Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Film Review: Twilight

Were I to chose one word to describe Twilight, it'd be "tame". But I can choose may different words. Like "anti-climactic" and "one-dimensional" and "watered-down". Okay, so those are compound words but it's my choice.

I've read the books, obviously. Devoured them. And it was the movie that prompted me to read the books in the first place. And my friends. My friends told me to. Anyway, now I've finally seen the film.

Scene from Crouching Human, Hidden Vampire.

And, well, yeah.

Bella moves from Phoenix, Arizona to Forks, Washington, the rainiest place in America. There she meets and falls in love with Edward Cullen who's a vampire and that's pretty much the end of the story. At one point she's pursued by another vampire, James, which forces Bella into the protective custody of Edward's vampire family. James is vanquished, and Edward and Bella attend the prom.

Seriously, that's it. I mean some other stuff happens, but none of it is essential to a plot synopsis. Twilight the book is by no means a brilliant work of teen fiction. It's engaging and fun, but it lacks subtlety. The film, too, lacks subtext. There's nothing going on beneath the surface, no hidden desires, no secrets, not even a delayed gratification or payoff. I can't fault the source material. I believe it's a poor adaptation, not because the movie doesn't follow the book, but because it follows the book too closely.

Seriously, you shouldn't smile because if the wind changes, your face will stay like that. Forever.

Putting the book aside for a moment, I'll do my best to consider Twilight as is. And to sum up, even though I haven't actually said anything yet, the movie is a mediocre teen vampire love story at best. There is no real conflict, nothing stands between Edward and Bella, and the film lacks a real climax. Indeed, Jame's pursuit of Bella causes some trouble for the Cullen family, but James is easily defeated and Bella's life is never in any real danger. The movie moves from moment to moment, as Bella and Edward spend most of their time being completely insufferable, complaining about how much they're in love with each other.

The movie could have used a lot more of this.

In order for a film to succeed, it must engage its audience by telling a compelling story. And audiences are most interested when they can identify/sympathize with at least one character. Unfortunately for Twilight, neither Bella nor Edward are all that sympathetic. The lack of any real intra- or interpersonal conflict only further alienates the audience; when Bella is supposed to be in danger, nobody really cares about what might happen to her.

New Moon, the second book/movie in the series is in production and due to come out later this year. I'll see it, of course. I'm curious to see how they deal with Jacob, one of the few cast members who was able to play at least two different emotions (although his embarrassment might have had more to do with just being in the movie than being directed in the movie). But I'm going to set the bar low. Real low.

I google image searched "anitclimactic" and this was the first thing I got. A bit of a let-down, really.

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