Writers: Melissa Rosenberg (screenplay), Stephenie Meyer (novel)
Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke
So, after long last, we are finally here! Twilight month has begun and I’m here to give you my first review of the extremely popular franchise. Just remember, you asked for these reviews, so I will be as honest to the most extreme about this series.
And… here… we… go!
So, the first film which is directed by Catherine Hardwicke was released back in 2008, several months after the world was rocked by The Dark Knight. Hardwicke has an interesting career prior to making the first Twilight film. She also directed the controversial film Thirteen, which painted an uncomfortable picture of teenage girls in present day America. The film was also a breakout performance for Evan Rachel Wood, who absolutely rocked the lead character. Hardwicke went on to direct Lords of Dogtown, which involved the start of the skateboard movement in the States. Another film that captured teenage angst amidst a culture change. So, it’s not a wonder Hardwicke was chosen for this film having experience directing the rebellious soul of the teenager. She basically is the perfect fit for the duties. So, what the hell went wrong?
The only answer I can imagine is the source material. Several things bothered me about what this new take on vampires was attempting to accomplish. I have been told that the later films take themselves less serious than the first installment, and if so, then maybe this journey will get easier.
I won’t dive into the story too much because chances are if you’re reading this you already know what this series is about. Bella (Kristen Stewart) moves to Forks, Washington with her father. She knows absolutely no one in school, but has little trouble making friends once she arrives. One of these friends being Anna Kendrick… WOOHOO! This movie definitely needed more Anna Kendrick.
Anyway, while mingling with the new crowd, the cool kids start gossiping about a mysterious family known as the Cullen’s, who all seem to suffer from the same skin pigmentation and eye problems (no one questions this). One of them in particular is the famous Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson), who has a magnificent set of a hair. Seriously, this guy is one step away from becoming Ace Ventura.
Then we have the very first encounter between Edward and Bella, which is magnificently awkward and off-putting. I’m not sure why any girl would pursue a guy after a first impression such as this. She walks into the class room he acts like an asshole, then moments later she sees him in the principal’s office trying to change classes. If I’m a new kid, my first reaction would be a middle finger, but that’s just me.
Bella isn’t any person though, she’s a girl fascinated by the angst and mystery of Edward. She seeks to know why he was such a dick. Edward vanishes from school for several days, and her curiosity just grows stronger, because she has nothing better to do but be obsessed with some douche who snubbed her, right? Yep.
Edward returns after days of disappearing and is the complete polar opposite personality of who he was before. He’s now interested in who she is and doesn’t say much about his behavior prior to returning. Things start taking off from here. Edward ends up saving Bella’s life from being taken as he stops a car with his bare hands (Not a single person sees anything). Bella starts questioning why… blah blah blah, long story short, Edward is a sparkly vampire.
So, now that we’ve established all this, let’s dive into the chemistry between Stewart and Pattinson, which is a tad bit one-sided. I have to admit, Pattinson did an excellent job at playing a vampire who is in love with her, but Stewart lacks any real emotion in this movie. She phones-in romance like elderly Bruce Willis phones-in an action movie, which is a shame. I actually dug her as an actress in films like Into The Wild and Adventureland. The latter showed she could bring chemistry to a strange love story. It might be because she thought the material was just as silly as others, but whatever the issue she didn’t deliver.
Speaking of silly, I have two major scenes I want to address which were terribly awesome. I mean, it was so bad, I was waiting for Nicolas Cage to show up. The first being the amazing baseball sequence where the vampires have to play during thunderstorms. Why do they have to do this? You guessed it? Because they smack the ball so hard, it makes a sound of thunder. If the rest of the movie didn’t take itself so damn serious, this scene would’ve played differently. Instead, it just ended up being hilarious for all the wrong reasons.
Next scene I want to mention is the vampire reveal with Edward. This is why changing the mythology hurts the tragedy of being a vampire. Edward takes Bella to where sunlight is, and plans to show her the curse he struggles with. Soon as his skin hits the sun, he glitters up like Christmas. Bella’s response, “You’re beautiful!” Not a curse at all people. If he approached the sun and almost burned to death, the impact would have hit harder. Sparkling in sulight is not a curse, I don’t care who says so.
I know I’ve had a lot of complaints and I will offer a few tidbits of praise. The film is shot extremely well, especially the way nature is captured with the photography. Even the landscape footage was decently handled. One of the changes I actually appreciated to the vampire mythology was the addition of vampire venom. That idea actually gave me chills and I’m not even sure if it’s been explored before. My final praise is the joyful reminder that this movie had Anna Kendrick… Because every movie should have Anna Kendrick.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what I think when it comes to this movie. You know why? Because it wasn’t made for me. Plus, they’ve made crazy money from the franchise anyway. If you enjoy the first Twilight, then I won’t argue with you. I never thought I would say it, but yes, there is way worse movies out there. All that aside, judging from director Catherine Hardwicke’s catologue alone, this is a terrible film. You can say the same just judging from vampire films as a whole. This is just my opinion though.
The Twilight Saga: New Moon drops very soon! Stay tuned!