Thursday, November 27, 2008
FILM REVIEW: "Twilight" Pros & Cons
With films that have such a mixed reaction--being pandered by critics who love to hate teen adaptations and worshipped by viewers who'll gobble up anything with a hot lead in it--I try to develop an unbiased opinion. While I'm not a teenager anymore, I am prone to over-appreciating certain media because of an attractive face, yet at the same time, the critic in me refuses to accept crap. At times it can all boil down to whether you are an adaptation purist--demanding word-for-word translation--or if you're just hoping for an interpretation of the novel. While I prefer regurgitation, I present to you a pros-and-cons list just to be fair:
• I was wondering how they were going to verbalize all of Bella's thoughts, since there was a big deal being made about Stephenie Meyers possibly writing the first book from Edward's perspective and the fact that the fourth book is written in both Bella and Jacob's perspective. So I was glad that they chose to do a voiceover.
• And I was even happier when she started off with a statement, which was something like "I'm not afraid to die, but I would die to save the life of someone I loved," that she repeated at the end before she went to sacrifice herself for her mother's sake. I don't think it was in the book, so it was cool to see something added that didn't suck.
• The most important aspect of the film that needed to be mastered was the chemistry between Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson. If they couldn't make the viewers believe they were in love, then the movie would be a wash. In the scene where he saves her from being crushed by a van, you could see the sexual tension between them and the suspense in the air, and that clinched it for me. I also liked when he pretended he was going to turn her at the end and unintentionally found it amusing when he tried to dance with her in his bedroom, but only because an audience member loudly exclaimed a bewildered "What?" Yes, what boy asks a girl to dance with him in his bedroom? Edward, of course.
• I really loved the scene where they kissed and he threw himself off of her to stop from ripping her to shreds. If you've read the fourth book, you'll know it was necessary.
• I was worried that James (Cam Gigandet) was going to be hardly terrifying and just a pure joke. But he was actually pretty low-key--just the right amount of vindictive and menacing.
• I couldn't remember how big a role Jacob (Taylor Lautner) had in the first book, but I liked that he was a present figure, and that his expressive eyes and spirit were perfectly embodied.
• Anna Kendrick (Jessica) and Christian Serratos (Angela) were great cast choices for Bella's female friends. They were the right amount of girlie to pose a contrast to Bella's anti-social behavior.
• I liked the CGI/wire-work during the car accident, the thunderstorm baseball game and the ballet studio fight.
• Nikki Reed (Rosalie) was sufficiently bitchy and played her role adequately to lay the groundwork for future scenes.
• Am I the only one who thought the graduation-caps mural looked really cool? I would totally hang that in my house.
• Lastly, I'd recommend the soundtrack, especially the supersweet song "Flightless Bird, American Mouth" by Iron & Wine.
• Most of Pattinson's facial reactions to anything from the hunger for blood to the enjoyment of Bella's company was unintentionally campy--I hope it was. Adding to the camp-factor was several moments of vampire rage, like when Rosalie broke the glass salad bowl and the Cullens crouched into attack-mode against James and his coven. I'm sure it wasn't meant to look weird, but I guess it was easier to take seriously when it was read off the page instead of seen on the big screen.
• Also, while it's true that Jasper (Jackson Rathbone) is supposed to be this high-strung, newly vegetarian vampire, what does that have to do with bulging eyes and twitchy behavior. Edward did it too--just a whole lot of eye-bulging.
• All of the fake hair. Rosalie and Carlisle's bottle-blonde and Emmett's slathered on jet black buzz cut was nothing compared to Jacob's mane. Having seen Lautner with short spikey hair many times before completely distracted me from how unnatural his voluminous locks were.
• And to add insult to injury, his fellow Native Americans, with the exception of Billy, seemed unmemorable and bland in comparison to him. They're supposed to be apart of his pack in the future and they failed to make an impression. His skin was rich caramel, while theirs seemed like a grayish brown. Also, his voice was completely Americanized, which isn't what you'd expect a Native American, raised on a reservation and taught by his own people, to sound like. It's nearly the equivalent of hiring Zac Efron to play Hispanic just because he can pass for it. Nonetheless, I fear the possibility of them replacing Lautner once his character goes through his wolf transformation that's supposed to make him 6ft tall and buff in the next film. Unless he plans on waking up as The Rock, I don't see that happening, but I would prefer continuity.
• I wish Jacob got to interrupt their prom dance like he did in the book, instead of catching her outside before she went in. It would've made for a more confrontational tension between the two of them to set the stage for the unrelenting hatred towards each other in the future.
• I also wish that the scene where Jacob tells Bella of the werewolf legends was longer, since it's the first time they genuinely bond, which he mentions later in the books. Sometimes I feel like they weren't prepared for the idea that they'd have to continue the saga, so they didn't set up the dominos to knock 'em down later. I mean, they didn't even explain that Alice can only see the future of someone who makes a decision, and how Bella was able to give her the slip and meet James. Even Jasper's power was practically ignored, possibly not even mentioned.
• What was with the boys in this town? They seemed closer to five years old rather than fifteen. I don't quite remember Mike being that immature. I thought he was supposed to be jealous and wary and stalkerish, not goofily flirtatious. By the film's portrayal of the town's boy population, it's no wonder Bella turned to supernatural hotties, since they were the only ones with any self-control...or self-respect.
• Missing gems: I really wish there was more Alice and Emmett interaction. She's supposed to be introduced as this intrusive and influential, yet cute angel of death, and all I get is a hug and a hilariously embarrassing moment for Edward. I'm just asking for a smidge more. As for Emmett, what happened to his tough-guy demeanor and playful quips against Bella? Maybe it's because I'm fresh off the last two books in the series and I'm remembering wrong, but he seemed just like a huge bully-for-hire to me in this film.
• A major part of the books are descriptions. Honestly, at times they got on my nerves. But after watching the film, I found myself wondering where all the signs of how solid his skin was and how he gently restrains her with every kiss and how he drives her crappy car at break-neck speeds, and stuff like that were missing. I know they can't make it seem like his lips are made of bricks, but it was a little disappointing to not see it play out the way it did in my head. I'm a dork that way.
• I know that eventually Bella grows to love her father the way she loves her mother, but her relationship with her dad wasn't as close as they eventually summed it up to be. In fact, he was hardly as verbal as this Charlie and, sorry to say, a few diner lunches does not equal to the amount of fear she had for him in the end. Any daughter would feel that fear, but to say that those four or five awkward parental moments amounted to that was reaching.
• The running with her on his back and the tree-climbing OH! and Edward's glittery-stripper skin in the sunlight were poorly designed CGI/wire stunts that makes me wonder if they should ask Catherine Hardwicke to direct the next three in the saga. It wasn't just the action. It was the vibe of the film. There was nothing even remotely realistic about it. I know vampires don't exist, but when you watch certain supernatural films they have a way of sucking you in. There wasn't a moment of this film that I didn't feel how unreal it was. It was honestly one step above The Covenant, that male-witch crapfest, and one step below The Underworld, which only ups the creep-factor by being shot mostly in darkness. I was expecting "Buffy, the Vampire Slayer"-type teen drama--heavy and blood-curdling, but romantic, heartfelt and humorous--and instead I got...Van Helsing or Ghost Rider, eck. I'm not saying she should've made it like other vampire films, but she should've at least watched them or retained what she watched. I hope like the Harry Potter films, they switch to a different director.
As for the series itself, I think I've pinpointed the exact reason I didn't quite fall for it as much as I did Harry Potter: there was absolutely, positively no freaking reason why these two crazy kids loved each other. In fact, there was no reason why Jacob loved her either, yet he had a more substantial claim for obsession than Edward did. He had at least made her laugh and enjoyed having adventures with her. But Edward? What did they do together that made them fall in love? Name one thing. (Don't mention reading romantic literature, cause it's not like they kept chatting about it.) What? He likes the way she smells and she likes the way he looks. That's it? Moral of the story: Horny teenagers should get married before continuing in their lust-filled escapades? Really? You've got to be kidding me. If it wasn't for the suspense-filled first book, the supernatural lore, and the battle scenes in the 3rd and 4th books, it would've been a waste of my precious time.
Click here for New Moon Pros & Cons!