23.11.08

Movie Review: I loved Twilight and I don't care who knows it!



Even if you've been crouching under a subway to avoid the stampedes of teenage girls headed to theaters, you've still heard the deep sighs about Twilight. After reading a ton of the reviews, blogs, and fan outcries, the general consensus is that Twilight doesn't quite make the grade. I've heard it all, "they can't act," "the special effects were laughable," "it was camp beyond camp," and the worst, "they murdered the book." In a situation like this, it would be easy to go along with the crowd and laugh off the movie like most people are doing, but I'm not one to sit idly by while people trash something I love. And love Twilight, I did. It's not that I don't see any truth in the criticism, I just refuse to let it alter the amazing movie-going experience I had. A year ago my friend Aleena and I made a pact that our love for the Twilight book series would bring us together for the epic film premiere (no matter where in the world we were). Luckily, New York and Boston aren't too far apart, and I made the journey to join my college bestie for our Twilight reunion. Our theater was overflowing with estrogen (as well as a few dragged boyfriends), and as the lights began to dim, piercing shrills echoed throughout the city of Boston; Twilight had begun. The story centers around a seventeen year old girl who moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington, the rainiest, cloudiest place on earth. She moves in with her father and begins a typical boring life at a new school, only to discover that Forks is far from normal. She meets a "boy" named Edward, and the rest is history (literally). Twilight is a four book series, and even though the story gets increasingly complicated as the books go on, at its core, it's a very classic love story (even sappy at times). 

During the months leading up to its release, fansites have been posting up-to-the-minute news on the film's stars and what Twilight had in store the Twihards (female versions of Trekkies). Stephenie Meyer followers eagerly awaited what I'm sure they fully anticipated to be the best night of their lives. But the excitement felt upon entering the theater was sucked dry by the end (c'mon I had to make one vampire pun...). Aleena and I shot each other knowing glances from our seats, and without a word understood that as soon as the movie was over, we had to brave the Boston cold and escape the congregations of disappointed Twihards to fully communicate our undying (ok, last pun I swear) love for the film.

Seeing one of my favorite book series come to life was amazing. I won't do what everyone else is doing and compare it
Harry Potter, but I will just say that not all HP fans loved the movies when they first came out either. When you love a book series that much, it's hard for anything to be good enough since the expectations are so astronomically high. It's also good to keep in mind that the HP movies got better with time, and now that Summit has officially greenlit a
New Moon sequel, the franchise has the chance to do it all over again. Hopefully some of the fans disappointed with Twilight will come back to see the sequel and give the movies a second chance. But, like I said, I personally was ecstatic with the film and would only change a few minor things: take out the flashback sequences, pump up the special effects a bit with a bigger budget, and add more Edward/Bella dialogue. Despite these desired changes, the key elements were there.

Numero uno under requirements was good chemistry between the two leads, and I give the casting dept. an A++ on this.
Kristin Stewart (Panic Room) as Bella Swan and Robert Pattinson (HP&The Goblet of Fire) as Edward Cullen, look like a real couple (both on screen and in the tabloids). Both actors spoke about their instant connection during the audition process and how much their relationship developed on set. It's already been well reported that Pattinson not only greatly admired Stewart, but repeatedly proposed marriage to her (Kristin of course, just laughed it off). Both actors has been described as "on the cusp of stardom," and it was widely expected that Twilight would be the film to rocket them into a new super-stardom realm. In spite of the movie's questionable reviews, Twilight has, in fact, put these talented people on the map. They both still have a long way to go before Oscar noms, but I think they both have the potential to get there. Edward and Bella's romance is what holds the books together, and for me, it is what held the fragile movie together as well. As long as I could believe that the two main characters wanted and needed each other as badly as the books convey, than I knew I would love the movie, come hell or high water. While I have been less then thrilled with actor's public antics (floppy hair and less than eloquent ramblings about being an actor), they were believable as the characters and for a rather simple love story, that's all you need. Another plus for the film was their shooting location. Shooting in Portland, Oregon was about as close to Forks as one could get. The scenery was unbelievably beautiful (soaring tree tops and plunging waterfalls), even under all that cloud cover. The last piece of the puzzle was the film's direction. Summit's choice to go with well-known indie director Catherine Hardwicke (best known for her teenage hit Thirteen) over a blockbuster director, was a smart one. While parts of the film still looked a little slick for my tastes, her overall feel was more handheld and intimate, focusing on close-ups of the actors rather than distant shots. Through all of her interviews, it's easy to see that Hardwicke
loves this series and was thrilled to bring her vision of it to the screen. I agree with some of the criticism that Hardwicke didn't quite grasp all elements of the both the plot and the characters (for instance, they don't brood throughout the entire book, but they basically do the whole movie). But I think she garnered all of the most important components, and did the best she could with the budget given. I would love to see her direct the sequel, but it could also be very interesting to see someone else have a shot (maybe a foreign director?).

The rest of the cast is also enjoyable. Particular standouts include Charlie Swan (Bella's dad) and Carlisle Cullen (Edwards "dad") played by
Billy Burke and Peter Facinelli. Both men were able to encompass exactly what I had envisioned for their characters both in looks and characterization. Cam Gigandet, as the ruthless tracker, James, is also good in his role, although probably not given enough screen time to be as terrifying as he should have been. Obviously in order to adapt a 544 page book into a 2 hour movie, a lot needs to get cut, but everything I remembered best and loved most about the book was present in the film. The infamous ballet studio scene was also much better than I had expected. Hardwicke really proved that she can do a good action sequence. I could go into more detail on other scenes, but I don't want to give too much away. Though it's been several days now since I saw the movie, I am still coming back and remembering little details that I loved. All this being said, if you have never read the books nor had any interest in reading them, I would warn you against seeing the movie. It was really made for the fans and therefore, an outsider would have a very difficult time enjoying some of the humor and private jokes. But, if you feel brave, I always encourage seeing a movie for yourself and making up your own mind.

Short and Sweet

I loved the film, but not everyone else will. It's got it's fair share of flaws, but for me they failed to affect how happy the overall experience was. The leads have INCREDIBLE chemistry and are worth watching for any romantic. Don't go in with exorbitant expectations. If you haven't read the books, CAUTION, you may not get some of the film's hidden parts for fans. And finally, if you have read the books, please see it with an open mind, and you might be surprised how much you enjoy it!

Fav Quotes

"
Yeah. Um... I had an adrenaline rush. It's very common. You can Google it." 
-Edward Cullen

"You better hold on tight spidermonkey." -Edward Cullen

"Is she even Italian?" "Her name is Bella!" -Rosalie Hale and Emmett Cullen

1 comment:

coffee said...

i don't understand what is the appeal of Robert Pattinson (Edward), his nose looks funny