Oct 1, 2010

[Movies] Twilight (2008)

Twilight (2008)Well I never thought I'd do this, but here it is.

In line with Banned Books Week 2010, I decided that for today's movie review, I wanted to pick a movie based on a book that had appeared on the Banned Books List in previous years. Checking out the 2009 Top 10 Most Challenged Books list, I noticed this little gem as part of the entries. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that it made the list - a big reason why books get on the list is mainly driven by the popularity of the title. And the books that get the most attention are either those that become required reading in schools or just become wildly popular with the younger set.

It's just ironic that this book series was written by a Mormon and yet it has gotten frequently challenged because of themes of religious viewpoint, being sexually explicit and ultimately being unsuited to age group. Irony right there.

Cover of "Twilight (Twilight, Book 1)"Cover of Twilight (Twilight, Book 1)Twilight is a movie based on the first book of the Twilight series of novels written by Mormon author Stephanie Meyer.

The movie (and the entire series) revolves around 17 year old Isabella "Bella" Swan (Kristen Stewart) as she and her father (Billy Burke) move to Forks, Washington after her parents separate. Her mother (Sarah Clark) is now married to a minor league baseball player - not sure if this is important, but noting it down anyway. While many of her school mates immediately warm up to her and try to be friends, she ignores all of them since she is drawn to the mysterious Cullen siblings. Eventually she gets assigned to be Edward Cullen's (Robert Pattinson) lab partner and he seems averse to her presence for some reason.

This all changes when they finally start to warm up to one another and get into a montage conversation. Finally, the main turning point is when Bella is nearly hit by an absent-minded driver but is saved when Edward swoops out of nowhere to block the van with his bare hands. After some creative internet searching, she realizes that Edward and his "siblings" are actually vampires and yet this knowledge does not scare her. Edward eventually reveals that they are different from other vampires since they only feed off of animals. As the two fall more and more in love, things get complicated when a series of mysterious murders indicates the presence of another group of vampires who do not follow the Cullen code of conduct.

I'm definitely not a fan of this series and after watching the movie, all the more I'm convinced that my views were not baseless. The whole notion of a class of vampires who can walk in the daytime and actually sparkle in direct sunlight is just absurd. Then you throw in all the weird stuff like their love for baseball (seriously, why?), their horrible fashion sense, the two-tone color eyes and all this just goes down the tubes. This movie adaptation seemed even more ridiculous because of Edward's distracting eyebrows and the fact that more than half of the student population seemed even paler than the Cullens themselves. If I were just to base it off of skin color, I'd expect almost everyone to be a vampire in this silly little town.

Kristen Stewart seems to have mastered the ability to maintain what I can only refer to as an orgasm face throughout most of the movie. She seems constantly in heat whenever she stares at people and has unusual breathing problems that require her to heave more than what is normal for humans. It gets even worse when she's pinned against a wall or down on the ground since she writhes and squirms like she's getting overly stimulated down there. And don't get me started on her obsession with her nickname. You'd think that she wouldn't be so defensive about it given it's not that bad a name - there are far worse in the world. Like Cullen.

I can't blame Pattinson too much since most of the problems of his character are related to how he was written. The whole "what do vampires eat?" routine was just painful to watch and I don't understand why he needed her to verbalize all this when she had already pretty much declared it at the beginning of the scene. And there's nothing romantic about jumping around giving Bella a piggy-back ride - didn't the director even watch Superman and how all other superheroes carry the damsel in distress?

The pacing of the movie was glacial at best and there was just a heck of a lot of "why are we watching this" moments in the beginning. It's not like all the extra exposition in the beginning really helped define Bella other than her annoyance with being referred to by her full name. The meat of the film was her getting to know Edward better and we so didn't have to suffer through the weird period of Edward being "missing" for nor particular reason. It's not like we ever found out what the heck he and his family were doing "out of town".

And don't get me all riled up about the plot warranting the pacing. It seemed like the introduction of a "villain" was really an afterthought and he had no other reason to hunt her other than the fact that she smells funny and that it would piss off other vampires, thus presenting slightly more challenge. I didn't find James (Cam Gigandet) to be that convincing as a tracker since all he did was look up her high school records and then muck around with a home video camera. Really, really impressive faux-vampire dude. And why does Victoria (Rachelle Lefèvre) have to wear that silly fur coat all the time? Is it just there to help us differentiate her from the other vampires since they all look alike?

Well, at least I can say I actually gave the movie a chance. After all, this is the geek who also watched Push and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. So watching this wasn't too horrible an experience, more or less.
As my sister says, I'm definitely not part of the target market for movies / books like Twilight. Despite my best efforts, it gets 1 illogical reason for a group of vampires to pretend to be in high school over and over again out of a possible 5.



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