Read David Harley’s review for his thoughts on the film.
*Note: I don’t want to see any comments saying, “well, in the book…”, the fact of the matter is that this is a review of the movie, and what was presented on the big screen. Also note that there are some minor spoilers.
I rarely introduce myself in a film review, but I feel that it’s pretty important to know exactly where I stand when it comes to Summit Entertainment’s TWILIGHT, probably this year’s second most anticipated movie (behind THE DARK KNIGHT). Back in 2003, I was dating my soon-to-be wife Andrea, which meant I was playing the role of the best guy in the world. She desperately wanted to see a little indie movie by the name of THIRTEEN. Being the greatest BFF, I drove her to a dumpy little theater that was playing the film, which I thought looked atrocious. Walking out of the theater I was stunned, not only by how good the movie was, but also by how talented first time director Catherine Hardwicke was. I immediately became a fan of hers and made a note in my brain exclaiming, “see her next film.”
While LORDS OF DOGTOWN was still a treat, I can’t say the same for THE NATIVITY STORY…. but I still find myself looking forward to her every move, which is why I was immediately stunned by the news that she would be making a teen vampire movie. We caught the news before it hit the trades that she would be adapting Stephenie Meyer’s novel of the same name, but I had no clue how popular it was. All I knew was that Hardwicke was putting her touch on the horror genre, which excited me beyond belief.
Cut to tonight, where I probably was the only person in the theater who was there to see a new Catherine Hardwicke movie – NOT because it was an adaptation of Meyer’s best-selling novel. So let it be know that I have never read, have no desire to and will never read any of the books from that creepy, creepy Stephenie Meyer. My review of TWILIGHT is purely based on what was presented before me in that theater with zero expectations and zero knowledge of the books series (other than that there’s some really creepy birth in the fourth one – awesome).
For those of you who don’t know, TWILIGHT is about a high school girl named Bella (Kristen Stewart) who falls in love with a vampire named Edward (Robert Pattinson) at her new school in Forks, Washington. The bulk of the film is their developing relationship and her discovery of his secret, while the final act focuses on their battle with a rival vampire clan.
Keeping in mind that I have not read the book, the adapted screenplay by Melissa Rosenberg was the sole problem with TWILIGHT, not that Meyer’s scenarios make any damn sense either. The screenplay was poorly written, as many of the character arcs are underdeveloped, with the pacing completely uneven. The first hour of the movie follows the relationship of Edward and Bella, the next thirty we see the duo introduce each other’s families, with the final act playing out very similar to Two Face’s role in THE DARK KNIGHT. While nothing really happens in most of the movie, the finale is squeezed into the plot just for the sake of having conflict and yet, it makes zero sense. Why one vampire would be so obsessed with a piece of meat is beyond me. Bella becomes stalked by one of the vampires, who has his choice of about 600 million other humans to chew on, so why bother with her? This questions leads straight into the main problem with TWILIGHT, the logic.
TWILIGHT is completely illogical, on almost every level. Edward explains to Bella that he’s “pretty” because it helps attract his victims, only it’s later revealed that the whole clan was created by one vampire, which means they were all human once before. I guess when you become a vampire you immediately become pretty? Another big leap in logic is why Edward and his clan would attend high school. Out of all the places I would never want to go to again, it would be high school. It’s also touched on that the clan talks to nobody but their own kind, and that they’re considered outcasts, so why even go to school? It makes absolutely no sense. I guess they want to relearn everything? Furthermore, the entire relationship between Bella and Edward is cross-eyed as he explains to her that it took all the power in the world for him not to bite her and drink her blood. At no point does he explain that he has sexual feelings for Bella, so basically we’re lead to believe that Edward is in love with his food? I love Big Macs, but I don’t daydream about f*cking one.
Ok, ok, ok…. I get it, suspension of disbelief. I’m past it, but I won’t ignore the fact that there’s absolutely nothing original, new or all that clever about TWILIGHT. Based on what I witnessed before my eyes, this entire adaptation was carried through by my wonderful Catherine Hardwicke, who took a shiny little turd and transformed it into a watchable, slightly enjoyable film.
Hardwicke shows us why she is an incredibly talented and competent filmmaker and she does a great job in creating things that just aren’t there, things such as suspense, drama, action and hot steamy make-out sessions. Her handheld work is masterful, making a boring conversation feel a little bit more action-packed. She also sets up an array of “feel-good” jokes and directs action scenes like she’s ready to take on an X-MEN movie (the baseball scene is pretty cool). It’s pretty impressive that she took this small little movie and gave it some life; it’ll be interesting to see what she does with a mega-budget for the sequel. But what really blows my mind is that Hardwicke made TWILIGHT a pretty enjoyable experience, considering how generic it truly is.
Getting back on track, the mythology of TWILIGHT is completely unoriginal. What drives a film/story like this are the interesting characters, and being that most of the characters are so underdeveloped (sans Bella and Edward), all that’s left is the flashy directing styles of Catherine Hardwicke. The one thing that annoys me the most about the film is that anyone could have wrote this generic vampire drama. Meyer puts no stamp on the story other than that she’s a fond believer in abstinence and that her dream as a teenager was to get it on with a vampire (I wonder if Brat Pitt and Tom Cruise did this to her?).
For everyone who is unfamiliar with the books, I can’t say I would recommend TWILIGHT, especially since there are a handful of better vampire movies out there of the same nature (LOST BOYS being one of them). If anything, I’ll take this moment to direct you to HBO where you can watch their ongoing adaptation of TRUE BLOOD, which features everything that’s missing from TWILIGHT.