Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight Twice

Hi Townies, Unless you've been in Gitmo for the last several years, then you know about Twilight. You may also know about my somewhat alarming obsession with the book series. I'll bet you can also imagine my anticipation for the movie which opened yesterday to some pretty staggering box office numbers. Luckily for me, my new part-time gig has me footloose and fancy free every Friday. So I decided to go see the film by myself on Friday figuring the tweeners would all be in school and I could catch the film without the lines and Pattinson-induced involuntary high-pitched screaming. (I also caught the film again on Saturday with Smoochies and Beeps)

The movie theater was pretty empty when I arrived for the 10:45 am showing. Perfect. I was giddy in my seat just waiting for the movie to start. Wondering how it would open and how the Cullens would be introduced. I usually love seeing previews before the movie, but in this case, every new preview they showed made me long for the fast-forwarding power of the remote.

SPOILERS AHEAD - so if you haven't seen the movie or read the book. Stop now.

Ok. Let me first start by saying that I had low expectations going in. Most book-to-movie translations end up being disappointing and never live up to the book. This was the case with Twilight. I knew it would be hard to take a 300+ book and turn it into a 2 hour movie. But there were only two things they needed to to do to make it work: capture Edward's overwhelming desire to eat Bella and make us believe in their blossoming, forbidden relationship. And the movie failed at both. Edward, no matter how ridiculously good-looking Rob is, was unable to convince me that he was being torn apart inside. But to his credit, you can only brood so much without having good lines in which to sell your audience. And I'm not blaming Stephenie here. Those lines i.e. "And the lion fell in love with the lamb... ", "Hold on spider monkey" etc. translate ok in the book, sweet almost, but just didn't work in the film. In addition, the writers and production company, must have believed that in order to keep audiences interested (those who possibly didn't read the book) that they needed to make James the star and climax of the film. Yes, I understand that you need some action to keep the boys interested, but the book is about family, sacrifice, and impossible love. Not running from other vamps. I would have loved it sooooo much more if the first book was split into two films. One of their relationship, and another about the other vamp clans.

There were also a couple of moments that I was dying to see translated in the film. The first was the meadow scene. This was a big moment for me in the book. Bella and Edward spend the day together. A date. This was the moment Edward opens up and reveals his true self to Bella. The moment he shows her a special place, exposes his feelings, kisses her, and sparkles. Instead in the movie, he shows his skin in a fit of frustration and anger. The meadow is almost an after-thought and not a place and time they share. I did like the way they showed his skin, but I could have really done without the sparkly-fairy-twinkling sounds. It was too cutesy. The man-sparkles speak for themselves folks.

I also wanted more to the prom scene, the extended prom remix would have been nice. I missed Alice in this moment. In the book you fall in love with Alice and her perky need to dress and spoil Bella. I wanted the prom surprise in the book, I wanted to see Alice fussing over Bella and Edward revelling in his secret. The joke being that Bella thinks he's taking her to change her instead they end up at the prom. In the film, again, the prom has lost its magic.

I also wanted more Cullen. I loved Alice in the book and I think she had 2 lines in the film. Jasper was almost comic relief, Emmitt was pretty true, and Rosalie came off nasty and crass. Carlise and Esme were pretty spot-on. Overall, the Cullens were more wall paper than active participants in the story. Again, victims of the film's time-constraints.

Kristen did a nice job with what she had. Other than the bad acting in the hospital bed (Cathrine, why did you choose that take? Her pleading with Edward was amateur and unconvincing. ) she gave a nice performance. In some cases though, I wanted to see why Edward wanted her, what was so special about her? What was it that was so irresistible? And Bella came off as cranky and no fun. I get that she's new and a bit disappointed with her new surroundings, but her friends were so welcoming and she just (and to use a Stephenie-favorite) glowered.

Now on to the CG. In some cases it was pretty cool: Edward climbing the tree, the baseball, the sparkles, the fight scene, etc. But in other cases it was pretty bad. Bella looked almost awkward and goofy riding Edward's back and the stunt doubles were obvious.

Okay, enough trash talk. There were some things I really liked. Rob, for one, was just total eye-candy. The washed-out film captured the feeling of gloomy Forks, and sweeping camera shots were fun. I liked Charlie and the baseball scene, I enjoyed Bella's goofy, immature friends (even though other reviews say they were annoying) it was almost nice to have some contrast to Bella's almost constant dower-state.

Overall, let's say I hadn't read the book, I'd give Twilight 2.5 stars out of 5. But having read and loved the books, I give the film 3 stars. For what the film lacked in story and feeling, I was able to fill in the blanks with the Twilight high I carry around with me daily. I'm just glad they made the film. And I look forward to New Moon and the rest of the books. Maybe they'll take my advice and slow it down a bit. Don't be afraid to break the books up into several films or even a TV series. There is so much more to the stories than killer vampires. And if you need my help Stephenie, Cathrine, Rob, just let me know. I have off on Fridays.