“Twilight”: a brief review (w/spoilers)

My wife turned to me on yesterday (Thursday) morning and said, “I’d like to see the midnight showing of ‘Twilight’ tonight.” So we went; I’m always game for seeing a moving on opening day/night. And since I’ve read all the “Twilight” novels as well, I had my own interest seeing how the movie turned out.

Answer: not bad. In fact, pretty decent, given the relatively low budget and the need to edit down a very thick book into two hours. I have to give major credit to Kristen Stewart, who does a great job as Bella; most of the other actors do quite well, also.

The biggest problem, frankly, is Edward (played by Robert Pattison). Not that Pattinson does a bad job with the role. It’s that Edward in the book is described as so impossibly good looking and physically perfect that I”m not sure any actor could have lived up to that, at least not without some major and expensive special effects. (When the movie was over, a young woman behind me said, “That’s not my Edward!”)

The biggest weakness in the (adjusted) story arc was, ironically, Bella falling in love with Edward. The film only used a minor amount of internal narration — mostly at the beginning and near the end, modeling itself after the book. As such, we had little clue as to what Bella was actually thinking while she was staring at Edward: was she mad? Curious? Trying to figure him out? Once the romance started, the characters did a better job of selling it.

The movie did a good job of introducing some humor into the story, partly because the whole audience knew that Edward was a vampire before Bella did and so tended to giggle at things he would do or say, since they knew why he was acting that way. The movie also did a good job of putting out there (with a iight touch) the humor from the incongruities of Bella being around this family of vampires.

Demographics: the midnight showing — in a large metropolitan area with lot of multiplexes around — was sold out. The audience was at least 90% female, and I’m willing to be that almost all of the males who were there were (like myself) there with a female. The female ages skewed young, but there were plenty of women in their 20s, 30s, and even 40s there. I spent time looking around the audience before the movie started and came away pretty sure that I was the oldest male there (55); in fact, I only saw two others who looked as though they could even be over 40.

All in all, a decent job. I’ll be interested to see just what it does at the box office. Spoilers (such as they are) after the jump.

The film actually does a pretty good job of editing the book down and changing some of the sequence of events. The climactic fight between Edward and James at the ballet studio is actually far more effective — and brutal — than the brief snippets in the trailers lead you to believe.

The special effects were a bit uneven. Edward running through the forest, climbing trees, and so on, was a bit underwhelming as effects. The fight scene, as mentioned, was much better. The absolute best in terms of direction, cinematography, and general staging, however, was the baseball game. It was great, and I’m sorry it ended as soon as it did.

It’s been quite a few months since I read the book, and I’ve only read it once, so I can’t really comment on how much was changed or edited out. But I think the film is well done, and I suspect it will be quite successful.  ..bruce..

2 thoughts on ““Twilight”: a brief review (w/spoilers)

  1. I know it is tantamount to heresy as a 30 something Mormon woman to admit this, but…I only read the first book and I kind of felt like it was 300 pages too long and so full of teenage angst it could have been written by Judy Blume — and even then, not as well. I know, I didn’t like it, gasp! I am glad to hear the movie was not abysmal, in fact far better than that. I am delighted for Stephenie Meyer’s success, but cannot help feeling like everyone else is seeing something I am not.

  2. Not heresy at all. Her books are overlong and filled with teenage angst; it’s one of my major criticisms of them. When I finished the first one, I asked Sandra (who hadn’t read it yet), “Are teenage girls really like this?” She read it and then said, in effect, “Yeah.” I suspect your teen years were a bit different; you probably were already developing that bright, cynical wit that we love so much about you. (No, really!) In fact, the thought of dropping you into Bella’s role sounds like a much more fascinating and entertaining book than the original. Edward would never know what hit him (though he might kill you before the end of the book). ..bruce..

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