Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"But what if I'm not the hero? What if I am the bad guy?"

After I saw the film several weeks ago, I started planning this huge, mildly coherent review of Twilight. I just read my review a few second ago and found it too wordy, which really shouldn't be a surprise from anything I ever type or put on paper. So I deleted it and started from scratch.

There wasn't much to say, really...

Girl moves in with her estranged father in cloudy Forks, Wa. Becomes fairly popular in school, despite the fact that she's totally awkward and don't really mesh with the other kids. Meets a gorgeous guy who may or may not hate her. Finds out his secret--gasp--he's a vampire! Hot vampire really, really wants to suck the girl's blood but tries to control himself. (How sweet.) Instead, this other vampire really, really, really wants to suck the girl's blood but only difference is that he doesn't bother to control himself. Hot vampire and family tries to save girl and they either fails miserably or succeeds. (Take your pick.)

The film has an extremely thin plot, as many may have noticed. The heart of the film lies in the relationship between the girl, Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) and the vampire, Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). The relationship itself has a certain intrigue about it, but the execution feels empty and lacking. The romance does have its share of touching moments, but not enough for me to care. Frankly, the individual characters are just not interesting enough.

Bella is somewhat interesting when she transforms into a minor sleth for several scenes until she falls into the unfortunate depths of the typical damsel in distress. Even Stewart, who does have moments of acting greatness--especially in those scenes with Billy Burke, who plays Bella's father--becomes enraptured in the cheesy dialogue and unnecessary montages. But I don't blame Stewart. Bella needs more backbone if she insists on being the protagonist of the series. It would be fine if Bella were another Mary Jane Watson or Lois Lane, but this film isn't about a superhero. This is Bella's story. Is it too much to ask for Bella to carry her own story? I do not have a single friend who likes Bella as a character. It's all about Edward...

To my frustration, Edward, the greatest love of almost every single female fan of the popular series, comes through as rather flat and boring. Sure, he seems like a pretty nice guy with a fine set of morals, but he makes me wonder: If you're over a century years old, but physically resemble a seveteen years old, do you also have to mentally resemble a seventeen year old? But Pattinson, although not alluring or charming enough to be the kind of fascinating specimen that every teenage girl would fall for, should be given some credit for delivering some ridiculous lines of dialogue without bursting into laughter.

And the whole one-hundred-plus-years-old-guy-with-seventeen-year-old-girl part still kind of disturbs me. I can't get over it, romantic fantasy or not. I mean, if you've been around for at least one hundred years, would you be attracted to a teenage girl--even if you did physicaly resemble a seventeen year old? Or, going back to my previous question, is aging--both physically and mentally--completely ceased the second you're turned into a vampire?

So many questions...

On the bright side, there is a lovely supporting cast. Burke, whom I mentioned earlier, does a quietly effective job as Bella's father. Peter Facinelli, who plays the patriarch of the Cullen clan, also does a great job with his role, despite the fact his face looks submersed in an amazingly thick layer of make-up. Taylor Lautner is also a welcome presence in the film, playing Bella's friend, Jacob. Lautner actually makes me glad that we'll see more of Jacob in the sequels (as my friends tell me).

I understand that director Catherine Hardwicke made Thirteen (which I promise I'll watch before the year ends) with a $2 million dollar budget. That doesn't mean that Twilight has to look like it was made on a low budget too; Twilight had a modest budget of about $37 million. So, where did it all go? The "special effects" (if you can them that) are laughable. There are scenes where Edward carries Bella while flying through the air (or jumping around with super high speed) and the "flying" just looks like bad animation. There is also a scene where Edward reveals why he can't go into the sun (he, um, sparkles) and the shimmering glitter on his face left everyone in my row in hysterics.

Honestly, Twilight just looks ugly and cheap most of the time. Fantasies should have an epic feel--and I'm sure there were plenty of people out there who would've loved to finance a phenomenon. The understated atmosphere of Twilight makes the film more bland than ever.

I may have a bit of a bias towards vampires or dark romances since I've never cared for them. I've never cared for danger or anything that would potentially kill me. The existence of Twilight doesn't help the genres much either. The film is ultimately a disappointment, although I wasn't expecting anything, since I am one of the few teenage girls left on this planet who hasn't finished reading the book. But if the film has any grand, redeemable quality at all, it is simply this: It's not boring.


  1. I was actually surprised to read that you haven't fallen for Edward Cullen and the Twilight series. Not because I think you have bad taste, quite the contrary, I just haven't met a young girl who doesn't have some affection for it.

    As to your final statement, it wasn't boring. I really disagree, to me that was the films major flaw. There was no real climax. Yes, they had the vampire fight, but, to me, it wasn't built with any sort of suspense or thrills.

    I actually, really dislike my review of the film because I missed such interesting aspects(that you hit, even slightly) and focused on rather unimportant questions like, why are they vampires? I wish I would have focused on Bella's lack of personality in the film and the total flatness that is Edward.

    Honestly, I'm surprised more girls aren't offended by a film that makes it seem that women cannot survive without a man watching out for them.

  2. I read about 100 pages of Twilight and put it down. I kind of wished I didn't because I could've compared the film to the book. Although I do like to read occasionally, I'm more particular when it comes to books. I like to read very specific kinds of books and Twilight certainly does not fit in my preferred genre. But I might pick it up again someday due to the enormous popularity.

    I thought your review was fine, Shawn. Your musings about vampires was interesting, heh. I also agreed with what you said about Hardwicke's direction.

    Speaking of Hardwicke's direction, it is said that she was not hired for the sequel. This is good news, even though I don't have high hopes for the sequel. (From what I've heard, Bella continues to be the typical Mary Sue.) But what does bother me is that people are turning Hardwicke's firing into some sort of gender issue. Come on, Hardwicke's direction was mediocre at best. So what if a man is hired to direct New Moon? There are some fantastic male directors out there who have directed some amazing actresses as strong, competent characters.

    Plus, girls should be offended when they see how annoyingly fragile Bella is. But Bella doesn't matter--it's all about Edward. I guess it's sort of a teenage fantasy to have a good-looking guy devote his entire life to them.

    I'm not exactly sure why I was entertained by Twilight. But I definitely wasn't bored. Everything about the film was predictable, but I was so drawn into the unapologetic cheesiness that I couldn't look away.

  3. I haven't seen it yet - it's not come out here...but I think I can agree with you whole-heartedly without having even seen it. It would be impossible to rewrite stephanie meyer's pile of romantic sap into anything un-laughable...and the anti feminism has always bothered me. Also, from what I've seen in the trailer, the special effects are a joke.

    but robert pattinson is amazing :D I mainly wanna see it 'cos of him and kirsten rather than anything else. xxx

  4. Good post Marcy, I havent seen the film, but the trailer makes it look like a budget vampire flick. I cant see why alot of girls went to see this on day one.

  5. A- nahita, I still can't believe that a woman is capable of writing such a weak female character. And I can't believe teenage girls can stand such a weak female character. I'm not an ultra feminist (yet), but is asking Bella to have some dreams (that doesn't involve becoming a vampire and being with Edward forever and ever) and personal strength too much to ask?

    I did like Robert Pattinson in Goblet of Fire, but he was just so annoyingly flat as Edward. I'm sure Kristen Stewart is talented but she couldn't do much with the material she had for Twilight.

    - Farzan, I can't figure out why so many girls flocked to see this film on day one either. Or why so many people even read the books. Maybe it's just one of those mysteries...(Unfortunately, this is coming from the person who counted down the days to HSM3.)

  6. i thought 'twilight' was supposed to be one of the big deal movies of '08. obviously, i was mistaken, and i really thank you, marcy, for saving me from any idea of seeing it
    but i think you are mistaken in your analysis of the feelings or thoughts of older men v younger girls, but this is not the place to discuss that.

  7. Richard - I've been meaning to return to your comment a long time ago but forgot. I apologize for that. But I hope my late response won't place a damper on our discussions...

    I'm glad I stopped you from seeing Twilight. Unlike the other grand fantasy epics that Hollywood has a good ol' time producing, Twilight isn't worthy of the big screen. If you really have to see the film in your lifetime, rent it or catch it on TV. It's not worth the admissions price at all.

    I just want you to know, Richard, that you're free to discuss absolutely anything here, especially if it relates to something I've written.

    In response to your older men/younger women comment, I'm sure older men and younger women (or vice versa) do frequently have romantic relationships. But what disturbs me is that Edward is 100+ years old and he falls in love like a teenager and with a teenager. I'm uncomfortable with the idea that there is a 90-ish years of age difference between these two. I mean, doesn't that kinda scream pedophilia? Just a little...?

    But since Edward is just kind of bland and boring, it doesn't really matter. On the surface, he's just a pretty boy and that's all Twilight truly reveals.

  8. i just noticed your final comment, and confess i don't remember where i saw whatever you said, or what you may have said. so, i'm not sure what i was talking about, other than to say that i think men are probably interested in younger girls at any age. this vampire may have been 100, but i thought he appeared to be a youngish man? didn't one of our past presidents famously say ' i lusted in my heart'. pedophilia, like any criminal behavior has to do with behavior, not with what may or may not be going on in your brain(up to a point). when we are not able to control our behavior then there is a problem. apparently, you have never been to a topless dance club, or whatever you call them in Fremont?

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  10. Twilight(both the movie and the books) are a disgrace to vampire novels. They portray vampires as wimpires, and take away everything that makes vampire interesting, just for the sake of romance. They
    refuse to allow any sort of personality development for the female character, and they are a disgrace to feminism, because neither Jacob nor Edward allows Bella to even attempt taking care of herself, but instead stalk her like neurotic parents. Both also refuse to allow her to make her own life decision about becoming a vampire. Furthermore, while they have made the wimpires 'vegetarian' ignoring vampire lore that animal blood is not nutricious enough to live on and/or results in less power, which could be an attempt to make the books series 'less creepy,' but they actually have three accounts of beastiality, and two of pedophilia. 1) 'And the lion lay down with the lamb.' 2) Edward and Bella's relationship, since she is basically to him what a rabbit is to humans. Yes, he has to exsanguinate her first, the same way a rabbit must be made into jerky, but she's still food to him. 3) Jacob and Bella's relationship, because he is a wolf, and apparently the shinwalkers (that is the translated proper term for Native American shape-shifters, not werewolves I believe), change under extreme emotion, and if sex is not one of those..... Next, pedophilia: 1) Edward and Bella, because hello he should have been maturing MENTALLY for the last 80 years, so even if he still looks 17, he shouldn't be that age mentally. 2) Jacob and Renesme at the very end of the series.
    Furthermore, Vampire Diaries (not that bad, but not spectacular either, and written in 1992) by L.J Smith is basically the same thing as Twilight (but it came before, ergo Twilight is a rip-off), involving a romance between a human and a vampire, the problem of another vampire, and werewolves. Hmmm, sounds like someone isn't being very original!
    Honestly, the entire series is a totally cookie-cutter, and a complete waste of time.