May 16, 2010

Twilight - 2008

Director: Catherine Hardwicke
Writer: Melissa Rosenberg
Starring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson

"I'm the world's most dangerous predator. Everything about me invites you in. My voice, my face, even my smell. As if I needed any of that. As if you could outrun me. As if you could fight me off. I'm designed to kill." Twilight, as we all know by now, tells the story of Bella Swan (Stewart), a new resident of Forks, Washington, and her sudden and deep infatuation with the mysterious Edward Cullen (Pattinson), whose cold skin and disappearance on sunny days give the impression he may be even more peculiar than he seems.

This movie is why I dismiss so many films based solely on critical reviews. I'm a little baffled, though: I know Catherine Hardwicke is a good director, because I've seen thirteen, and I know Kristen Stewart can act, because of The Runaways. Process of elimination tells me two people are responsible for this utter disaster of a movie: Stephenie Meyer and Robert Pattinson. Let's tackle the second one first. Apparently there wasn't money in the budget for an accent coach, and it's very apparent. Every word that comes out of his mouth sounds like a struggle. I guess it makes up for it that he hates the series as much as I do, and he's only in it for the paychecks. As for Ms. Meyer...I'll try not to go on for too long, but I need to say a few things.
  • Every other line of dialogue makes the film unintentionally hilarious.
  • Meyer's complete refusal to acknowledge vampire lore = fail
  • The most interesting character in the film (Bella's mom) gets the least amount of screentime
  • The villains weren't developed, and just kind of appeared and disappeared randomly
  • Stephenie Meyer's cameo wasn't handled well.
Sadly, I can't drink enough Coppola wine to get through the rest of these movies, as enjoyable as more rip-it-apart posts like this one would be to write. For now, I'll call this film (and the series as a whole, I'm sure) the biggest waste of film since Edison invented the kinetoscope.

Interesting tidbit: Oscar-nominated Anna Kendrick (Up in the Air) gets about two lines as Bella's best friend. How she aged 5-10 years between the filming of this movie and her brush with the Academy a year later boggles the mind.


  1. Holy crap! I didn't even see the Anna Kendrick tidbit until you pointed it out. That is mind boggling!

  2. I think the "over the top"-ness is kind of the point, though.

    It's not really an attempt to define a new kind of romance, really, it is more an exploration of true depths of that. I look at it as a quest to find the "absolute zero" of the genre.

    I mean, look at the movie as if it were just a romance version of Crank. The actual genre and content don't really matter, but it is the whole process and idea behind the film that holds weight. Like, how far exactly can we push this?

    I love that each line of dialogue attempts to outdo the previous line. It's almost a competition to see who can say the most ridiculous crap in the entire world. And, let's be honest, even if a lot of people don't own up to it, there are times in a lot of people's lives wherein they hope for that kind of false emotion. I think there is a real desire to have that sort of "I need you or I will die" attraction to someone or something, even if it an extremely myopic view of relationships.

    Sometimes things don't need to be subtle to be important. A great allusion to, like, the Fertile Crescent or to The City of God is all well and good, but I think it is interesting to see just how heavy-handed everything can be.

    And, again, I don't have a problem with that, the same way I don't begrudge more acclaimed directors (I'm looking at you, Tarantino, K. Smith, Anderson) and films for recycling the same ideas, trite or not.

    As for the vampire lore, I think that is a much more awesome topic of discussion.

    I know Stephenie Meyer and Charlaine Harris are not the first authors to write about the supernatural as extremely sexy — especially given that vampires have historically been romanticized – but look at what has happened in the span of 10-15 years: In the mid-1990s, vampires had become part of the uber-action zeitgeist, with films such as Blade, Ultraviolet, Underworld, Dracula (the new ones), Queen of the Damned, From Dusk till Dawn and the like.

    But now, vampires and the occult have gone beyond being romantic themes; they are, undeniably, sexy. And not in the old school way, and not in the weird Crypt Keeper way, but as a legitimate fantasy object.

    The insertion of a vampire or werewolf into a movie or show used to mean that crazy stuff was going to happen (American Werewolf in London [or Paris]), but now it means that people are either going to be banging, or at least yearning to bang. It really is an amazing transformation.

    In 2000, if you took a sampling of teenagers and young adults about vampires in pop culture, you would get a horror/sci-fi TV show (Buffy, Angel) and an no-regrets action film (Blade).

    Ask the same question now, and you get True Blood and Twilight, respectively.

    Maybe that doesn't mean anything, but I find it truly fascinating.