Sunday, 21 December 2008

Twilight the movie - the verdict

On Friday 19th December 2008 00:01am Twilight (2008: Hardwicke), the adaptation of the famous and riduculously popular book, was released in Britain. At 21:30pm that day I went to see the film. Here is my verdict, a Twilighter's verdict.

This blog will come to you in three parts:

  1. The film
  2. The book versus the film
  3. The next film

1. The film

Let us ignore for a moment the fact that the film was an adaptation. What would I have made of it if I had never heard of or read the book? Stylistically it was right up my ally. There were; epic widescreen shots showing the beautiful yet rainy scenery of the Washington state scenery; cleverly placed voiceovers giving insight beyond the visual; a cast of super-sexy characters; a good mix of drama, action and romance and; a Muse song. All in all I really enjoyed the film.

My favourite was probably the baseball scene. It was probably the most cinematic scene in the film. By this I mean the most spectacular, in-your-face, heart-pumping scene. The main reason for this is, of course, the use of Supermassive Black Hole by the fantastic Muse. Ignoring the film and the book completely I personally would be happy to sit in a massive room and just listen to Muse really loud (which I have done of course - I saw them live in 2003), but add in the visuals, which were cleverly edited to the music and for the first time showed the extent of the vampires' speed and strength, and we have a real winner.

The thing I felt the film lacked however was character and relationship development between Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Rob Pattinson). Now perhaps this is because I have read the books, but I felt, even for someone who knows nothing of the story might have felt a little let down by the screen time dedicated to the their relationship. I can understand that in a film you can't spend three hours showing the everyday goings on of a 'teenage' couple but there was something missing. The chemistry was there but I wanted it to be explored more... preferably with more kissing.

2. The book versus the film

Okay so now for the big section. As a Harry Potter fan I am used to seperating film from book, treating them as two seperate texts, but of course, like any nerd, I also like conversations that last several hours about the differences between the book and the film. In such conversations the book usually comes up tops, and Twilight is no different.

So firstly I am going to think about characters. For me one of the best relationships portrayed on screen was between Bella and her dad Charlie (Billy Burke). Charlie was pretty much how I imagined his personality and mannerisms. The awkward silences between him and Bella were perfect: you could really see that they loved each other but just weren't 'small-talk' people. Their relationship was built up well enough for make Bella leaving hit that little bit harder. As a side note: Charlie's halo movement before Edward came into the house cracked me up.

The Cullens were another example of good casting I thought. Jasper's (Jackson Rathbone) pained expression was priceless and made me laugh every time I saw him. I thought Rosalie (Nikki Reed) was a complete bitch... so she did her job. Emmet (Kellan Lutz) I thought was a bit of a nothing character which was a shame, but then none of the Cullens featured very heavily in this movie. Esme w(Elizabeth Reaser) as roughly how I imagined and I enjoyed the connection between her and Bella at the baseball match. However for me Alice (Ashley Greene) and Carlisle (Peter Facinelli) were perfect in both looks and personality.

I have an urge to list every character and comment on them (I also have an urge to stroke Peter Facinelli's nose but that is besides the point) but I fear people might end up hurling their computer accross the room just for something to break up the monotonous "she was good" "he was alright" "I liked that actor". So I will just say Mike Newton (Micheal Welch) was hilarious and Victoria (Rachelle Lefevre) was stunning.... I mean seriously stunning - stand aside Rosalie Cullen.

There were three main things that were lacking for me. Firstly was the meadow scene. I am not quite sure why they put in a random "Fuck it, lets skip school, walk off into the misty woods, act scared then tell you I am not scared" scene but it was weird. The sparkle for me, as well, was a little cheesy. I am not sure how much Summit paid ILM for that effect but spraying Rob with shimmer powder from Claire's Accessories would have probably done the same trick. I imagined more of a prism effect. Maybe refracted light was too big of a concept for Hollywood to handle. After all screaming teenys do like Claire's Accessories.

Perhaps my biggest objection to the movie was Edward. This is not because of how Rob P played him, I actually think he did quite a good job. The blame would probably need to be placed with (Melissa Rosenburg). As I mentioned earlier there was a lot of relationship time missing. As the story is told from Bella' point of view the only character this impacted on was Edward. I yearned for both his humour - partly because I wanted to see that crooked smile a few more times - and for his stupidly romantic lines such as "If I could dream at all, it would be about you. And I'm not ashamed of it." I know some object to this soppy stuff but if you think about it for a moment Edward has been waiting for love for a long time. If you had several decades of lonelyness wouldn't you have perfected some uber-romantic lines in your head?

Of course I can't move on to the next section without mentioning the cameo. I brought out my nerdiness in the cinema by pointing at the screen and saying "STEPHANIE MEYER" out loud while my other friends (also fans of the book) responded with "What? Who? Where? Huh?". But then I guess not every fan can obsessively check Twilight Source every single day (though of course they should).

3. The next film *SPOLIERS*

As we (Twilighters) all know Chirs Weitz has replaced Catherine Harwicke as director of New Moon. I have to admit that I am a little apprehensive. Despite the lack of Edward New Moon is probably my favourite book of the series. Chris Weitz directed the adaptation of Northern Lights by Phillip Pullman which I was, unfortunately, underwhelmed by. However saying that I am interested to see a different take (I have accepted by this time that the likelihood of a director having the exact same interpretation of a book as me are pretty slim).

What I am worried about is Jacob. See him behind the scenes and Taylor Lautner just is Jacob (well the smiley, super-happy Jacob rather than the cocky, bitter Jacob). But Twilight doesn't really allow much time for Jacob's character to develop so in the film we didn't really see this come out. I admit I am worried by Taylor's performace however I don't want to see him be replaced. I admire his dedication and enthusiasm to the role and I have faith that the Jacob of New Moon is in him.

My three hopes for New Moon are as follows:

1. A bigger budget. The fact that Rob and Kristen are getting a $10 million pay rise is probably a good sign that the budget of New Moon will be bigger. Of course money isn't everything - if it was then The Postman (1997: Costner) wouldn't have been such a flop and American Graffiti (1973: Lucas) wouldn't have been so flipping awesome. However a bigger budget has advantages especially in a film which involves werewolves and vampire royalty which by the way I am already jumping up and down in excitement of seeing.

2. More relationship time. Okay... this might be a big ask considering that Edward buggars off for most of the book. However New Moon is my favourite book because it really emphasises their relationship: having spent months apart Edward is fully prepared to have himself killed at the first mention of Bella's passing, and Bella is fully prepared to put herself in the utmost danger in order to save him. It is the height of romance, and the reason why these books are modern classics. Maybe Twilight is the Pride and Prejudice for our generation - the ultimate love story that readers yearn to experience. But drawing parallels between Darcy/Elizabeth and Edward/Bella is destined for another blog post.

3. Tidbits for us fans. How many Twilighters do you think felt somewhat superior when Edward caught that apple. I myself let out a small chuckle just to acknowledge to myself that I understood its significane. I hope they continue this into New Moon (and Eclipse and Breaking Dawn for that matter). Hopefully we will see Bella holding a ruffled tulip or something similar. Of course the tulip has no significance to the story unlike the apple. But it would still make me happy to have that little cue in for the book fans.

I could waffle on a lot more but I am tempted to throw my own laptop across the room at this point. So I will leave it here for now. Conclusion: bring on the film of New Moon... and in the mean time give me my books to re-read...again.

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