself as great. I had my moments.

Either you've mentioned Damon's bad running to me before, or someone else has, or it occurred to me independently. I don't really like any of the (two) Bourne movies I've seen, and maybe his bad running was a subtle part of that.

As if we should expect verisimilitude of any kind from a Twilight movie?