Twilight

November 21, 2008
By
Last night, I saw the Twilight movie midnight premiere, like many other avid fans--and I liked it, despite some of the increasingly negative reviews that are being posted. But after reading some of these reviews, I began to understand why a great number of people aren't exactly happy--some being only a little displeased, and some being greatly displeased. With the translation of such a popular book onto the big screen, there are many factors to consider and many parts to dissect.

Firstly, the characters. Edward (played by British heartthrob Robert Pattinson) was just plain awkward. This odd behavior (like the over-emphasis of the Biology scene reaction) faded away toward the middle of the film, but it was still somewhat present. Moreover, some of his expressions weren't exactly subtle, which kind of got disturbing after a while. Bella (played by Into the Wild's Kristen Stewart) did gave an okay performance, but she didn't exactly shine. But, of course, these were the two hardest roles to cast and consequently portray on the big screen. The casting decisions can be debated, but Kristen and Rob's on-screen chemistry was definitely lacking. Nonetheless, the actor's did a fairly good job at accurately portraying the two main characters, who were the most well-known throughout the book series. And, even though they were not showcased much in the first film, there're the rest of the Cullens, who were cast beautifully. Peter Facinelli portrayed the smooth and reasoned father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, with masterful skill and evenness. The loving mother, Esme, who is compared to Snow White in the book, was played by Elizabeth Reaser, who did a good job portraying the caring character during the little time she had on-screen. The rest of the “kids”--Rosalie, Emmett, Jasper, and Alice--were played by Nikki Reed, Kellan Lutz, Jackson Rathbone, and Ashley Greene, respectively. The two romanced couples conveyed a sense of closeness and togetherness, and the actors also showed the main qualities of the characters with great skill: Emmett with his strength, Rosalie with her hatred, Jasper with his calmness, and Alice with her peppiness. And even though the rest of the family didn't get much of a role in this film, the actors have built a sturdy base to accurately portray their characters in the upcoming sequels. Bella's new friends at Forks High School were also portrayed rather well, and with many comedic strengths, which gave the movie a very high school-like feel. Mike Newton, Eric Yorkie, Jessica Stanley, and Angela Weber were played by Michael Welch, Justin Chon, Anna Kendrick, and Christian Serratos, respectively. Some other minor characters for this adaptation were Charlie Swan, Bella's father, played by Billy Burke, who was very comedic and smart, just like in the books. Bella's mother, Renee, played by Sarah Clarke, had a very small role in this film as well, but served as her daughter's mentor during her first few weeks in Forks. The werewolves (at least in this movie) consisted of Jacob Black, played by Taylor Lautner of The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl. He surprisingly played his part very well, and his beginning feelings for Bella were conveyed accurately. His father, the crippled Billy Black, played by Gil Birmingham, showed a sense of urgency with Bella's dating Edward, which was especially seen when he paid his son twenty dollars to tell Bella that “he'd be watching”; the rivalry between “the cold ones” and the wolves was definitely apparent. And, last but certainly not least, the villains. Laurent, Victoria and James were played by Edi Gathegi, Rachelle Lefevre and Cam Gigandet, respectively. Not only were their performances of these three villains convincing and compelling, but they were also downright scary. The closing scene of the film was the vengeful Victoria looking over Bella and Edward as they danced under a gazebo at prom, which daunted the possibility (and probability) of the sequel, New Moon, being made into a film as well, in which Victoria seeks to avenge her murdered lover, James.

Now, with most books that are to be made into films, the fans ask for many, many things, but there is one thing that a fan base will ask for above all: that the screenplay follows the book. And honestly, this movie delivered on that wish. But the question is, did it work? Not exactly. Basically, a more direct translation from book to screen results in one thing: Non-readers who viewed the film were left bewildered, not knowing why the whole Twilight phenomenon even occurred. This is not the case with avid fans of the series, since they understand the book and are excited to finally see it. But a non-reader? The film could have possibly come off as cheesy, odd, awkward, and even downright bad.
One reason for this could be the “rushed relationship.” In the book, the characters are given plenty of time to develop their love. However, due to obvious time constraints, the relationship between Bella and Edward was somewhat unbelievable, simply because it happened so quickly. It basically seemed that they saw each other about twice, he saved her from a bunch of street thugs, and then they fell in love.

In general, I think the scenes were masterfully shot, and some scenes were just downright cool, like the thunder-smacking baseball scene, which was a scene that was highly anticipated. One scenic disappointment? The meadow. This was where it all started: it was Stephenie Meyer's initial dream that started the book, and it's where the intimate conversation between Bella and Edward took place. But in the movie, they sort of just laid there, with an extreme lack of emphasis. The few scenes that were added that weren't in the book did work out well, usually giving the little time available for Bella and Edward to further their relationship. Aside from that, and also aforementioned, the screenplay followed the book rather strictly.

The writing was very intriguing, simply because it was a book-to-film adaptation; and Melissa Rosenberg did a very good job. Her development of the core plot line was very smooth, and the dialogue did not sound completely unlike Stephenie Meyer's own writing. Moreover, Bella's narration throughout the movie was perfect, first speaking the preface of the book in the beginning and end of the film, and also the back cover in the middle of the film.

Similarly, the direction was commendable, though some scenes seemed a bit choppy. Catherine Hardwicke is known in Hollywood for her teenage image and style, especially with her popular films Lords of Dogtown and Thirteen; that important experience definitely shined through.

As I walked out of the theatre at two-thirty AM, I gave this film an automatic eight on a one-to-ten scale. However, after writing this long-winded review and after careful contemplation of many other reviews and opinions, I lowered that eight to a seven: Still strong, yet just a bit of a disappointment overall. Hopefully, for the rest of the films, the production crew will learn from their mistakes, and build on top of this fresh Twilight foundation. Also, Kristen and Rob need to intently listen to fan feedback (because, after all, we are the most important critics) and work on their on-screen chemistry and further their character's development, which I believe will be a lot simpler the second time around. All in all, I have faith in this phenomenon, its fans, and in all the film's contributors, and I think that the future films will not let down the Twilighters of the world.





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This article has 4 comments. Post your own now!

Emphy said...
Apr. 30, 2009 at 8:37 pm
wow... Even though I didn't like the movie, if I hadn't seen the movie, after reading this I would've thought it was a great movie.
 
TheCompetition said...
Dec. 20, 2008 at 11:36 pm
Wow! This is a massive review, my friend! But it's not the amount of words that make a review good, it's the content, the writing itself. I'm impressed with your ability to write such a detailed, thorough review and sustain the skill all the way through. Nice job!
 
mkwithnoashely said...
Dec. 7, 2008 at 1:18 am
Really Tony you took the time write this. This qualifies you for some major nerd points, jk "Charmed" boy. lol
 
yaya said...
Nov. 25, 2008 at 2:01 pm
The review was well written and clearly thought through.
 
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