Twilight Movie Review
The first Twilight movie is not what you’d expect from a multi-million-dollar franchise. (Scroll down for links to my reviews of the other four films!)
I don’t get this film. I remember the first time I watched it, I was with a group of friends who’d never read Twilight but been listening to me rave about it for months. I’d thought, now they’ll see the first instalment of the The Twilight Saga and they’ll understand what all the fuss is about. A few minutes in and they were all looking at me with raised eyebrows.
There is no excuse for how good the first Twilight film is not. I had been expecting a slick production of the caliber of the Harry Potter movies, which had similarly adapted a written series aimed at teenagers that was a huge phenomenon before they hit the big screen. It’s hard to accept that the makers of Twilight were short on budget when they were making something that was pretty much a guaranteed success. So what’s the deal?
Were they trying to be, like, totally out there and do something new – a kind of made-for-TV film meets cheap indie music video montage? Or did they just think it didn’t matter how good or bad the film turned out, that hordes of teenagers would go to see it nonetheless, so why bother even trying? I hope that’s not the case. Yes millions went to see it and even accepted it just based on the success of the books by Stephenie Meyers but quite frankly, I think we deserve better.
I can’t help comparing this to yet another teen-series-to-screen adaptation – The Hunger Games. The makers of both film debuts faced a similar challenge, how to capture the introspective narrative that makes the written story so engaging. In the Hunger Games, the director uses subtle techniques and the actress Jennifer Lawrence, who plays the protagonist Katniss Everdeen, conveys a world of thought and feeling through her expression. In Twilight, the director resorts to the obvious by inserting voiceovers of monologues from inside the head of the main character, Bella Swan, and the actress who plays her, Kristen Stewart, displays a very limited range.
I can see what the makers of the Twilight movie were going for in trying to capture the feeling of teen angst so present in the book. But both Bella and her vampire crush, Edward Cullen, just end up coming across as awkward, unnatural, and even rude. If I hadn’t read the book, I might have thought they loathed each other! Bella can barely utter a single line without pausing or stuttering her way through it and Edward’s reactions to her (covering his nose against her smell, staring at her intently, etc.) are blatant and over-the-top.
It’s really hard to take the Twilight movie seriously, at least until Bella and Edward finally get together. After that both actors relax and become more natural. And the cheesy production becomes less of a distraction as the story becomes more compelling. Oh and it doesn’t hurt that the baddie vampire, James, is a dead ringer for Brad Pitt.
So what’s it all about?
Edward is a vampire but he doesn’t have fangs and he doesn’t drink human blood. However, he finds it extremely difficult to resist the lure of Bella’s blood, which is especially appealing to him. He is strong, fast, gifted, and can hear the thoughts of those around him, Bella excepted.
Bella is an ordinary teenage girl, at least she is until she meets Edward. She is clumsy, shy, insecure, and easily embarrassed. She has little desire to fit in and hates to be in the limelight. She finds it almost impossible to believe that anyone as desirable as Edward could ever want to be with her.
Both Edward and Bella fight the attraction they feel for each other before finally giving into their feelings and falling deeply in love. But Bella’s illusion of safety among vampires – as she hangs out with Edward’s human-friendly clan – is shattered when a killer vampire called James rolls into town and sets his sights on her.
So begins a fight for survival that sees Bella holed up in a motel room with members of Edward’s family. She gives them the slip to meet her would-be killer after he blackmails her into coming forth to save her mother. Bella meets James alone only to find he's tricked her and that her mother isn’t really in any danger. And now she faces a slow and painful death at the hands of a hungry vampire.
I read the Twilight novel before I watched the movie and I suggest you do the same. When you bring the depth of the novel to the movie, you bring the depth that the story deserves. For more insight into the plot, read this chapter-by-chapter summary.
Here are some of the other cast members that appear in the Twilight movie:
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