ORBzine - Horror 2008 - Movie Reviews

TITLE & REVIEW

Constantine

Constantine This is adapted from the Garth Ennis comic Hellblazer.

Constantine (Keanu Reeves - The Matrix ) and his sidekick Shia Leboeuf ( Transformers ) team up with Police detective Rachel Weiss .

Satan (Peter Stormare - Armageddon ) is engaged in a perpetual war against the forces of Good, including the Archangel Gabriel ( Tilda Swinton ).

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  • Frailty

    Frailty FBI Agent Powers Booth ( ) is investigating a serial killer who calls himself God's Hand. Redneck Matthew McConaghy tells him a story about his childhood (when he looked like Gary Giggles from Spy Kids 2 & 3 ). His father (Bill Paxton - Terminator, Aliens ) claimed to have visions from JeHoVaH, telling him to kidnap and kill people. Naturally, Paxton and his youngest son do just that.

    This is a wonderful directorial debut from Paxton. The tension is notched up wonderfully, and the cast acquit themselves wonderfully. The final twist - well, it is a real kick in the teeth.

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  • The Dark

    The Dark Maria Bello takes her young daughter to spend a few weeks with ex-husband Sean Bean ( Goldeneye ). Unfortunately, Bean lives on a remote farm in Wales, on a clifftop. Then the daughter goes missing ...

    Local crofter Maurice Roeves ( Dr Who: Caves of Androzani ), despite being a Scotsman in Wales, manages to provide exposition. It seems that there is an evil presence, reminiscent of Pet Semetary and Ringu . The movie is based on a novel entitled Sheep!, but this seems a reference to sheep-like followers of Cults (as in The Wicker man ). That said, there are some scenes reminiscent of Black Sheep !

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  • Mirrors

    Mirrors This was Directed by Frenchman Alexandre Aja and filmed in Europe (sitting in for an American city). It is yet another remake of an Asian horror film.

    Kiefer Sutherland is a paranoid, angsty, gun-toting ex-cop. Quite reminiscent of his character in 24, in fact. He gets a job as security guard in a derelict Department store.

    The eeevil entity can jump from one mirror to another, and is not limited to the mirrors in the Department Store. In fact, it can manifest itself through any reflective surface! Kiefer must protect his sister ( Amy Smart ), his wife and kids from the monster.

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  • Dead Zone

    Dead Zone This is a David Cronenberg adaptation of a book written by Stephen King . It is a lot less visceral than the director's usual work, but it is still competently directed.

    John Smith (Christopher Walken - View To A Kill ) is in a car crash. He wakes up from a coma five years later, and thanks to Dr Herbert Lom ( Revenge of the Pink Panther ) he discovers that he has psychic powers. Any time he touches a person he can see terrible events that have or will befall them.

    Smith's life becomes a bit episodic from there on. For example, Sheriff Tom Skerrit ( Alien ) is hunting a serial killer. Nine women have been killed over the previous three years, and the FBI and State Troopers cannot seem to help.

    Anthony Zerbe ( Licence to Kill ) hires Smith to tutor his young son.

    Greg Stilson (Martin Sheen - A.L.F. ) is running for election as a Third Party candidate. Smith forsees that Stilson will get elected ... but that this is a very bad thing! Can Smith change the future?

    Presumably the makers of The West Wing never saw this!

  • Dead Zone (TV Series)
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  • In Dreams

    In Dreams Annette Benning stars in this copy of The Eyes of Laura Mars , directed by Neil Jordan . It is chilling and noir, but with a poor ending. Stephen Rea, Aiden Quinn and Robert Downey junior lend support.

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  • Jeepers Creepers Franchise

    Jeepers Creepers 2

    Jeepers Creepers 2 This is set the same week as the original. A Farmer (Ray Wise - Robocop, Swamp Thing ) loses his son to the Creeper. Naturally, he sets out for some payback.

    The Creeper's new target is a bus-load of stereotypical High School Jocks and cheerleaders driving home from the Big Game. One of the cheerleaders ( Nicki Aycox ) starts having psychic flashes of the previous victims ...

    While this may lack the originality of the original, being as it is a sequel, this is actually in many ways a better film. The mid-point twist of the first film is a genre shift that turns it from crime/slasher thriller to supernatural monster movie. In contrast, this is a simple supernatural horror from the outset. The flying monster does not mess about in a big truck for no reason. Instead it just flies about and does monsterous things.

    If there is one flaw in the film it is the choice of victims. This is what John Carpenter would have referred to as a Dead Teenager Movie. It would have been improved if the bus had been full of grown men, like in The Thing - Carpenter's great success after his own slasher masterpiece, Halloween . What if the convicts from HBO prison drama Oz were hunted by the Creeper? Think of it as Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead ... only good. As it is, Ahab the farmer has to be the token grown-up in the film.

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  • Hollow Man Franchise

    Hollow Man 2

    Hollow Man 2 This is a straight-to-Video sequel. Seattle Police Detective Peter Facinelli ( Supernova ) is assigned to guard scientist Laura Regan from invisible Special Forces soldier Michael Griffin (Christian Slater - Interview With The Vampire ).

    Apparently when you are invisible, radiation damages your cells. Griffin wants a secret formula known as the buffer - a bit like the Counteragent in Invisible Man (1999)

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  • Hostel Franchise

    Hostel

    Hostel A couple of young American men are backpacking their way across Europe when they get invited to stay at a hostel in a remote village in central Europe. Unfortunately the place is run by the Elite Hunting Club - a group of rich thrill-seekers who torture and kill for sport.

    This effort, written and directed by Eli Roth , and we can thank it for kick-starting the Torture Porn sub-genre of Horror movie.

    The highlight of the film is a cameo by the always-impressive Rick Hoffman ( Blood Work ).

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  • Hostel 2

    Hostel 2 Taking up where the first film left off, the Hostel is still in business - torturing and murdering backpackers.

    Yes, it is obviously yet more torture-porn crap. But this is slightly different from the first one. To start with, we get to meet a couple of first-time clients. Richard Burgi ( Starship troopers 2 ) and his buddy, Roger Bart (Revenge), are American businessmen out to try something new. And the Elite Hunting Club offers them the next big thing.

    Another change is, this time the victims are GIRLS. Yes, predictable damsel-in-distress stuff, but the twist with the Last Girl is almost impressive.

    ALMOST.

    Everything in it is telegraphed in advance, there is nothing too original. Some of the gore, perhaps - but then, that is what this genre is about. It is obvious who is going to die, but the manner of their deaths is where the creativity went.

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  • Hostel Part III

    Hostel Part III Thomas Kretschmann ( Stendahl Syndrome ) runs the Las Vegas branch of the Elite Hunting Club. Unfortunately he has not learned what the home base learned - that top security is vital for the smooth running of the operation. However, his branch - set in a disused Hotel/casino - has the most lax security so far.

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  • Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise

    Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Pool

    Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Pool Alison, the Last Girl of the previous films, is now pregnant. Freddy comes back again - using her unborn child's dreams, and bumping off her friends. But Freddy's mother appears in dreams too, trying to protect her son's victims.

  • Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)
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  • Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

    Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) Genre star Katie Cassidy was a pretty blonde in Supernatural , a gorgeous brunette in Harpers Island and is now back to average-looking Blonde. Like the rest of the cast she is ten years too old to convincingly play a teenager, but that is not necessarily the film's biggest problem. She and her BF (John from Sarah Connor Chronicles ), like the other teenagers in Springfield, are having nightmares about the gravely Rorschach-like voice of Jackie Earl Haley ( Watchmen ). School headmaster Clancy Brown ( Highlander ) is hiding a few secrets.

    We all know what the story is, but this version manages a few twists.

  • Nightmare on Elm Street 5: Dream Pool
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  • Boogeyman Franchise

    Boogeyman

    Boogeyman A young man is haunted by memories of his childhood, when he was menaced by a supernatural creature. However, events send him back to his childhood home where he must finally confront the monster. Yes, it is a generic storyline also used in films like Darkness Falls . However, the first two acts of the film are very suspenseful indeed ...

    The climax of the film is a real let-down. All the suspense built up throughout the first two acts is blown away by the revelation that the monster is dodgy low-budget CGI SPFX!

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  • Boogeyman 3

    Boogeyman 3 This is the second sequel to an original that was well-directed and taut, but let down by terrible CGI in the climactic third act. This is the most successful attempt at a creating a original American franchise of supernatural suspense films, rather than just adapting Asian films for the American market

    The story starts with the Boogeyman stalking a college girl. One of them is daughter of a famous shrink recently killed at his Asylum. Presumably this is a link to the previous film in the series.

    The college kids are the usual predictable bunch of stereotypes, starting with the smart brunette girl (usually the Last Girl) and her hunky but half-witted BF. The group is rounded out by the slutty blonde friend, Token Black Guy and Foreign Exchange Student (an Australian this time).

    The premise seems to be that the people most susceptible to the Boogeyman are people who believe in him. Our heroine then goes around trying to convince everyone that she is right, and the Boogeyman is really after her - making THEM susceptible to him as well! Nice work, sweetheart!

    The Boogeyman stalks the heroine, bumping off her friends in exotic ways and then making it look like accidents. He can also appear in dreams and nightmares - like a cut-price Freddy Kreuger, without the style or one-liners. The CGI is not as bad as in the original (which is not saying much), but that is no reason to over-use it. Suspense works when you DO NOT show the monster. This is just predictable!

    Jayne Wisener gets a tiny walk-on part as a college girl named Amy. Her scene at the end is the only part worth watching.

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  • Death Note Franchise

    Death Note

    Death Note The Horror movie that took Japan by storm, they say. In fact, like most Asian J-Horror films this is a supernatural suspense thriller, not a simplistic slasher like Western horror films have become.

    Criminals start to drop dead of heart attacks. The police, naturally, are baffled. They blame a serial killer who is codenamed Kira.

    The killer is a law student who discovered that sometimes people accused of crimes get away with it. You know, due to lack of evidence, unreliable witnesses, the pesky fact of their innocence ... And when he gets hold of a magic book that kills anyone whose name is written in it, the student does not hesitate to kill anyone he takes a dislike to.

    The Japanese Police call in the greatest detective in the world, a reclusive figure known as L. He begins, step by step, to unmask Kira. How far will Kira go to protect himself?

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  • Death Note 2: The Last Name

    Death Note 2: The Last Name A copycat killer, Kira 2, uses a TV broadcast to order everyone to do as Kira says. Many young people obey instantly - this is Japan, after all, where morality is over-simplified. Western concepts like Justice is only the will of the strong are overridden by Might Makes Right. Power Corrupts is ignored in favour of My boss, right or wrong. Police officers who try to enforce the law are instantly killed by the new Kira!

    L and the Special Unit begin to close in on the new killer. But things get more complicated than ever. The Gods of Death (that is how the subtitles translate it, though from the context Spirit or Demon might be better) have additional supernatural powers, which they use at the whim of the book-owners.

    This is a great sequel - developments were foreshadowed in the first film, and everything is brought to a natural conclusion in this one.

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  • Final Destination Franchise

    Final Destination 2

    Final Destination 2

  • Final Destination
    [August 2000 ]
  • Final Destination 3
    [February 2006 ]
  • The Final Destination 3-D (AKA Final Destination 4)
    [Final Destination Franchise ]
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  • The Final Destination 3-D (AKA Final Destination 4)

    Final Destination 4 Yes, there was a trilogy but now the triangle has been squared, now we have yet another franchise that will not die. Why should the producers care? After all, the Saw series is far inferior to this one, and yet is still making vast sums of money for its investors.

    To be fair, this one actually has a new gimmick. It is part of the new wave of 3-D revival films. Yes, probably thanks in part to Spy-Kids 3-D by Robert Rodriguez we now have a rash of these 1980s-style 3-d films.

    The previous films had signature kills. The second one was slicing wires. The third was crushing brain injuries. This time, predictably because it is 3-D, is things flying at the camera, and through the victim.

    The victims are a bunch of students who attend a Nascar race when there's a multiple pile-up and an entire stand full of audience people is slaughtered in a fiery inferno. Krista Allen is a hot soccer-mom, certainly cast against type but it is nice to see her in a different type of role. Token Black Guy Mykelita Williamson ( Species 2 ) is the security guard.

  • Final Destination
    [August 2000 ]
  • Final Destination 3
    [February 2006 ]
  • Final Destination 5
    [Final Destination Franchise ]
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  • Final Destination 5

    Final Destination 5

  • Final Destination
    [August 2000 ]
  • Final Destination 3
    [February 2006 ]
  • The Final Destination 3-D (AKA Final Destination 4)
    [Final Destination Franchise ]
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  • Underworld Franchise

    Underworld: Rise of the Lycans

    Underworld: Rise of the Lycans This is the back-story hinted at in the first film in the series - the story of how the war between Vampires and Lycans began. It is a prequel, filmed after the first two, so it contains lots of familiar faces.

    The entire franchise has been built around Kate Beckinsale. This film is set before her character became a Vampire, so the role of ass-kicking Vamp babe is filled by Viktor's daughter Rhona Mitra . She has a forbidden affair with Lucien, an enslaved Lycan. This leads on to a Spartacus style uprising, as the werewolf slaves revolt against their Vampire masters.

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  • Underworld: Evolution
  • Underworld: Awakening
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  • Underworld

    Underworld Seline ( Kate Beckinsale ) is a Vampire assassin who hunts down werewolves. The two clans are well-organised, and use hi-tech weaponry!

    Corvin (Scott Speedman) is an American tourist. Seline must stop the Werewolves from getting their claws on him.

    Meanwhile, a lot of intrigue goes on among the vamps - including Sophia Myles and Seline's sire, Viktor (Bill Nighy - POTC: Dead Man's Chest ).

  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
  • Underworld: Evolution
  • Underworld: Awakening
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  • Underworld: Evolution

    Underworld: Evolution This takes up where the previous film left off.

    Seline ( Kate Beckinsale ) and Corvin (Scott Speedman) are on the run in Hungary. The main werewolf and vampire factions were wiped out in the first film, but new antagonists pop up.

    Markus (Tony Curran - League of Extraordinary Gentlemen ), the third and final vampire elder, is now a super-powerful hybrid. Corvin's own hybrid powers manifest themselves fully, giving us the opportunity to watch extensive carnage courtesy of well-sculpted CGI monsters.

    Derek Jacobi and his SWAT Team do a clean-up job. They have their own agenda, concerning Markus' twin brother - the first ever werewolf!

  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
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  • Underworld: Awakening
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  • Underworld: Awakening

    Underworld: Awakening The veil is gone, and humans know that Vamps and Lycans exist. Within a week they have mass-produced silver bullets and UV weapons, and start a genocidal purge of bloodsuckers and man-eaters.

    Selene ( Kate Beckinsale ) wakes up after a dozen years in cryo-sleep. Evil scientist Stephen Rea ( Interview With the Vampire ) was using her and other prisoners to make a special formula. Sandrine Holt and Wes Bentley ( P2, Hunger Games ) feature as scientists in the villain's lab. Dyson the werewolf cop from Lost Girl pops up too.

    Selene teams up with India Eisley , the cliched Creepy little girl from J-Horror flicks. They go in search of other vamps. Yes, somehow the vamps are now the good guys and the Lycans are villains.

    There are three separate writing credits on this film, which means that at least 50% of the script was rewritten twice. The middle credit is given to J Michael Straczynski himself, the brains behind Babylon 5 , but that is no saving grace. The film is riddled with plot holes and non-sequiturs as a result of its hotch-potch origins. Shocking that for a film about vamps and lycans, the real monster is Frankenstein's screenplay.

  • Underworld: Rise of the Lycans
  • Underworld
  • Underworld: Evolution
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  • Twilight Franchise

    Twilight

    Twilight Director Catherine Hardwick is best known for teen drama Thirteen. The core of this story is teen angst, and the director gets great performances out of her young leads.

    The heroine is Bella ( Kirsten Stewart ), a teenage girl who goes to live with her divorced dad (Billy Burke - Revolution ), who is the sheriff of a small town in Washington State, Northwest USA. She falls for local boy Edward (Robert Pattinson - Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire ), but there is something unusual about him ...

    Edward lives with his foster-family, led by an albino doctor (Peter Facinelli - Supernova, Hollow Man 2 ). One of the foster-sisters is Nikki Reed , the director's discovery from Thirteen.

    Finally, by the end of the Second Act the teenage drama is set aside and the thriller subplot emerges. A trio of ravenous vamps (including Rachel Lefevre , a girl who looks like a young Nancy Allen ) are passing through the area, eating humans along the way. One of them decides that Edward's play-thing would make a nice meal ...

  • Twilight
  • Twilight: New Moon
  • Twilight: Eclipse
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 1)
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 2)
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  • Twilight: New Moon

    Twilight: New Moon The Cullen Clan leave town for the next few decades. Bella ( Kirsten Stewart ) hangs out with her backup, Jacob the Native American. It turns out that Jacob and the other teenage boys of his gang are ... Werewolves! Just as well, because the evil redhead vamp from the first film is still hanging around.

    The ending, somewhat tagged on, involves the Volturi - an aristocratic clan of Vampire Elders led by Michael Sheen (the Werewolf leader in Underworld ) and Christopher Heyderdal ( Sanctuary ). They enforce the laws of the vampire community, to ensure that they do not come to the attention of human Inquisitors.

  • Twilight
  • Twilight: New Moon
  • Twilight: Eclipse
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 1)
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 2)
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  • Twilight: Eclipse

    Twilight: Eclipse Nothing has actually changed from the start of the previous film. Bella ( Kristen Stewart ) is still being courted by Edward the vamp AND Jacob the werewolf. Victoria (who now looks like Bryce Dallas Howard ) survived the first movie and is still running loose in the woods. The werewolves care more about scaring off the Cullen Clan (the friendly vamps) than about actually hunting the bitch.

    Someone is building an army of new vamps by killing lots of people in Seattle. The Volturi, who are supposed to keep vamps from high-profile acts, know all about it but do not care enough to intervene. This all builds up to a violent climax.

    This is episode 3 of a 4-book series. It ends one dragged-out story arc, but there is yet more to come. It is padded out even more than Peter Jackson 's adaptation of The Hobbit . Yes, like the Harry Potter series the final book has to be split in two.

  • Twilight
  • Twilight: New Moon
  • Twilight: Eclipse
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 1)
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 2)
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  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn

    Twilight: Breaking Dawn Bella and Edward finally get married. Everyone is invited, even Irina ( Maggie Grace ), a strawberry blonde she-vamp whose lover was eaten by werewolves a couple of movies ago. Jacob is the only one not happy about Team Edward winning, but the rest of the wolf tribe respect Bella's choice and prevent Jacob from doing anything stupid.

    Bella and Edward head off for their honeymoon. They have their own private island near Rio. Why they want somewhere near the equator is not explained. They would get far more hours of winter darkness in Tasmania or New Zealand.

    This series has equated sex with death, specifically by the vampiric bite. And as soon as the couple consumate their honeymoon, the implications of violence are soon there. The bed is broken, Bella ends up bruised and battered ... and then, somehow, she gets pregnant!

    Bella gets sequestered in the Cullen home, back in Washington State. Her vampiric unborn child is slowly draining the life out of her. Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli - Supernova, Hollow Man 2 ) is a Doctor, but he displays a complete lack of both medical knowledge and scientific curiosity. It takes weeks for anyone to think of replacing her depleted blood supply!

    Jacob is shocked and horrified at the idea of a vamp foetus inside his friend. His pack-mates, formerly supportive of Bella, now decide that she has breached the treaty between them and the Vamps. They decide to kill her, while Jacob and a couple of his friends decide to save her.

    The vamps seem to be less powerful than in the first film. When they play baseball they can run faster than the speed of sound, but here they face a real threat of being chased down by big CGI doggies.

    There is an after-credits sequence involving the Volturi. They want the half-vamp child, which nicely sets up the next film. Yes, this entire movie is just a SETUP - nothing of interest actually happens. Except Jacob's reaction when he first sees Bella's child ... but that is just plain creepy!

  • Twilight
  • Twilight: New Moon
  • Twilight: Eclipse
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 1)
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 2)
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  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Part 2)

    Twilight: Breaking Dawn As the final book in the Twilight series, this ties up lots of loose ends. The Volturi close in on the Cullens, who are harbouring Bella's mutant child Renee Smee. Even the fact she is also known as Nessie (yes, Jacob nicknamed her after the Lough Ness Monster) does not help this film get over its first huge flaw, the girl's name!

    Irina ( Maggie Grace ) sees the child and thinks she is an abomination, a child-vamp like in Interview With The Vampire . The Volturi must protect the secrecy of vampirism by destroying such abominations. This is their new motivation for seeking a climactic confrontation with the Cullens, so the storyline can be given an action-packed conclusion.

    Bella's escape plan is to buy fake IDs, courtesy of Bunk from The Wire.

    The Cullens want to make a fight of it. They team up with a lot of renegade vamps, as well as the local werewolves. However, the villainous Volturi have an army twice the size.

    The climactic battle has both sides led by centuries-old vampires who commanded armies centuries before you were even born, to quote the famous Frank Langella line from Dracula (1979) . However, these Immortal warriors show no idea of strategy or tactics. The vamps just run at each other as fast as they can, jump and grapple with each other mid-air. That is it. No weapons, no well-choreographed martial arts scenes ...

    Despite the lack of choreography in the fight scenes, there is one thing this movie adds to the vampire concept. Several vampires have superpowers! The precog's ability to see the future was established in the first film, to provide foreshadowing and a small amount of tension to the plot. Other superpowers include the ability to manipulate water. One girl is a walking taser, able to zap even the most powerful vamp just by touching them. Bella's power, in keeping with her status as a care-giver and submissive, allows her to shield herself and Edward from any harm. In the end it all boils down to one question. Can a werewolf outrun a vamp? Remember, it is established in the first film that the vamps can run faster than the speed of sound! We also get to see what happens when a telepath reads a precog's mind.

  • Twilight
  • Twilight: New Moon
  • Twilight: Eclipse
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 1)
  • Twilight: Breaking Dawn (Pt 2)
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