Review: Twilight

Twilight One Sheet

Director: Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown)
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg
Producer: Wyck Godfrey, Greg Mooradian, Mark Morgan, Karen Rosenfelt
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Billy Burke, Peter Facinelli, Elizabeth Reaser, Cam Cigandet, Nikki Reed, Jackson Rathbone, Ashley Greene
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 122 min


When it was announced that Stephenie Meyer’s wildly successful book “Twilight” was being adapted for the big screen, no one seemed to pay much attention but when fans started to buzz at the possibility of seeing their favourite (and for many, their first) sweeping romance on the big screen, the media took note. And who can blame them? Out of the woodwork came a devoted legion of fans, mostly female, ready to react with the fervour usually reserved, and expected, from fanboys; watching every trailer, reading every new tidbit of information, carefully dissecting and discussing every photo. Were the fans, a group of teens and women, vindicated by the greatness of the film adaptation? In one word: no, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a fan who didn’t walk away satisfied with what they saw.

Twilight Movie StillIt’s a simple story: girl meets boy, boy is apparently unattainable, boy and girl eventually fall in love. At its core, Twilight isn’t a vampire story; it’s an age-old tale of lovers divided. In the past these tales revolved around feuding families or class inequality but in this case it’s vampirism. What could be more dividing than the thought that you could be devoured by the man you love? Perhaps it speaks to the sensibility of the masses that love isn’t easy. There are hurdles to jump and often, giving up is easier than giving in but the fact that these two, Bella and Edward, stick it out suggests that sometimes, love is worth a fight to the death.

The film is a surprisingly faithful adaptation of the novel. The key players are all here as is all the action but it’s lacking the most important element: the character development. Melissa Rosenberg’s script touches on all of the main plot points and introduces the key characters but her script fails to create whole people out of them. Even Bella and Edward, the romantic duo, are only lightly shadowed. From scene to scene I found myself recalling the novel, filling in the blanks left by the script – the interactions between Bella and Mike, the tension with Jessica and the awkwardness of meeting the Cullen’s. There are vague attempts to fill in some of these blanks but these are left mostly to Bella’s limited voiceover and in every case, it is focused specifically on Edward. That leaves the young cast with the daunting task of filling in the blanks with their performances and the results are mixed.

Twilight Movie StillFor the most part, the supporting cast of “human” players, manage to capture the basic traits of their characters but given little dialog and small scenes, it’s impossible to make a clear assessment of who they are and what they want. As for the Cullen’s, they’re at an even greater disadvantage because they don’t even fit the typical teen “molds” and the film fails to distinguish between them other than to note that Rosalie doesn’t like Bella while Alice is keen on the opportunity for a new friendship. And then there are the leads. Kristen Stewart adequately captures the ferocity and passion of her character while Robert Pattinson has taken Edward in a slightly different direction then the novel. Though for the most part his direction seems to have read “brooding” and “more brooding”, he manages to create a character that is both removed yet appealing. A large part of it is projection from the novel but when he and Stewart share the screen, the sparks do fly.

Director Catherine Hardwicke, a woman with a knack for telling compelling stories of teens on the fringes (see Thirteen and the not quite as good but still compelling Lords of Dogtown) does a fairly good job of adding a feel of reality to the seriously contrived story and with the help of long-time collaborator cinematographer Elliot Davis, the film looks beautiful. The surroundings are lush, colourful and romantic and there’s a magical realism to the locale. It’s not the bland filmmaking one would expect from a middle of the road blockbuster, there’s serious cinematic talent at work here and it shows in the look of the film. But the reality is shattered by the sub-par effects that local critic Kevin Williamson compared to a ““Smallville” blooper reel.” There will always be an element of silliness to a story set in the “real world” where the supernatural is introduced and here it feels like Harwicke knew that it would look out of place and the film features the minimum amount of the supernatural, which I appreciate, but the scenes that are included are poorly rendered. I would have preferred a more subtle approach, like the opening scene where Hardwicke refrains from showing the movements and simply creates the feeling of the supernatural at play – the less is more would have been more successful.

Admittedly, the expectations weren’t high but Twilight managed to surpass them. Though it plays best as a companion piece to the novel than a stand alone film, it’s not complete rubbish. Non-fans will find a gorgeously shot romance which captures both the innocence and passion of budding love in a classic 50’s style where the kiss is the height of rapture (that “less is more” approach I mentioned before is used to great effect here), while those familiar with the story will be thoroughly engrossed and satisfied by the production.


Click “play” to see the trailer:

Links:
IMDb profile
Official Site
Flixster Profile for Twilight

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Kurt Halfyard
Admin

*Curmudgeon that I am I hope that this leads to better projects for Kristen Stewart (Greg Mottola's Adventureland does not look like one of them though) who I really liked in Undertow (however brief), Panic Room and Into The Wild.

In the meantime, I'll just post this:

<img src=&quotcomment image" alt="" />

And fellow Ghostbusters fan Mary-Anne Johanson posted an amusing review all in 'girly-speak' which is worth a read for its incredibly potent snark value.

Andrew James
Admin

I'm really torn here. If I can get into a screening by way of screen-hop, I may have a go at this one. Otherwise on one hand this looks horribly cheesy and trite. On the other, all the stills and trailers I've seen are gorgeous… and it IS vampires after all.

But Kurt is right. Depressing that "Let the Right One In" is opening all over the world today as well and no one will go see it because of the media hype on Twilight.

Matt Gamble
Guest

“Let the Right One In” is a vastly superior film but they’re not even hitting for the same ballpark

Exactly. LTROI is trying to reach intelligent theatre goers. Twilight is going for girls. 😛

Rusty James
Guest

I've got to see this Let The Right One In movie. Saw Twilight last night. I thought it was fine, and pretty much exactly what I thought it would be. But everyone else in the theater was obviously a fan of the books and they were laughing aloud at it's ridiculousness.

trackback

ROW THREE SUPPORTS ITS SPANISH FRIENDS TOO:

[…] Row Three: 3 de 5; SlashFilm: 5 de 10; Arrow In The Head / Joblo.com: 3 de 10; FirstShowing.net: 3.5 de 10; ScreenRant: 3.5 de 5; FilmSchoolRejecst: nota D. […]

Agent Orange
Guest

Position: "There will always be an element of silliness to a story set in the “real world” where the supernatural is introduced"

Counter: Let the Right One In. This film proves that it is possible to not end up with a "Smallville blooper reel" feel.

Alecsander
Guest

ABOUT COMMENT NUMBER 8 IN THIS PAGE: THAT'S MY BLOG IN THE PINGBACK LINK. MY NAME IS ALECSANDER AND… HONESTLY, I THINK YOU SHOULD KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SPANISH AND PORTUGUESE. FOR CHRIST SAKES…AFTER ALL, I'M THE POOR LITTLE UNDERDEVELOPED BASTARD IN THE PICTURE HERE… BRASIL SPEAKS FREAKING PORTUGUESE GUYS.. HELLO!!! WAKE THE F**K UP!

Andrew James
Admin

Jesus dude. I take back what I said about "our friends." Lighten up. Why "SHOULD" I know the difference between Spanish and Portuguese? Do you know the difference between Chinese and Japanese? I sure as hell don't. There are other ways to correct someone's ignorance. And because you're being a dick, I'm about an inch… sorry, a centimeter, from pulling your ping back altogether.

David
Guest

"Why “SHOULD” I know the difference between Spanish and Portuguese?"

Because one is actually a REAL world economic power with the LARGEST military in Europe; while the other can't seem to figure that selling raw natural materials at half their worth on the world market, and triple taxation on it's population to compensate for that loss, is NOT the way to grow an economy!

"There are other ways to correct someone’s ignorance."

Yes, but unfortunately, this site would appear to attract a whole lot of assholes, dude! Sorry, but if this where my site, a written essay would be REQUIRED to gain membership!

rot
Guest

David, you make Henrik look well-mannered by comparison.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Heh. I think David only reads his own comments to set the tone around R3. Things are normally pretty civil and thought-out around here.

Jonathan
Admin

Maybe I am mistaken here, but the friends I have from Brazil that speak Portuguese have told me that their language is so similar that they can both communicate with Spanish-speaking people and read Spanish. So, is it really that hard to believe that someone not fluent in either language wouldn't know the difference by just glancing at a site?

Andrew James
Admin

What is going on around here? Are you people for real? The review is on Twilight (i.e. teenage Vampire love story) and there are people actually debating (in a negative way) about the difference between Portuguese and Spanish and which country has a better socio-economic place in the world.

sigh…

I hope we never have to resort to editing or removing comments around here. For a year it's been a lively place for film debate and discussion and very friendly… that has changed in the past week based off of film reviews.

Goon
Guest

I highly doubt we're going to be able to keep on arguing with someone who is just going to bail on the active threads, hop on another thread, claim victory, and start again. He's already buttering for defending him so you'll be torn. It'll be okay, don't pull a Campea.

We come to RT for movies first, I have no problems with political argument here or there but The Movies Are The Meat. If David can't grasp that we'll treat him like The Parsley and he'll cease to exist.

Goon
Guest

(btw, the Portugal thing was so random on here I just laughed at it. It's like RowThree created a Non Sequitor Machine)

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I found the Spanish/Portugal thing funny too. I'm sure it was an honest mistake from Fortress America. It comes from being boxed in by two big oceans. (Canada is guilty too).

It is equally hilarious because we have covered a lot of Portuguese stuff here via Marina (Saramango, Manoel de Oliveira, etc.) not to mention portuguese language stuff like Bus 174, City of God, Tropa De Elite.

As Goon said. How Random.

Goon
Guest

Bus 174 is the best movie I've ever bought for a dollar 😛

Goon
Guest

iff uh whell rittan esai were rekwired to gane memburshipp i wood mayke rite a bowt Spane.

Alecsander
Guest

Ok! Sorry guys, and i mean that, even to the one that called me a dick (the inch-centimeter joke was awsome). I'm sure you didn't mean it and i overreacted. Anyway, i needed to say something, and i'm glad you guys said somthing back. Enough said about it.

Now, about Twilight, the realese date for Brasil is december 19 (can you believe that? a totally non-REAL-world-economy-sort-of-thing!), and i'm about to watch it, of course. As Dr. House said, about Jagger, you cant always get what you want. At least not here.

I watched last week "Let the right one in" and i was blown away by it. i think it's the better vampire thing in ages! Of course i don't speak swedish, so, i had subtitles.

So, when i actually watch Twilight, i'll be back to tell you what i think. Gotta go now… have to google "mandarin".

Alecsander
Guest

uhh… sorry, "the best vampire thing… "

my english sucks, as you already know!

Rusty James
Guest

@ the inch-centimeter joke was awesome

ANDREW TOTALLY STOLE THAT JOKE FROM ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Alecsander
Guest

At least people are saying that the movie Twilight is better than the book! I have to doubt it, they are just different things. Different languages i guess! What do you all think?

Jonathan
Admin

There are very few instances where the movie is better than the book. At least in my opinion. Books generally delve into their minds of the characters and develop them far more, which makes them far more interesting.

I haven't read Twilight though, so I don't know!

Chris Lindsay
Guest

Robert Pattinson said that Twilight is a metaphor for sexual abstinence. Like Titanic and Romeo and Juliet, it is also a story of forbidden love, but it does not end in tragedy. I like your final statement about the film: “a classic 50’s style where the kiss is the height of rapture.” It is hard to think of a modern romantic movie where the male and female do not have sex. Twilight is groundbreaking in that regard. I wrote a short post on the film called “The Byronic Hero.” If you would like to read it, here is the link: https://christopherjohnlindsay.wordpress.com/2015/08/09/twilight/

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