Can’t Fight the Twilight

Posted by on November 23, 2008 in Books, Film | 0 comments

We didn’t intend to see Twilight last night; we wanted to see it eventually, but avoid the throngs of shrieking girls that would accompany this pop culture phenomenon during opening weekend. When I arrived at the theater early yesterday afternoon to buy us advance tickets for Quantum of Solace, I was surprised to see that none of the Twilight times had sold out (granted, we live in a sleepy suburb – but there are plenty of teenagers here!). After hearing that the lines weren’t long to wait for good seats, I took a chance and purchased tickets for Twilight instead.

To our surprise, they allowed early birds in the theater an hour before the film started rather than making everyone wait in a line outside. And that’s when it began…the palpable excitement emanating from gaggles of girls, proud and loud exclamations about Robert Pattinson’s eyes and whether they prefer brooding vampire Edward or the cute and mysterious Jacob. Swoons and sighs. Giggles of glee. And I sat there absorbing it all, sharing occasional eye rolls with the parents who were chaperoning in large groups of tween BFFs.

Many people have asked me if reading Stephenie Meyer’s first book of the series is essential before seeing the film. The quick answer is no. That being said, the movie is a very faithful adaptation of the book and I found myself looking forward to certain scenes because of how they would translate from page to screen.

I was pleasantly surprised by the direction of Catherine Hardwicke (Thirteen, Lords of Dogtown); she was able to establish and maintain lead character/narrator Bella’s surreal perspective throughout the film. We walk in her shoes through the dream state that her life becomes upon meeting Edward Cullen.

Everyone can attest to the fact that high school is an awkward time, complicated by love at first blush and unfamiliar lust. If there is one element that Meyer and Hardwicke both nail with great success, it is the blundering interaction between Bella and Edward…which account for a few appropriately cheesy and inadvertently funny moments on film.

Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson were perfectly cast and share an indisputable chemistry. I loved that Pattinson chose to portray Edward in a way that it was always unclear whether he wanted to kiss or kill Bella. However, my favorite relationship was actually between Bella and her father (played with quiet, understated grace by Billy Burke).

Without giving away a key scene, I will say that the confrontation between vampires toward the end was very well choreographed and executed, and it was easily the best sequence in the movie. 

Honestly, the hair and make-up used to distinguish the Cullen family from the rest of the town was distracting – it was more Halloween costume than naturally pale vampire (in unflinching close ups, the caked on white powder was painfully obvious). It was announced that they are moving forward with the sequel (New Moon), and I have no doubt that they will improve upon this look.

Overall, Twilight was exactly what I expected and what it was billed as, a PG-13 love story for teens. There is no sex and very little violence; it is the antithesis of True Blood, the fantastic new HBO series. If you are forced to see it (whether escorting your teenager or being dragged by your friends), I think you will at least appreciate the in-theater enthusiasm and on-screen angst.

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