Stephen W. Browne Rants and Raves

December 26, 2012

Google hires Kurzweil, Singularity nears

Filed under: Science,Social Science & History — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:19 pm

Note: Cross-posted from my blog at The Marshall Independent.

A couple of weeks ago Google hired Ray Kurzweil to be its new director of engineering.

Google is best-known for its Internet search engine. In fact, the chances are good if you were looking into Kurzweil you might have been sent here by Google.

It’s unclear to me as yet what Kurzweil was hired to do at Google, but he is a pioneer in speech recognition technology, so it might have something to do with developing ways to ditch this keyboard and just tell your computer what you want it to do.

Uh, somehow I don’t think that’s going to make work around the office any easier. I already get weird looks because I like to compose aloud.

But what Kurweil is best-known for is the ideas he lined out in his book “The Singularity is Near.” Kurzweil thinks that in the not-so-distant future we’re going to have Artificial Intelligence, immortality, and powers and abilities that would seem godlike to us now.

The Technological Singularity is an idea that’s been kicking around for a while. The term was popularized by mathematician and SF author Vernor Vinge. Singularitarians can be classified with what’s called the Transhumanist Movement. which holds that we can and should transcend the limits of our biology and become more than human, superhuman.

The idea is that at a certain point in history possibly within our lifetime, our technology will have advanced so far that it is literally impossible to predict anything beyond that point. The analogy is with the physical singularity created by a black hole, from which no information can escape.

Of course, humans being what we are, that doesn’t prevent us from trying to picture what might lie on the other side of the Singularity.

There are a number of theoretical ways of reaching the Singularity, either gradually or in one breakthrough leap, but the standard model has it the Singularity happens when our machines get smarter than we are.

This is a prospect that is both exciting and kind of scary. If and when our machines become self-aware, who’s to know they might not say, “Hey thanks! Now who needs you?”

But if the Singularity is a scary idea, the alternative is just depressing, The Age of Failed Expectations.

That’s the notion that our knowledge and technology is approaching inherent limits and progress will start to slow down and eventually become almost static. We’ll see modest increases in human lifespan and not much more. Our laptops will have much more number crunching capacity, but we won’t be discussing the meaning of life with them. There’ll be an ever-increasing amount of stuff on the Internet, but most of it will be drivel and sorting through it will be as time-consuming and unproductive as the time you spend on Facebook.

I’m a technological optimist. Like William Faulkner, “I believe that man will not merely endure. He will prevail.”

But I have to admit, that’s my nature as an optimist. I believe it because I prefer to, not because I have any evidence either way.

And that’s the nature of the Singularity, the only way we’re going to find out is by living through it.

But I’ll be waiting to see what comes out of Google, now Kurzweil’s there.

December 21, 2012

Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Filed under: Culture,Movies — Stephen W. Browne @ 8:46 am

Note: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide of The Marshall Independent.

One day in the early 1930s, an Oxford don, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, was grading exam papers, when he was inspired to write on a sheet of blank paper, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

The rest of the story is still unfolding.

J.R.R. Tolkien published “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in September, 1937, with a print run of 1,500 copies, which sold out by December.

Further editions followed, and translations into other languages. In 1938 he received a letter from a publisher in Germany who was producing a translation, asking if his ancestry was “arisch.” (In fact the name is German, though not typical.)

Tolkien answered, “Thank you for your letter. I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by arisch. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.”

That probably tells you as much about Tolkien as anything. Witty, learned, upright, honorable, and fearlessly outspoken.

“The Hobbit” was followed by “The Lord of the Rings” and volumes and volumes of Tolkien’s notes and unfinished manuscripts put into some kind of order by his son Christopher after Tolkien’s death in 1973.

In 1977 “The Hobbit” was made into an animated film by Rankin/Bass studios. It wasn’t terrible, but in spite of some high-powered talent it just wasn’t what we’d been waiting for.

Then along came Peter Jackson and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy in 2001, 2002, and 2003. Jackson proved he’s the guy who can do it, so this time around there was no anxiety about “The Hobbit” on film.

Well… maybe a little.

“The Hobbit” is being released as a trilogy at least as long as LOTR. “An Unexpected Journey” will be followed by “The Desolation of Smaug” (2013), and “There and Back Again” (2014).

Jackson filmed both 2D and 3D versions, and used new digital technology with double the frames per second of conventional film. Three-D I can take or leave, but the visual effects did seem somehow more vivid.

So how are they going to stretch one book into a trilogy?

“An Unexpected Journey” didn’t actually seem overlong, even at 2 hours and 50 minutes, even at the midnight premier. And it ended in precisely the right place, right after Bilbo acquires the ring that figures so prominently in LOTR.

The film is faithful to the book, with some additions. Familiar characters from LOTR are retrofitted into “The Hobbit”: Elrond (Hugo Weaving), Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), and Saruman (Christopher Lee). Not to mention a cameo by Frodo (Elijah Wood) and old Bilbo (Ian Holm) that sets the stage for the whole story to be shown as a flashback.

For young Bilbo, Jackson cast British actor Martin Freeman, an inspired choice.

The role of Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy), mentioned only a few times in the cannon of Middle Earth, is expanded greatly and equipped with a chariot pulled by rabbits. More non-canonical characters are going to be interpolated into the trilogy such as elf warrior maidens.

What Jackson is doing is basically the same thing Tolkien did to the second edition of the book after he had fleshed out LOTR. Tolkien rewrote just enough of “The Hobbit” to make it a consistent introduction to LOTR. Likewise Jackson is fleshing it out with material from the appendices in LOTR to make it a more of a prequel to the LOTR trilogy.

Now say this very, very softly, but in some ways Jackson has improved on the books.

Lin Carter (1930-1988) a very bad writer but very good editor of fantasy fiction, once incurred the wrath of fandom by pointing out “The Hobbit” and LOTR taken together, is a very good work – with serious flaws.

One of them is that Tolkien couldn’t write female characters worth a damn, and hence potentially fascinating roles are relegated to walk-ons. Odd given the inspiration his mother and his wife gave to his work.

The temptation of elf-queen Galadriel is an important and moving scene, but that’s pretty much it for her in LOTR. Jackson gives her more screen time in “The Hobbit” and a role in events worthy of her stature.

Bilbo is given dialog telling why he’s sticking with Gandalf and the 13 dwarves, though he’d very much like to cut and run home, which shows real nobility of spirit. The kind ordinary English people showed in the dark days of WWII when LOTR was written.

I think Tolkien might have liked it.

December 19, 2012

“Anarchist Soccer Mom” talks about parents’ nightmare

Filed under: News commentary,Personal,Social Science & History — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:52 am

Note: Cross-posted on my newspaper blog at The Marshall Independent.

There is much talk on the Internet after Liza Long, an English teacher in a small college in Boise, Idaho, and mother of four, wrote a blog post that went viral.

Her post was originally titled “Thinking the Unthinkable.” Huffington Post and Gawker, changed the headline to “I am Adam Lanza’s mother.”

Long has a 13-year-old son, who from her description of his behavior, appears to be a psychopath. She wrote about her heart-rending decision to have him committed to a mental institution after he attacked her, and threatened to kill her and/or himself, more than once.

She’s been vilified by some, but there’ve also been a lot of people writing “That’s my brother!” or “That’s my son too!”

Me? I think she did the right thing. Actually I think she did the only thing. She’s a woman with three other children. She’s still able to physically restrain her 13-year-old, at the cost of some bruising, but probably won’t be able to in about another year.

Commitment of course, only delays the problem. Some people appear to be born… wrong somehow. Long’s son is of the highly intelligent kind, capable of being very charming when not enraged. When he’s older he may have learned to control himself to the point he can charm his way out of the institution and then we’ll have another predator unleashed on society – a very smart one.

I’m sorry if that sounds uncharitable, but you see I’ve known such. The brother of an old girlfriend was one. The wife of a cousin was another.

And by the way, I have a close male relative with Asberger’s Syndrome, the condition Adam Lanza has been identified as having, and he has never hurt anyone. His life has been made pretty miserable by his social awkwardness, and he’s pretty much unemployable because people are uncomfortable around him, but he is NOT a murderous psychopath!

Why are some, thankfully few, born that way? There are arguments over which psychiatric term is appropriate, but the English legal system used to use the term “morally insane,” which still seems a pretty good one to me.

Short answer, nobody knows.

Can they be cured?

Even shorter answer, no.

A cop who’d attended FBI courses on this type of personality said there is some indication they tend to grow a conscience around middle age. Unfortunately by that time they’re often doing hard time in prison. Which begs the question of whether they have actually developed a conscience – or they’ve learned how to fool the shrink.

This is the nightmare possibly worse than the families of the victims of Sandy Hook are experiencing now, and for the rest of their lives.

I remember years ago watching a documentary on serial killers, in the course of which they interviewed the mother of one of Ted Bundy’s victims.

I’ll always remember what she said when they asked her what she thought his parents might be going through.

“I’d rather have my daughter than their son,” she said.

P.S. I’ve written previously on over-diagnoses of “mental illness” here. Note also the cri de coeur from one reader.

I’m also going to go out on a limb and recommend a book I haven’t read yet. (I have seen an interview with the author.)
“Evil Genes: Why Rome Fell, Hitler Rose, Enron Failed and My Sister Stole My Mother’s Boyfriend” by Barbara Oakley.

December 17, 2012


Filed under: Op-eds — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:26 am

Note: This is my weekly syndicated column.

It’s happened again, this time more horrible than the last.

In Newtown, Connecticut, 20-year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother then went on a killing spree in Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 children and six adults. The details are horrifying.

The president called upon the country not to politicize this, and of course everyone did. There are calls for gun bans, or arming teachers, mental health programs, early intervention. Many have merit, none will ever be 100 percent effective.

In the outpouring of grief we need to keep mind of a few things. One is that spree killings are not increasing, and in fact have remained relatively constant for the last two generations.

What’s changed is our awareness of them as a nation, and I think that speaks well of us as a people. That strangers across this huge country are touched by the tragedy of people they will never meet, and want to reach out to them.

All of us with children can empathize with the searing pain of loss experienced by the parents and families of those innocent children. The president looked close to breaking down as he addressed the nation. I know I was when I saw the news on television.

We’ve shared grief and pride when we heard about the heroism of the principal who rushed the gunman without hesitation, teachers who hid students, one who died shielding them with her own body, a quick-thinking custodian who rushed through the halls giving warning.

What we have to cling to for the sake of our sanity is, keeping in mind the chance that our own children will become victims of a spree killer is statistically insignificant. Logically speaking, we should worry about them more during a lightning storm.

None of this matters to those who lost loved ones at all. For each of those who died, the world was damaged forever for many more.

The horrifying thing for us who are not there is not how likely, but how terrifyingly random it is. We cannot know when, or where someone will decide they want to die, and that they don’t want to die alone.

That’s all we can really know for sure about the motive of the suicidal spree killer. And one thing more. When someone does make that leap into darkness they will chose soft targets, large concentrations of vulnerable people.

I don’t propose to discuss the merits of the suggestions involving firearms or early intervention here. That we will have to work out over a long time, and consensus will be hard to reach.

But one thing I think we should think about now is how to harden the targets.

As a journalist I’ve accompanied police on school lockdown drills. I remember walking down a hallway with the officers, passing by one classroom where they looked through the window glass on the door to see students laughing, not taking it very seriously.

And I remember the grim matter-of-fact way the cop said, “Well they’re all dead in there.”

Every school has mandated a number of fire drills per school year. I’m old enough to remember the “duck and cover” bomb drills of the early nuclear age. One thing we could do now is to institute lockdown drills in all schools, do them regularly, and take them seriously.

Then we can discuss whether we should offer salary bonuses to teachers for putting in the time to get their firearms training and carry permit. That’s going to be a hot button issue for some time, but surely we can agree on the first step.

December 15, 2012

Review: Red Dawn

Filed under: Movies — Stephen W. Browne @ 9:27 am

Note: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide issue of The Marshall Independent.

“Red Dawn” is Dan Bradley’s remake of John Milius’ 1984 original. So why remake a Cold War action flick after the Cold War is over, and how?

Why is easy. “Red Dawn” (1984) grossed $38 million, the 20th highest grossing film of that year, ahead of “The Terminator.” It made film history as the first U.S. released film rated PG-13, and a Guinness Book of Records nod as “most violent film.”

How is a problem. The Soviet Union is on the dust heap of history, and Russia doesn’t look in good enough shape to invade anybody.

The original set up the invasion of America with a disintegrating NATO, a communist coup in Mexico, and a famine in Russia. All too plausible, then and now.

Saboteurs from Cuba and Nicaragua sneak across the border, and paratroopers descend on Calumet, Colorado, via false flag commercial aircraft. A mixture of plausible and implausible. Our southern border is notoriously porous, but staging an invasion force in total secrecy strains credulity.

“Red Dawn” (2012) posits a nationalist coup in Russia which then invades the United States with a coalition of allies including North Korea, which is responsible for holding down Spokane, Washington.

The first draft had China invading the U.S., but the Chinese understandably objected. China is a huge market for action films no one can afford to offend. Note recent films that include Chinese characters and locations, such as “Skyfall” and “Looper.”

America is softened up with an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) weapon that fries the power grid and all communications systems. The lights go out one night, next morning the paratroopers descend.

This plot device was also used in the mini-series Amerika (1987) and is terrifyingly plausible.

U.S. Marine Jed Eckert (Chris Hemsworth) is home on leave visiting his dad (Brett Cullen) the local sheriff, and his younger brother Matt (Josh Peck). Dad tells Jed to take his brother and whoever else they can find and head for his cabin in the hills.

After a period of chaos as the North Koreans clamp down and establish an occupation authority, Jed uses the knowledge of counter-insurgency he gained in Iraq to organize the Resistance.

This is where the remake is an improvement on the original. The resistance forms around a veteran with military skills who can train civilians. Attention is paid to training, tactics, and weaponry.

How do you get weapons equivalent to the enemy’s? You use what you have, kill some soldiers and take theirs.

It shows there’s a reason for military discipline, and a cost to ignoring it. Matt breaks cover during an operation to rescue his girlfriend Erica (Isabel Lucas) and gets a comrade killed.

The enemy is personified in Captain Cho (Will Yun Lee) as it was in the original by Russian Gen. Bratchenko (Vladek Sheybal), but there is no sympathetic Cuban Col. Ernesto Bella (Ron O’Neal) equivalent.

Two Hispanic characters are brought on as spear carriers, and you’d expect this to have a “we’re all Americans together” message. But then they’re given Anglo-Saxon names, Greg and Julie Goodyear (Julian Alcaraz and Alyssa Diaz) so the heck is the point?

The question of collaborators is brought up (“Had to happen,” Jed says) but the painful question of dealing with them is glossed over in the remake.

In the original the main character has to kill a traitor up close and personal. A comrade asks how they are different from their enemy if they do.

“Because we live here,” he replies, and shoots.

There’s none of that moral conflict in the remake.

The ending is kind of weak, without the resolution of the original.

But with all its weaknesses, it’s a pretty good action movie, based on a pretty good original.

Critical reaction was mixed about the original. One reviewer called it “John Milius’ absurd war fantasy that has the Red Army shooting civilians and raping women in Colorado.”

(The Red Army killing and raping civilians? Heavens, surely not!)

Twenty-eight years later the remake is doing respectable box office but critics are far more down on it, and I’m wondering what that says about us? “Red Dawn” has an unusually large disconnect between its popularity with audiences and critics.

Is it that an invasion by North Korea is unbelievable? Well, they do have the fourth largest army in the world, rigorously trained, brutal, and fanatic. Their equipment is antiquated, but the premise implies they’re equipped by someone else.

Or does “Red Dawn” make some critics uneasy with its portrait of an America which is not in fact invulnerable, not immune to the forces of history, and perhaps dangerously naive about the rest of the world?

Some scenes seem to make this point, but don’t hit you over the head with it. So go ahead and enjoy.

December 10, 2012

Review: Family life on the Disney channel

Filed under: Movies — Stephen W. Browne @ 12:17 pm

Note: This appeared in the print-only TV Guide issue of The Marshall Independent.

I have two children, a boy, 11, and a girl, 6, so you may well imagine the TV is on quite a lot at my house. And of course we have the Disney Channel.

Once upon a time you could assume cartoons were OK for kids to watch and Disney was always a safe bet.

Alas, autres temps – autres moeurs. These days cartoons are definitely not a safe bet if they are on much after dinner. I try, often in vain, to keep my kids away from “Family Guy,” “American Dad,” and have been known to throw a fit if I come in and find “South Park” on.

I enjoy them myself, but I don’t want my kids picking up the language, and I don’t think it’s time for them to learn what some mommies and daddies do with those funny leather costumes yet.

My youngest loves the Disney Channel, but I’ve paid closer attention to Disney after a single mother friend warned me “Hannah Montana” set an example of vain self-absorption.

Currently the industry seems to have ceded the family sitcom genre to Disney. So perhaps those of us whose family situation is less than ideal should see what they’re showing our kids about families.

My daughter likes two Disney family sitcoms: “Good Luck Charlie” now in it’s third season, and “Jessie” now in it’s second.

Both have much to recommend them for children’s entertainment. Both feature strong female leads for your daughters’ edification, and are absent prime time staples such as drug problems, unwanted pregnancies etc.

“Jessie” is about a 19-year-old Texas military brat who in an act of rebellion moves to New York, and instead of failure and loss of innocence lands a cushy job as nanny to an international brood of adopted kids.

High-powered film director Morgan Ross (Charles Esten) and his supermodel-turned businesswoman wife Christina (Christina Moore), have one natural child Emma (Peyton List), and adopted Ravi (Karan Brar) from India, Zuri (Skai Jackson) from Uganda, and Luke (Cameron Boyce) from Detroit. (They told him he was from Krypton.)

That’s a lot for a power couple who are seldom home and their child-hating butler Bertram (Kevin Chamberlin) to handle, so they hired Jessie (Debbie Ryan).

Ryan as Jessie is a delight to watch. She’s animated, energetic, and acts with her face and body language, a natural physical comic. Zuri is a delightful little smart-mouth who dishes out the sass like a pro, and Ravi is often hilarious doing the comic Indian-accented shtick, evidently one of the last ethnic stereotypes you can safely mine for comedy.

In spite of the title, Charlotte “Charlie” Duncan (Mia Talerico) is not the main protagonist of “Good Luck Charlie.” That honor belongs to her sister Teddy Duncan (Bridgit Mendler).

Teddy is the second oldest of Amy (Leigh-Allyn Baker) and Bob Duncan’s (Eric Allan Kramer) five children. Teenaged Teddy, big brother PJ (Jason Dolley), and middle child Gabe (Bradley Steven Perry) are still getting used to having barely post-toddler Charlie around when Amy gets pregnant with
Toby, who is born in the back of an ice cream truck with Teddy’s help in the third season.

The hook in this series is Teddy realizes she’ll have left home while Charlie is still very young, and so she keeps a video diary for her, because she wants to help her be good. Each entry ends with a variation of “Good luck Charlie.”

This is a delightful premise, and I’m happy my daughter has an example of a big girl who is responsible and seriously concerned about the example she’s setting her adored little sister.

Mom Amy is often a ditz, but is fiercely protective of her brood. Dad Bob is sometimes clueless that not everybody shares his passionate interest in his business, exterminating bugs, but a stand-up dad for sure.

Both series show kids looking out for each other. In “Jessie” a brood of biologically unrelated kids are brought together by flighty parents who love them, but can’t be bothered to raise them. That responsibility is laid on Jessie, scarcely out of childhood herself. Sorry, that’s probably not the message Disney wanted to send… unless they’re making a point very subtly.

In “Good luck Charlie” the elder children of philoprogenitive parents pitch in to help raise their younger siblings, often to comic effect, but they are doing their bit, and their parents are very involved.

“Jessie” gets comedy out of children left to their own devices a little too much. “Charlie” gets the laughs out of family members a little too much into each others’ business.

“Jessie” portrays an upside to what might be a sad situation. “Charlie” shows the funny downside to a loving but exasperating family.

Both are funny, upbeat, optimistic, and not a bad way for your kids to spend a half-hour.

You can hope they’ll take it to heart so you can sing with Bridgit Mendler in the “Charlie” theme song, “You’re going to love how you turn out to be.”

December 3, 2012

Review: Breaking Dawn, Part 2

Filed under: Movies — Stephen W. Browne @ 6:51 am

Note: This was published in the print-only weekend supplement of The Marshall Independent. Last year I reviewed “Breaking Dawn, Part 1.”

I went to see “Breaking Dawn – Part 2” on the understanding that I’d have to go into Witness Protection if I panned it.
Well OK, not that bad.
So at the end of BD1, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart), now Mrs. Edward Cullen after she and her vampire boyfriend Edward (Robert Pattinson) married and conceived a child.
Bella had an unusually difficult labor after a full-term pregnancy lasting a few weeks, gave birth to a daughter Renesmee (Mackenzie Foy), and was saved only at the last moment by being “turned” into a vampire.
The child and Native American werewolf Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner), the third wheel in the Edward-Bella-Jacob love triangle imprinted on Renesmee, thus neatly resolving the triangle.
Fortunately Renesmee is healthy and a bit precocious. As in grows to be six or seven-year old sized in a month or two precocious. This is going to continue to full maturity, and stop, this isn’t a case of progeria. The good news is, Jacob isn’t going to have to wait too long to have a physically mature soul mate.
The bad news is, they attract the attention of the Volturi, a coven of vampires so wise and powerful they rule the vampire world from Volterra, Italy, a country not especially known for vampire folklore.
The vampire losers in the ancient wars of domination are Romanians (who somehow have Slavic accents), from the country most known for vampire legends. It also turns out there are Turkish vampires and Amazonian Indian vampires.
The Volturi it seems, are informed Renesmee is an immortal child, turned into a vampire by the classic method of being bitten by one.
OK this is pretty blatantly derivative of “Interview with the Vampire” but you’ve got to admit it’s pretty scary. Think of a child with superhuman strength, speed, and an uncontrollable thirst for blood throwing a tantrum.
Small wonder the Volturi condemn all such children to death. And for real chilling, you see the Volturi vampire Jane (Dakota Fanning) hardly out of childhood herself, casually tossing a child into a bonfire.
Alice Cullen (Ashley Green) whose special power is visions of the futures that might be, sees the Volturi on the march against the Cullen coven. The Cullens gather allies in an attempt to convince the Volturi that Renesmee is not an abomination, and for a battle if it comes to that. Jacob and the Quileute tribe of Native American werewolves join them.
Meantime Alice bugs out.
All this sets the scene for the final confrontation with the Volturi, led by Aro (Michael Sheen) who is a kinda cool villain. His villainy is of the smarmy sociopath kind who kills you with a sorrowful look of regret on his face. Sort of like that Italian organization The Black Hand, who used to apologize as they killed their victims.
BD2 has its moments. There are two moments of comic relief, though you’ll miss them if you blink.
When Jacob refer to Renesmee as “Nessie” Bella screams at him, “You nicknamed my daughter after the Loch Ness Monster!”
Before the confrontation with the Volturi, American Patriot and Revolutionary War veteran vampire Garrett (Lee Pace) turns to the lovely Slavic vampire Kate (Casey LaBow) with a profession of love.
“Woman, if we live through this I’ll never leave your side,” Garrett vows.
“Now you tell me,” Kate mutters.
So what’s right with this film? Other than the fact it’s over now I mean.
Visually, it’s beautiful. The scenery is stunning and the cinematography does it justice.
Makeup, some of these vampires are really weird-looking.
What’s wrong with it?
Edward and Bella have no on-screen chemistry. The skyrocket vampire sex that is too dangerous for humans seems nonetheless kind of tepid. Not like the sublimated sex in the old Hammer Films that terrified my adolescence.
And admit it, don’t you want to see it at least partly because Kristen Stewart wiped her nose on Robert Pattinson’s heart in public?
And what gives? Alice is way more beautiful than Bella, and Jacob way more masculine looking than Edward. And at the climactic scene, it turns out that Alice is the strongest, cleverest, most powerful of all. It makes you wonder why this is all about Edward and Bella at all.
The plot devices are derivative, not a sin in itself. The half-vampire child sired by a vampire on a human woman is right out of the Bloodrayne series, itself from a video gameThe ending is kind of a cheat, “And they all lived happily ever after” once saved by a gimmick the movies had not set up before, though the books might have.
If you’re a Twilight fan, you’ll love it to pieces. If you’re not, well it’s not terrible.

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