Saturday, February 28, 2009

"Twilight" movie review -- It's not just for girls anymore

Vampires are cool.

So last night I finally took the opportunity to go see the Twilight movie. (I know I'm a little behind, but give me a break -- I AM a guy, after all.) To my credit, it was MY idea, and the fact that I was seeing it with an awesome girl who had loved it the first time she'd seen it added a lot to the endeavor.

For those of you who have been living in a hole for the last few years, Twilight is the first film adaptation of the insanely popular book series by Stephenie Meyer, in which everyday girl Bella moves to a new high school and soon becomes romantically involved with a mysterious, shadowy stranger named Edward. Who happens to be a vampire.

Allow me to tell you how I got started on Twilight. I've always been a huge monster buff. My childhood consists of three main parts: eating, sleeping, and reading books, watching movies, and writing stories about monsters. The fact that Stephenie Meyer is both a fellow Latter-Day Saint and fellow Brigham Young University alum made me even more interested in the series. I'm also interested in the whole exploration of the social and emotional tapestry that makes up high school, it having been a highly-formative time in my life. So after being strongly persuaded by several friends, I took the plunge and read the first two books. Overall impressions:

1. Vampires are cool. I'm a big fan of keeping with the traditional vampire mythos (i.e. sunlight and wooden stakes=death), but Meyer's spin on the legendary race was very intriguing and made for a fresh take on how vampires operate. Trust me, if you get on the wrong side of a vampire, you're dead.

2. Werewolves are also cool. I'm more of a werewolf person than a vampire person, in all honesty. And to have them fight...well, how could that not be awesome?

3. The book was definitely written for women. By explanation, there are lots and lots (and LOTS) of long, romantic parts. How many times can you be told that Edward is perfect in every way? Hint: LOTS. And while I am very big on the importance of character development, the books dragged a lot for me. That being said, the relationship between Bella and Edward was interesting to follow, as she slowly comes to figure out just what kind of love interest she's dealing with, and how they deal with it together once the secret is out.

4. I will never be Edward. In a recent church gathering where the discussion topic was dating, our bishop asked us what kind of qualities girls are looking for in a partner. One fellow piped up "Edward Cullen!" It was a joke, but for many people not too far off the mark. In real life, guys don't always talk about their feelings for pages and pages. Guys can be selfish and just plain pigheaded. Guys have ugly days. (And the same goes for the unrealistic expectations guys can have about girls--this coming from a guy who is in the superhero comics industry.) But I'm not too bitter, as long as people can separate fact from fiction.

5. Once we jump from scenes of drawn-out romance and hundreds of pages of mournful, soul-crushing heartbreak (75% of Book 2), there are some very intense and white-knuckle scenes of danger, suspense, and action. Woo-hoo! Something for the guys! :)

I may sound overly negative, but in all reality I really enjoyed the books. Vampires, romance, in-depth characterizations, mystery, suspense and action--Stephenie Meyer has done a wonderful job of creating a mesmerizing universe.

So finally, on to the movie!

My first impression on the film was that after perusing its profile and checking out the cast was to smirk at the corporate meddling. While the vampire characters were appropriately beautiful and flawless as expected, the smaller characters, i.e. Bella's awkward, sometimes geeky, a.k.a. NORMAL high school friends were ALSO being played by beautiful and flawless actors and actresses. They were also much more multi-cultural than in the book. One character, a tall and gawky nerdy kid who pines for Bella, was being played by a hip and sleek Asian actor. Not necessarily a bad thing, but it just seemed a little like corporate suits trying to mess with a cast of characters that wasn't really in need of changing. Having now seen the film, however, the entire cast did a fine job. The aforementioned "normal" kids in the cast were very natural and fun as awkward but good-hearted kids; rarely did their portrayals seem forced or unnatural. The fact that they were also real teenagers as opposed to the supermodel twenty-somethings we're used to seeing in high school movies was very refreshing.

As for the leads, Kristen Stewart as Bella and Robert Pattinson as Edward were very good and solid in their roles. Their chemistry was undeniable, and though my date for the movie chuckled about their sometimes "cheesy" lines, I really didn't have any problem with it. The famous lines between Bella and Edward -- Bella: "How old are you?" Edward: "Seventeen." Bella: "How long have you been seventeen?" Edward: "A while." -- were pretty darn cool when spoken on screen.

One minor complaint, and this is probably due to the budget constraints the film was under, was the special effects were a little iffy. Wirework for the vampires' super agility was accetpable, and led to some cool action scenes of throwing each other smashing into walls and glass. Action! Woo! But the fast-motion blurs for their super-speed kind of looked weird and a little embarrassing. I hope the success of the first film will allow for a bit more to be spent on the special effects in the sequel.

The movie also did a good job of adapting a huge book into a two hour time frame. This often meant scenes from the book were combined or taken out altogether, a few new scenes added, etc. The film also moved at a very steady clip. Having read the book, I had no trouble staying caught up with the plot, but I wondered if people who were only experiencing Twilight as a film would be a bit lost.

So overall, I found Twilight the film to be very enjoyable. I didn't find it hideously cheesy or poorly made as some critics have complained. I didn't mind that the action scenes were minimal compared to the romance scenes. The film's overall mysterious and spooky aura, together with fine acting by the entire cast, made this one a good experience. I am excited for the sequel! (More werewolves in that one.)

Now if I can just get the motivation to brave the romance-heavy monologues of the series and take a crack at Books 3 and 4...


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Heather said...

Quinn! Love the review, I'm glad you finally saw the movie! I think you should totally read the 3rd and 4th book. breaking dawn is my favorite. also, check out midnight sun on stephanie meyer's website. MUCH better than twilight :) it's the first book, re-written from edward's POV.

JB said...

I downloaded the movie while in Afghanistan, but I only watched parts of it.

I have, however, read this version of the script: If 'Twilight' Was 10 Times Shorter And 100 Times More Honest

I guffawed with laughter.

I'll probably watch the movie once RiffTrax comes out with commentary.

watch Twilight New Moon said...

Loved the book, loved the first movied... now i can't wait for New Moon to come out!