“Twilight” (2008)

TwilightI finally saw the movie at one of the very last screenings (at least, the tickets were cheaper). Now, I know what the fuss is all about (or do I?). I need to indicate that I haven’t read any of the Twilight saga novels, and I don’t intend to do so. Additionally, I’m interested in the vampire culture, so to say, and I read/watch everything that even slightly touches upon the topic of vampires and vampirism. Having stated that, let’s move on to the review.

To start with, I’d like to write a few words about the story. Can anyone explain to me what the story really is about? The reason why I’m asking is that I think there is no story whatsoever. The better part of the movie is somewhat introductory. We’re not thrown into the action in medias res, but we’re given a story from the very beginning, almost from a let-there-be-light moment (at least from Bella’s perspective). Unfortunately, thus it turns out painfully stereotypical, and becomes terribly predictable. I’d like to draw a comparison with another recent “vampire” production, HBO’s “True Blood.” In this series, we’re presented with a story that already began before the first episode. We don’t witness the moment when vampires come out in public, but instead we start our adventure with Sookie and Bill (the main characters) when they are already living in a world full of artificial blood, vampires, and other supernatural creatures. It’s better and more convincing this way.

As far as the characters are concerned, I’m afraid I’m going to be harsh, as well. Most of the characters are absolutely NOT memorable. I can’t remember either their faces, or their names. I actually forgot their names the moment I left the theater. Moreover, there isn’t anyone who truly impressed me. Perhaps, the reason is that the plot evolves around only two character (we all know who). Basically, all other characters might as well disappear. Altogether they are quite nice people, and I like them, but they are, simultaneously, unimportant. It’s sad, but true.

Among these I like are mostly male characters. I think Bella’s father, Charlie, is interesting: a normal guy, trying to (re)build a relationship with his grown-up daughter, but, at the same time, an outsider, having an air of mystery around him. Does that mean there’s more to it (him)? I don’t know the books, but I hope so. Otherwise, it’d be very disappointing.

Another one is Billy Black (by the way, I had to check his name on IMDB ‘cause I didn’t remember it) portrayed by my favorite Gil Birmingham. I also hope the story of his character will develop, and we’ll get to see him in action. It’s what I’m counting on. As for the rest of the characters, they don’t annoy me, but they aren’t showed as significant enough to make me remember their names.

So let’s get to two characters in the spotlight. Bella and Edward. I can’t say anything about both of them because there’s nothing to say except they are a couple (indisputably, the love story is underdeveloped). However, I’d rather write about them individually. First, Bella is nicely played by Kristen Stewart. I admit I like Bella. I know, I know, I’m surprised myself. I probably like her because I was similar when I was a teenager. A silent, outsiderish girl, not into clothes and makeup, and, on top of that, a total klutz who can’t dance. Yes, that’s me, and Bella, of course. Moreover, I like that she doesn’t have this “High School Musical” look, by which I mean excessive makeup, pearl-white teeth, expensive clothes, strong tan, etc. I’m fed up with this kind of look; unfortunately, it’s promoted in most of movies, not only for teenagers. Anyway, she looks like a girl next door. One more thing – Kristen’s performance. Most of actors are young and inexperienced, and it affects the quality of acting in the movie (though it isn’t so tragic so don’t get me wrong); hence, I think she did very well. Her acting stands out. I venture to say her acting and her character dominate the movie.

Now, I’m getting to a touchy subject of Edward Cullen. He is an absolute disappointment. I can’t even specify what I expected, but one way or another there’s nothing interesting at all about the character. He is presented as a “young god” type of guy, extremely beautiful, irresistible, and alarmingly attractive. There is nothing like that about him. On the contrary, he is boring, and his appearance is over the top. After all, it’s no surprise. The target audience is teenagers, preferably girls. I’m probably too old for this movie (!). Anyhow, Edward is dull. He has no personality, nothing what could make me want to watch him. By contrast, Bella is by far more fascinating – she is a credible flesh and blood character, whereas he is unnatural and unreal (yet not supernatural as he is supposed to be).

The character of Edward takes me to the issue of vampires. I’ve mentioned at the beginning that I’m interested in vampires. Hence, I’ve got high expectations whenever a vampire movie comes out. I honestly don’t know whether “Twilight” can be called a vampire movie. We’ve got characters who happen to be vampires, but it doesn’t seem to be enough for me. We’re introduced to a family of the Cullens, who appear to be a freakish veggie-vampire commune. They go out in sunlight; they don’t drink human blood; they help people, and liv as law-abiding citizens of the society. So what is the difference between a human and a vampire? A pale-white skin, shining in the sun? (I’ll get to the skin later.) They’re not very vampiric, after all. It simply doesn’t convince me. In contrast, there’s a group of “real” vampires. And yet, they turn out a bit boring, too. James, who’s supposed to be a brutal, murderous maniac with incontrollable bloodlust frenzy, is just another cute boy. How can I be afraid of such a monster if I haven’t even been given any sample of his frenzy? Not even once! They’re all implausible. It seems the boogeyman is a pale and not scary teenager.

I can’t refrain myself from not writing about one of the most ridiculous themes in the movie – the real appearance of the vampires. The moment before Edward exposes himself to Bella is actually the most intense in the movie. I was hoping for a true horror to start. I thought he would be abominable and hideous beyond a human’s imagination. Once more I was disappointed. Edward as well as other vampires appears yet MORE beautiful: all luminous, with skin sparkling with diamonds. It’s tempting to ask why, but I’m not going to do that since there isn’t any explanation that could satisfy me.

I spewed enough venom. I may focus on the advantages of the movie. I love the landscapes, and the locations. Although there is only a glimpse of Arizona and its desert, I immediately liked it when I saw. Then, a completely different view is showed: dark, rainy, and cloudy Washington. I love that, too. I can virtually feel the smell of the rain (which I adore, by the way) and the gusts of cold wind in the forest. I’m not a fan of Miami beaches (or any beaches for that matter) and too much sun so in this regard the movie is pleasing and soothing.

As far as the score is concerned, it is very good as well. Not only is it fun to listen to, but also an important part of the movie. It sets a slightly unsettling and mysterious atmosphere. It adds a lot of dynamic. Thanks to it, the movie watches really well. I looked forward to all the tracks, one after another.

One more advantage, and a huge one, is the way high school is presented. There seems to be a stereotype of an American high school: an utterly hostile ground, full of brainless materialistic teenagers obsessed with sex. The Forks high school is quite the opposite. It strikes me as a regular school, full of normal teenage girls and boys. It isn’t repulsive, as I’m usually lucky enough to find in movies. That is a kind of high school I’d like to go to. Sweet!

Last but not least, I need to mention the Indian/wolf family. They seem to be a reminiscence of “Wolf Lake,” a 2001 cult TV series of a lykan family. It’s one of my favorite ones so I noticed the resemblance at once. Of course, “Wolf Lake” is more fascinating and engrossing than “Twilight.” Just to name one reason, it’s memorable, and leaves you with the desire to watch more.

Overall, it is an entertaining production you can watch if you have nothing else to do. Obviously, it is a tedious, predictable, and naïve movie for emo teenagers, at the same time. However, it has certain good sides, which compensate for the predictability and the absence of the story line. After all, the music and the (rainy) atmosphere appeal to me. For these reasons, I might consider watching the next movies. Hopefully, the story will develop, and the atmosphere will become darker and sinister.

Long days, pleasant nights,

Veronica Bazydlo

5 thoughts on “…visual

  1. So harsh and so true at the same time 🙂 I gotta admit – I’ve read the whole Twilight saga. Not because I am a fan of romance of vampirism, but because I wanted to be able to criticize the overblown phenomenon of it. And I was truly surprised because the literary version of the story is very intense and so involving that I basically read it cover to cover without even noticing the gap between the volumes. It’s written very well and the whole story is actually pretty coherent there. But when it comes to the movie: GEEZ. I watched it after I had read it, with my mom, who didn’t read it at all. And the first and most important thing to say about the movie is that it makes absolutely no sense if one hasn’t read the books. I do understand that it is impossible to bring the whole story with all the details to the screen in 2 hours of a movie, yet I think that the choice of the parts left out is wrong, so wrong in this case. Twilight jumps from Bella meeting Edward to them being so much in love that she is willing to sacrifice everything for him, without showing any reason for us to even suspect they are a good couple. There are no emotions shown between them except for those connected with Eddie’s funny glittering-bloodthirsty-human (because I wouldn’t dare call him a vampire) status. The movie makes the story shallow and boring, and the soundtrack is nonsense too. It totally does not go with what is happening on the screen, it has a different pace. *Cockney accent* I am obliged to admit that I believe this movie sucks all the way. Sincerely yours, Mara 😉

  2. Queen of the Grubs says:

    I’ve recently read Rogert Ebert’s review of this movie. I love reading his reviews. This one is a very witty and hilarious analysis of Bella-Edward phenomenon. I totally agree with him. It’s really worth reading no matter whether you’ve seen the movie or not.

  3. Z przyjemnością przeczytałam Twoją recenzję i w większości się z nią zgadzam, z tym, że Bella dla mnie była tak samo bezbarwną postacią jak Edwad.

    • Queen of the Grubs says:

      Twierdząc, że Bella była ciekawa miałam bardziej na myśli to, ze wśród wszystkich postaci w tym filmie ona w pewnym stopniu przyciągała uwagę. Jako postać sama w sobie, to nie ma w niej nic szczególnego. Co do Edwarda, to NIE istnieje bardziej bezbarwna postać. (^_-)

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