Saturday, November 22, 2008

Twilight: A Fan's Attempt to be a Movie Critic

Well, after shuffling impatiently amongst a murder of twittering Twilighters for a little less than an hour, I saw the 10:00 pm showing of Twilight the Movie. It was such a relief to finally flood into that theater because one, I was finally going to witness one of my favorite books brought to life on the big screen, and two, there was oxygen to breathe.
Warning: Twilight film may cause claustrophobia.
I know you're wondering if I liked it. Can you tell if I did or not by the way I'm typing now?
Maybe I should just keep you guessing.
Okay, that's enough.
I liked it!
Maybe not TOTALLY ADORE, but I definitely did like it. A lot. Never once was I bored or wishing to leave. Never once did I glance at my cell phone which was supposed to be turned off and will the time to go faster. It was very enjoyable, every second of the way. Worth waiting, worth seeing. =D
Of course, it had it's flaws. And the title says it all - this is a critique.
So I'll get the negative over with first. It's not much, I'll assure you. Just petty concerns and peeves that come solely from the unhealthy obsession I have for the original book.

Jumbled. That was the first word that came to mind after the beginning few scenes of Bella leaving her dry hometown to spend some quality time with her daddy in wet, wet Forks. By jumbled I mean this: each scene fit together to form one big picture, but there were no transitions to make it fluid. It's like looking at a jigsaw puzzle. You see the picture that the pieces make up, but you can also clearly see the lines in between those pieces, where they were cut up. One moment Bella would be talking to her dad and the next she would be at school and I was left wondering what happened in between those two times. And one moment she would be talking to Edward about something that seemed crucial, and then the scene would end at a weird, unsatisfying spot and cut to the next. Then Edward would appear again with no warning and ask her an odd question out of the blue (which, thinking about it now, is what he did in the book. I remember being confused about his mood swings as much as Bella). "What about your family?" "What's in Jacksonville?" HUH?
At the same time that I felt the film was a bit choppy and disheveled, my mom, someone who had not even picked up any of the books from the Twilight saga, didn't find the movie to be choppy at all. She felt as though they were purposefully doing that, as a part of the whole artsy thing that the movie had going for it. And since she didn't know of any of the details that they were leaving out, the scenes seemed rather coherent to her.
I thought that was interesting. But it makes sense. Those who have practically memorized the story from cover to cover and every page in between (ahem, me) will unconsciously notice what small transitional parts had to be extracted, and of course those gaps will seem exaggerated.
You have to seperate the book from the movie when you see it. I think that goes for all book-to-film adaptations. Because if you don't, you expect an exact copy of the book you grew to love, and then the tiny details that don't come into play on the big screen nag at you and nag at you until you begin to wonder what in the hell that screenwriter was thinking when she made them do that. You begin to demand why the left that part of the dialogue out, or why they didn't make the actor give that cerain look. And then you begin to imagine how much better it would have been with those missing elements, and everything is thrown wildly out of proportion. Honestly, some parts would have been a little better if they had stuck to the book's original dialogue. The first hospital scene for instance, when Edward tries to convince Bella that she whacked her head and her mind flew to China. The Port Angeles scene as well. I so wanted Edward to ask in a lovely innocent voice if he really dazzled people. He didn't. But I actually didn't notice many of those dialogue tweaks until after the movie. They fit, even if they didn't make you go "oooh" or "ahhh". Was I the only one who noticed that? That some of the key scenes were like "blah blah vampires blah cold skin blah lion blah blah lamb blah *whoooosh*" and then they were over? The biology scenes had Edward looking conspicuously disgusted and then they were over with. The scene with the two of them sitting in the diner and discussing vampire things was like "I feel very protective of you" and then it was over. The MEADOW SCENE? The camera swirls around them while they lie completely still for a minute and then, oh, that's over. I'm not saying these scenes were bad. No, they were just the opposite. They were well done, but I yearned for more. Like, ten hours more.
Admit it, you guys. There were some cheesy parts. Like, cheese to the max. Not just cheddar. Sharp cheddar. Sharp pepper jack cheddar. (Yum. =P) The three that come to mind are the first biology scene, the part where they go in the forest and Edward shows off his vamp mojo, and the part where Edward is sucking Bella's delicious blood. Okay, that first bio encounter...I laughed. Out loud. And I don't think I was supposed to. Edward covered his mouth and nose. Smooth, Mr. I'm-Not-A-Vampire-And-No-I-Don't-Wish-To-Eat-You. He should have just had his jaw set, his hands clutching the sides of the table. And the fan? Hehe, when on earth would you need a fan in Forks? On those rare days when it's only sprinkling instead of raining cats and dogs? Sheesh. Moving on. When Bella stalked off campus and into the woods, I didn't know what that was about. She had just learned about vampires so now she was going to go into the cover of the dark, lonely trees where no one could hear her screams? I liked that forest scene up until Edward jumped up into the rays of sunlight. The way he sparkled was impressively well done, but the mood of it was kind of ridiculous. He was like "I SPARKLE AND I'M A MONSTER RAWR". And he was a bit hairy, but I didn't really mind that part. Oh, and I'm backtracking a little, but right after Bella jumped from Edward's back after he had been dodging through the trees, she just kind of stood there like "whatever". She should have leaned against the tree, breathing hard and trying not to pass out. And Edward should have been like, "close your eyes and breath through your nose, little coward, it will help" or something. I don't know why, but that small detail bugged me to no end. And then finally, that last scene with Edward trying to stop himself from sucking Bella dry...I laughed there, too. That was totally an inappropriate place to giggle, but I wasn't the only one. How could we help it when Edward clutched Bella's arm to his face and his eyes got so huge I thought they would pop?
And, yeah, the special effects were, like, pre Star Wars, but that totally did not matter to me. I'm not a real special effects person, anyhow.
Sometimes Rob overacted as Edward. Sometimes Kristen underacted as Bella. *shrug*
Now for the positives. ^___^

I really, really enjoyed the whole feel of the movie. They captured the mysterious and dark beauty of the Pacific Northwest perfectly. And hey, I'm a Pacific Northwester myself. ;D The scenery was gorgeous, and at the same time it was eerie. Like you know something silent and powerful is lurking just behind that pine tree, but you have a strange desire for it to jump out and bite you. The camera work and the way the scenes were set up was very artsy - I liked that a lot. The way the camera would swirl or shake or pan always fit the mood of the scene, whether it be romantic or magical or frightening. Even though the scenes seemed to run into each other without warning, it had an overall nice pace. The beginning was a bit slow and repetitive, as it was meant to be, and then the suspense began to build as danger and love cautiously entwined. There were the powerful moments of forbidden romance, and then the danger decided to manifest itself in the form of some killer action sequences.
How flipping AMAZING was Charlie? I totally wasn't expecting that, because Billy Burke seemed to least fit what I had imagined Bella's dad as in my mind. But he was so awkward and secretly loving and hilarious and Charlie-like. When Bella first comes to move in with him and they shift around in inept silence for a while - that was perfect. And when Charlie gives Bella pepper spray - perfect. And when Charlie cocks his gun after Bella tells him about Edward - perfect. He was perfect, and I was so, so surprised.
Speaking of surprisingly hilarious characters, what about Jessica, Mike, and Eric? They were such high schoolers, it was great. The way Mike would rush up to Bella and start talking to her and she'd be like "wuut?". And when he was like "You and Edward Cullen, huh?" *cheesy smile* "I don't like it." Jessica's explanation of the Cullens was spot on, and so was her secret bitterness towards Bella. You could tell whenever Jessica "smiled" at Bella, that she was thinking "That little b-word". It was wonderful. She was the talkative, annoying Jessica that we had come to know and love (hah) in the books without being too over the top and stupid. All of those random little funny moments between Bella's friends were priceless and they were thrown in at the most perfect times. I was very pleasantly surprised by the amount of comic relief that had been slid in and how enjoyable it really was. Without the humor, some of those scenes would have just been too much.
I was expecting Bella's voice overs to be stupid. I was prepared to cringe and go "god, why didn't they just leave that out?" But, surprisingly, they worked. Kristen could have had a bit more emotion in some parts, but I thought the voice overs helped orient the viewer and you got a sense of Bella's sarcastic yet mature personality. But speaking of Kristen, though her preformance was better than I expected it to be, I thought she could have been a little more shy and smiley in some parts. Or maybe just one blush and glance away, at least. I liked that she was a confident individual through most of the film, and they captured her stubborness very well, but Bella's relatable charm wasn't quite there. Neither was her caring nature, especially around Charlie. She didn't cook spaghetti for him! =[ Although the little restaurant they went to together was a cute addition.
Okay, guys. I know you're dying to read what I thought about Robert. I mean, he is the man after all. Edward Cullen, the man from every girl's fantasies. Edward Cullen, the dangerous yet sexy god that every girl would kill to touch. I thought he was pretty...FANTASTIC. =) Seriously, after thinking about it for all these months, I've come to realize just how impossibly complicated Edward's character is. Here's this boy who has been transformed into the most powerful creature on the planet, and yet he possesses this hunger that goes against every human being's moral to satisfy. He has a father who he looks up to as a hero, who is asking so much of him - asking him to go against his every instinct in order to protect those who are weaker. He does it, because he doesn't want to be a muderer, a monster, and he loves his family, the only beings that have ever mattered to him. Then, all of a sudden, this small, shy human girl crosses his path. Her blood is the most tantalizing thing he's ever experienced, she would be so easy to lure and kill. While he's battling this overwhelming urge to drink her blood, with only his respect for Carlisle restraining him, he falls in love. She's beautiful, interesting, loving...and the richest of chocolates. But she's the one person he can absolutely not live without, and to kill her would kill him. Did you get all that?! Imagine having all those raging emotions bottled up inside of you! What would you be like? What would your facial expressions be, how would you act? There were those occasions when I felt that Robert overacted a little - but better over than under, in my opinion. Edward's emotions are just resurfacing, and more powerful than ever. I think Rob had the perfect balance of agony, anger, love, amusement, and hunger, and fifty percent of it was displayed just in his facial expressions alone, just in his golden eyes. That's powerful. And Rob, you are one stunning son of a gun with one sexy American accent. When you smile...boy, I was dazzled. But that brings on one small complaint. Bella never looked dazzled when Edward grinned at her or leaned close to her or stared her down with his brooding eyes. =/ And he didn't do that often. And they never said "I love you" to each other, did they?
Now how about some of my favorite scenes? =]

When Bella gets her truck. Bella, Charlie, Billy, and Jake made such a great team! They were so normal and amusing. Taylor did a nice job as the innocent, playful, and affectionate Jacob - at least, for now. Heh, heh. Bella's happiness when she gets her noisy truck, so full of personality, made me smile. And, of course, when she hits Jacob with the door...HAH! :D

When Jessica tells Bella about the Cullens. Oh man, that was just so pleasing. The vamps walk in looking all modelesque with their hair in the breeze and their steps slightly slowed down. They were all beautiful, and that made me happy. And then when Jessica makes that comment about no one being good enough for Edward, and he smirks. Twilight inside joke right thurr, fo shizz!

The second biology scene. First one was over the top and made me want to hide my face. But I really liked the second one. Edward was more in control, yet still clearly (but not TOO clearly) suffering. The whole "prophase" "may I check" conversation was perfect, just how I pictured it in the book. And their awkward small talk. And Edward's topaz eyes. :)

When Bella's getting shoved around by those naughty, dirty fools and then Edward comes squeeling in his shiny silver Volvo. "Get in the car." Rawr! And then when he leaves, he does that sick spin and you're left like, whoa. That was cool. Go, Edward, go Edward.

The bedroom kiss. Oh, the kiss! It was a bit hurried, but it was sizzlin' all the same. Bella's talking on the phone with her mommy - "Oh em gee, is he a jock?!" - and then suddenly Edward appears in her room. Whew! Her mom squeals "Are you being safe?!" before Bella shuts off her phone and becomes mesmerized by Edward. The one thing that vexed me about that scene was when Edward told her he had been watching her sleep for a few months and she was just like "hehe". She should have been like "UM, WHAT? OMG HOW EMBARASSING!" but she simply accepted it like it was normal. Anyway, that annoyance quickly passed when Edward leaned in for the kiss oh so slowly. They kissed. They kissed again. Bella got worked up and kissed him a third time. Edward shoved her to the bed and they kissed some more. It got to be too much and then BAM! Away goes Edward. I thought it was hot when he shoved away from her and against the wall. And then when Bella curled up against Edward's chest like a sleeping angel, and Edward touched her face ever so gently with the utmost pain and desire in his face. *swoon*

Meeting the Cullens. One of my favorites. The sheer irony of a family of vampires watching a cooking show and cooking up some Italian food while whistling so they could please the human was absolute perfection. "Is she even Italian?" asks Rosalie. "Her name is Bella," replied Emmett. Gah! =D Emmett waving with the knife. Edward's embarassed "what the fudge, you guys?" looks. Rosalie breaking the glass salad bowl. "Nice kitty." "Ignore Rosalie. I do." "Clean that up." So normal and yet so strange. I just loved it.

Edward playing piano. I wish it had been longer and I wish Edward would have told Bella that the song was a lullaby he composed just for her. That would have made it even more magical than it already was. But Rob playing piano with those lissome fingers and that thoughtful, concentrated face? Omg. ♥

The baseball scene! Another of my favorites. The mediocre special effects just faded to the background as Alice preformed her graceful pitch and Jasper showed off his expert bat-twirling moves. Bella calling Rosalie out and Rosalie's death glare. Edward running to catch the ball. Edward and Emmett colliding then laughing. So, so much fun.

Overall, I really liked the movie. It was so different, but not in a bad way. I definitely want to see it again so that I can leave my preconceived notions from the book behind and really focus on loving the movie for what it is - a movie. It was low budget, no one knew what they were getting themselves into, and that combined with the fact that transforming a book that revolves so much around internal dispute and emotion into a movie that will capture people's attention is such a difficult task, I think Summit, Catherine, Melissa, and the entire cast did a great job of making Twilight real. Thank you so much! :D

But seriously, Edward. Could you BE any more obvious in that biology room? XD


Rhiannon said...

I love your review! It's exactly the same way I feel about the movie!! Like exactly! I was disappointed in the meadow scene and that fact that there wasn't nearly enough Edward and Bella alone time. My biggest compliant was that it felt choppy. But Rob was smoldering and he totally made up for all of my complaints! I will definitely have to see it again as well and of course buy it on dvd when it comes out!

Allyson said...

Holy cow! You nailed just about every thought I had about the movie! Love the review, laughed my butt off, and, like you, I want to see it again to appreciate it even further.

I also loved Charlie! Especially the cocking of the rifle and in the hospital when he closed the curtain in Tyler's face. Funny!

Loved Rob, Kristen was so-so (kinda flat to me), and we didn't see enough of the Cullens. I wanted MORE!!

Anyway, looking forward to reading more of your blog. :)

Twilighter said...

I'm glad you guys liked my review! ;D
I was kind of rambling. I just had so many different thoughts and I couldn't type them out quick enough.
But yes, I am totally seeing it again. =D

Paige said...

Amazing review! I agree with absolutely everything you said! The first biology scene was extremely embarassing to watch and the scenes were much too choppy. But the movie was overall very well done.
Once again, loved your review! I laughed my butt off!

Anonymous said...

As someone who had not read the book before seeing the movie, I thought it was fabulous. I can't remember the last time I was so enthralled by a movie. I was totally sucked in.
The thing with making movies from books is that they have to cut so much stuff out to make it fit into the 2-hour time frame. I would love a super-long movie, but it's not going to happen, and that's just something we need to keep in mind when watching books-turned-movies.
Rob was awesome...even the first biology class scene. While perhaps cheesy, it got an important point across to those of us who hadn't read the book...yet. I went out and bought it the next day!

Twilighter said...

That's the awesome to hear that.
Did you like the book? =D