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Review: Twilight

November 24th, 2008


Movie adaptations of books tend to fall into two categories: those that are better than the book and those that are worse than the book.Most film adaptations fall into the latter category. Books rely on the power of the reader’s imagination. Movies use the combination of visual images and sound to tell the story and constantly run the risk of showing the zipper on the back of the monster suit. Filmmakers are also hampered by the issue of length. You can tell a much grander and richer story over five hundred pages than you can over two hours. Because of issues like this, filmmakers have a difficult time capturing all of the qualities and details of the book that its readers love.

Twilight Poster 2

Based off the book of the same name by Stephenie Meyer, Twilight fails into a third category. It is the rare movie that brings to light just how awful the book really is. For those who don’t know, the story of Twilight revolves around a teenage girl named Bella Swan who moves to a new town and falls in love with a boy named Edward Cullen. The twist? Edward is a vampire.

The movie is pretty faithful to the book, which means that nothing happens for most of the movie. Mainly, Bella meets Edward and they stare at each other. A lot. Then they declare their love for each other and then stare at each other. A lot.

wooden acting

Only a minor subplot about an evil vampire who thirsts for Bella’s blood interrupts the gooey eyed staring sessions. This subplot is meant to be exciting and showcase the vampires in action. The problem is that there are seven good vampires and only one bad vampire (there are two other “bad” vampires but they conveniently leave the story) so Bella’s safety is really never in question.

Edward fights with James

But I digress, and so does the movie as this action subplot is nothing more than an excuse to put Bella in danger so Edward can save her and then stare into her eyes yet again.

smelling nice

In the movie, there are several MTV-music video sequences that show Bella and Edward bonding and talking. The audience can’t hear what they’re saying as there’s no sound in these scenes other than the generic rock songs. What exactly is the audience missing in these scenes? Nothing. You can’t hear what the characters are saying because Stephanie Meyer didn’t write anything for them to say in her book and the filmmakers didn’t know what to have them say to each other.

Having read the novel, I can tell you that there is nothing more to Edward and Bella’s love than mere physical attraction. They never have any conversations about anything other Edward being a vampire or their lurv. The book does delve into the character’s thoughts, but that doesn’t help the reader understand their fatal attraction. Almost every thought from Bella is a variation of “Edward’s so beautiful” or how she can’t get over his white, marbled skin. Edward adds little to the conversation other than reminding Bella that he’s a “dangerous” vampire and that he’s perfect.

Lion and lamb

Director Catherine Hardwicke and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg keep the movie faithful to the book. That includes such awful dialogue as “and so the lion fell in love with the lamb”. What comes across as mildly cheesy in print becomes laughably bad and corny when spoken out loud by actors. Even the best actors couldn’t save Stephenie Meyer’s dreadful dialogue let alone the two stiff actors that star in Twilight. Just how bad is the acting by these two? There’s a scene where Bella and Edward are sitting in a tree (just like the nursery rhyme) and it becomes hard to tell what is more wooden, the actors or the tree.

In tree

But that’s nothing compared to the short soliloquy Kristen Stewart gives in the hospital when she thinks that Edward might leave her. It’s a masterpiece of hammy overacting by someone who can’t emote. If Keanu Reeves ever wants to win an Oscar, he should hire Kristen Stewart as his co-star. She makes him look like Laurence Oliver.

Of course, the acting fits in perfectly with the cheesy low-rent production values of the movie. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell whether the cheap look is because of the filmmaker’s incompetence or their devotion to Stephenie Meyer’s book. For instance, take Edward’s fast running where his feet don’t touch the ground. He looks like some type of vampire fairy.  Or the “glitter” effect when the vampires are exposed to sunlight. Or even the vampires themselves. Edward and the rest of his family, the Cullens, try their best to fit in with the rest of human society but, come on! They are so pasty white and obvious, how could you not think they were vampires? Seriously.

Silly vampires

Of course, this will matter little to the devoted teenage girls who’ve based ideals of romance off of Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight book series.

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