November 24, 2008

'Twilight' the movie. Part 2

"Attention, all 13-year-old female readers of this newspaper: Run, do not walk, to the nearest multiplex playing "Twilight," the screen version of Stephenie Meyer's best-selling potboiler about a principled vampire and the teenage girl who loves him. Others needn't run. Or walk."
Wall Street Journal

Okay, so here's the thing.

This movie was made for people who read the books and became completely obsessed. If you’re not one of those people, this movie isn't really for you.

And of course, if you loved the books, you aren’t going to love this movie. But when is the movie ever as good as the book? And when we’re talking a 544 page novel, in which the main characters talk and talk, and then talk some more, in between rhapsodizing over how wonderful the other one is, the movie will lose something in translation.

I thought the casting was pretty good. The Edward and Bella characters especially worked really well for me. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are pretty much exactly as I pictured Bella and Edward. The sullen and reserved Kristen Stewart had no problem playing the sullen and reserved Bella Swan. And Robert Pattinson obviously benefitted from Stephenie Meyer letting him read the early chapters of Midnight Sun. It really seemed like he got Edward’s sense of humor. And let’s face it, the boy actually can smolder. The supporting casting wasn’t bad either. I was surprised by Taylor Lautner (Jacob). From earlier photos, he didn’t seem quite the right fit for Jacob (too short and too young). But with the appropriate wig, he worked out fine. However, considering the growth spurt Jacob is supposed to start experiencing, I’m not quite sure how the same actor would be able to play the hulking huge Jacob of New Moon.

The scenery was beautiful. The lush green and the constant overcast and wetness of the Pacific Northwest play an important role in setting the mood of the Twilight books, so that came across perfectly.

Now the bad. Half of the vampire makeup was ludicrous. Considering the Cullens are supposed to blend in with humans somewhat, the idea that anyone would be able to look at Carlisle under florescent lights without thinking “what is wrong with that dude?” pushes the limits. I was also highly distracted by the fact that Edward constantly wore more lipstick than Bella. And don’t even get me started on Jasper’s hair. How is that the hair of a Civil War solider?

And the special effects. To be fair, the vampire sparkle was going to be difficult to achieve under any circumstances, and this was a fairly low budget movie. But I think there could have been a better way to handle it that involved less soft focus. I thought they did a really good job with the vampire speed effects. Some reviewers complained that it’s cheap to go with a simple blur effect, but that’s exactly how their speed is referred to in the books, so that worked for me. However, they overused it and it became tiresome. In the meadow scene alone (badly handled all around) Edward blurs out of the frame about a dozen times. The climbing effect was a little too Spider-man for me, and of course not really true to the book, but you have to admit the view from the top of the trees was awesome. Though I spent the entire time thinking the Bella we know, would have fallen off the limb in a heartbeat.

The biggest problem I had was the screenplay. There’s of course no way to make a two hour movie about a 544 page book without losing some big chunks of the story, but I object to the chunks they chose. By cutting so much of Bella and Edward’s dialogue, we pretty much miss how they fell in love. The actors were left to convey everything with intense looks and nostril flaring, which just elicited giggles in theaters throughout the country. Relationships were forsaken (example: Alice and Bella’s blossoming friendship) and dialogue was rewritten when the original dialogue said it much better. Changing which characters spoke specific lines also seemed to serve no purpose and just ruined the original emotional impact. Oh! And what up with Bella wearing Converse to prom?

I could have done with less close-ups. We get it! They’re pretty, and intense.

In summary: silly, melodramatic, and cheesy. But so were the books. I was completely entertained.


Avalon said...

Maybe Alice didn't Jasper's hair. And the books and the movie were not cheesy! But the movie was kinda weird...

Avalon said...

I mean did. Sorry.