Monday, November 24, 2008

Twilight, the Movie

Well, the reviews for Twilight are pretty much as I expected. Rotten Tomatoes brings in a 44% fresh, which is the positive way of saying 56% rotten. But given the hype surrounding the movie which sets up a nearly unreachable bar, the fact that the story/movie is aimed at teenage girls who by default are given second class status as far as anything they like and value, and the truth that movie critics in general are cultural snobs, I'm not at all surprised by this.

I saw it this afternoon. I waited until the weekend rush was over, horrified by the prospect of sitting in a theater packed with teenage girls raised in the age when apparently public viewing venues differ from one's home only in the number of stalls in the bathroom given how much talking, texting, and general disregard for fellow movie viewers goes on. My patience was rewarded since I had the theater to myself save for a dozen other hold-outs, all of whom maintained both a respectful distance and a polite silence throughout the entire two hour film.

Before I share my thoughts about the movie, my Twilight pedigree. I bought Twilight shortly after the book came out, after reading some positive internet buzz and thinking it sounded like my kind of story. But I didn't read it right away. In fact, New Moon had already been released by the time I picked up my copy of the first book.

I admit it, I'm a mom of a certain age who fell absolutely in love with Bella and Edward's story as told in Twilight. I was ecstatic that I could immediately pick up the sequel because when I closed the cover of Twilight, I didn't want to leave that world behind.

New Moon was okay. Decent except that Edward was gone for so much of it. Not as good as Twilight, but it didn't suck. I waited (im)patiently for Eclipse, bought it as soon as possible after it was released, and dove in with great expectation. Sadly, it was then that the wheels fell off the bus. The characters I'd fallen in love with in Twilight had been replaced by doppelgangers of the worst sort, the soul-mates love story of Edward and Bella had been defiled, and I was left devastated that Meyer had taken such a tragically wrong turn with something I had loved so much.

It was with great - great - ambivalence that I purchased Breaking Dawn. I feared that I would hate it, but I longed for Meyer to make things right again in this last chapter of the story. Maybe BD would be so great, I could forget the mess that was Eclipse and view the whole thing as a trilogy with an unfortunate side trip into fantasy land.

I didn't even get all the way through Breaking Dawn.

So, I'm a Twilight fan. Not a Twilight series fan, but a fan of the first book. So I was really looking forward to seeing how the story would translate to the big screen. I wanted to like the movie, I didn't hold anything against the actors, director or screenwriters for the downward slide I thought the series had taken, and with that attitude in mind, I've completely ignored the critics and detractors. After all, I can make up my own mind what I do and don't like. I don't need to be condescended to by people who find themselves superior to me simply because they didn't fall under the spell of some pop culture phenomenon they don't understand. My attitude towards those with the tendency to bash Twilight (both book and movie) and those who like it - too bad for them, more for me.

And I did like it. Overall, I really enjoyed the movie. It had its faults, to be sure. But I was very pleased with the end results. In detail:

The Good
1. The cast. I think Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson are very well cast as Bella and Edward. They look much like I imagined the characters to look when reading the book. And I thought they acted as Bella and Edward were presented. Pattinson, especially, really captured Edward's inner struggle, doing a decent job expressing it without benefit of us seeing his point of view.

A quibble I do have is that Stewart is almost too humorless as Bella. No doubt she'll be able to absolutely nail Bella's incapacitating despondency after Edward leaves her in New Moon. But there is such a lack of joy around her that you have to wonder what would ever make her smile. Too, I didn't quite buy it when she told Edward on more than one occasion that she wasn't afraid of him. She always seemed too held-back for me to believe her words, as if she herself was saying them out loud but didn't quite feel them in her heart.

Billy Burke was excellent as Charlie Swan, Bella's father. The Cullens were all well cast physically, but since they got very little screen time and even less dialog, I can't comment on their acting ability. The secondary characters did what I wanted them to do - moved the story along but didn't detract from the main couple - so as far as I'm concerned, they were smashing successes.

2. The adaptation of the book. When a book I like is made into a movie, I want as few changes as possible. To this end, I think the movie was spot on. Nothing was left out that I missed, and the few changes added were necessary to explain aspects of the story. I do wish the Big Reveal and the meadow scene were depicted a little bit closer to the events in the book, but in the end, the result was the same.

The Bad
1. Okay, the makeup artists on this film should be fired. The Cullens are supposed to be pale, but they aren't supposed to look like they are wearing white grease paint. And that's what the actors looked like. There is a difference between pale skin and chalk-white skin. The latter would never go unnoticed and unremarked upon in any normal town, especially if every member of an entire family looked that way, so presenting the characters this way in the movie pretty much makes the entire population of Forks look really stupid and unaware. Perhaps they can improve the concept of "paleness" in New Moon. After all, they managed to make Bella look very fair-skinned without a thick layer of mime face.

2. Only one scene really bothered me. At the end, when Bella is in the hospital and Edward tells her that she should move away from Forks for her own good, Bella's reaction is awful. Or rather, Kristin Stewart's depiction of Bella's reaction is awful. She stutters and can't manage to form a complete, coherent sentence. But rather than coming off as if Bella is so upset by the prospect of being separated from Edward that she can't even speak, it seems more as if Stewart forgot her lines and is stammering her way through the scene. The Bella in Twilight the book would have been yelling, in full, emphatic sentences, that she can't - won't - be separated from Edward. This scene was the chance to show those who hadn't read all of the inner dialog from the book to get a true taste of how much Bella loves Edward. The whole scene was a blown opportunity.

3. The special effects were a little cheesy. But I give the movie a big pass on this given their limited budget. Too, in this day and age of Star Wars, Pixar, and action hero blockbusters, we've all come to expect the impossible out of our special effects. Not every movie has that kind of money to invest. I think the movie makers got the point across the best way they could, so I can ignore this problem.

I left the theater with a smile on my face, thoroughly satisfied. And I'll buy the DVD when it comes out, and most like see New Moon in the theater if it manages to maintain the same cast and production team (with better effects and better makeup). I don't regret a single penny of the $6 it cost me.

In the end, I think this movie is simply of the type that if you are a fan of the books, you will most likely enjoy the movie, despite its faults. And if you aren't a fan of the books or if you are completely ignorant about Twilight either because the books aren't directed at your demographic or because you are far too superior to stoop that low, then you won't like the movie regardless of the quality. This will be just another chance to jump on the snark train.

And in that case, do us all a favor and just stay home. We don't need you to suffer for our sakes.


D said...

I think you hit the nail on the head.

When I saw Rosalie (Nikki Reed) I couldn't stop laughing. Reed has dark skin and dark hair, and putting her that pale made her look like she was scraped off the cement after a week long alcohol bender.

One other gripe I had was the editing/directing. It felt rushed, and while 400 pages is a lot stuff to cram into 2 hours, I found myself lost at the jumps it made back and forth.

How did you like the last scene at the prom?

JESS said...
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Lynn M said...

Yeah, I agree that some of it did feel rushed. One scene I forgot to mention that left me disappointed was Bella's introduction to the Cullens family. It was all done very awkwardly, as if no one was quite sure what to say.

I thought the Prom scene turned out alright as a way to end the movie. It offered closure in case the sequel didn't get made but also left things open for the next story. They didn't really focus on Bella's reluctance to go to the prom in the first place, but I didn't like that part in the book anyway.

I think the biggest disappointment I had with the movie is that, at the end, I still didn't get the feeling/impression of how in love Bella and Edward were supposed to be. I thought R Patz did a better job "being in love" than Kristin Stewart did, but with a love as great as Edward and Bella's, I wanted to be overwhelmed by it. I just didn't quite get that, and if I hadn't already read the books, I would have been left in doubt.

Watch Movies said...

Yeha i agree with you. Movie was quite good but the end was disappointed me very much. I had not expected such type end .