Monday, November 24, 2008

Team Edward

Three guesses what movie I saw this weekend and the first two don't count.

The truth is, I was as excited to see "Twilight" as The Child and her friend J were. I've read all the books and while I haven't been going on line looking for every bit of every interview or fan vid ever created, I have been hopeful that the film would be worth seeing. This is one of those wickets; not unlike the one the Harry Potter people had to unstick. When you have a series that is as popular and well-loved as that, or this, you had better make sure you do your level best to get it right. If you don't you risk being torn into a million pieces and being burned so the pieces don't rejoin.

Even if you don't live with a teenage girl, you can't help but have heard about the Twilight series, written by Stephanie Meyers. The books follow a very human teenager named Bella, who falls in love with a vampire. Edward and his "family" are all "vegetarians"...they have trained themselves not to drink human blood. But that doesn't mean a relationship with a sweet smelling human is going to be easy.

What's great about the books (each one better than the last, imho) is that Bella is a regular teenager. She's smart and pretty but she doesn't have a ton of self-confidence. She doesn't see herself as particularly capable or lovely and she's a terrible klutz. Then she meets this absolutely beautiful boy and falls in love with him. The complication of his being undead and her being mortal is only the beginning. Hey. The course of true love...

The movie hits all the high points of the book without "wasting" any time on exposition or back story. (This distressed The Child because she thinks the stories of how the Cullen "family" found each other are integral to the tale). The focus is decidedly on Bella and Edward. Fortunately, this is successful because Kristin Stewart ("Panic Room", "Into the Wild") and Robert Pattison ("Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire") are perfectly cast. Ms. Stewart is Bella, with her cloud of dark hair and soulful eyes. She registers perfectly a discomfort within her own skin, which vanishes whenever she's with Edward. She also does a good job of slipping and bumping into stuff. (Bella's clumsiness really is an important part of her character and I'm glad they didn't leave that out. Perfect teenagers are such a bore).

Pattison, as Edward, is equally compelling. It doesn't hurt that the young man is absolutely beautiful. Edward is a tortured character, obviously. A) he doesn't know whether to kiss or drink his girlfriend and 2) he views himself as a monster even though he doesn't kill humans. He is, in other words, not 100% down with being undead. Pattison does the dark, brooding thing really well.

My biggest problem with the movie, frankly, were the effects. They were, in this day and age, pretty lame. The vampires of Meyers' creation are very fast and powerful while being supremely elegant at the same time. The special effects folks just couldn't figure out how to convey both speed and grace in a convincing way. And, for those of you who have read the books, they didn' t really get the sparkly thing right, either. I'll give 'em snaps for one thing, though...there's a scene where Bella and Edward are high in the top of a tree and that was for real and done without CGI. It's awesome.

The film was shot in the Northwest (mostly on the Olympic Peninsula and a bit in Portland) and the misty, moisty beauty of the area is beautifully captured.

Finally, the trick to adapting a series is creating a film story that stands on its own, without needing to read the books. I think the parties involved with "Twilight" have done that successfully and the ending of the film left no doubt that sequels are being discussed. For fans of the books, this is good news. What I'm not convinced about is whether anyone who hasn't read the books would particularly care about this movie. It's hardly a waste of 2 hours but with so many other good films out right now, you could probably wait to Netflix it and be ok.

The Czarina gives "Twilight"

out of five koihead.



Blogger Anne opined...

Fern thought it was awful. I didn't see it. For some reason it doesn't interest me.

But now I know the story, thanks for that. I don't have to read it. :)

November 24, 2008 10:31 AM  
Blogger Eric opined...

I especially enjoyed when in the end Spike finally sacrificed himself for buffy and the gang thus closing the hell mouth and restoring his mortal soul. Truely a great ending

Oh wait, Wrong teen vampire story

November 24, 2008 10:54 AM  
Blogger Sling opined...

Mom o' LK is up to book three,and totally digs 'em.
The reviews haven't been all that good in general,but she's anxious to see the movie.

November 24, 2008 11:02 AM  
Blogger LostInColor opined...

I am not one for vampire movies. Thanks for review!

November 24, 2008 11:31 AM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

Was Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt in this movie? No? What? Harry Potter maybe? That's it I am not going.

November 24, 2008 2:40 PM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Anne, The Child would never say it was awful...she was just disappointed that the whole tale wasn't recreated word for word and action for action. (But they are worth the read...maybe next summer...perfect for that time of year).

Spouse, you wrote that as if you are never going to have to watch "Twilight". That's hysterical.

Sling, MOLK knows good vampire lit when she finds it. I gotta think that the vast majority of negative reviews are coming from people who are too sophisticated to take it for what is. Personally, I think it was a perfect matinee sorta film.

Not your typical vampire movie, Lost. But like I said, no need to rush out and see it.

Sage, it also doesn't have any peanut butter.

November 24, 2008 5:12 PM  
Blogger rosemary opined...

I bought the book but couldn't get my teeth into it....sorry but I couldn't resist..

November 25, 2008 4:04 PM  
Blogger sageweb opined...

I finally read the book, on thursday and saturday and then watched the movie last night. I loved the book, but was shocked at the minor things they changed in the movie for no reason. Like Bella going to Seattle for the weekend as an excuse to miss the prom....Why did they change it to her going to Jacksonville? Something so minor with no reason to change was as if the screen writers only read the notes from the book,.,.not the actual book. ...

March 23, 2009 7:29 AM  
Blogger Lorraine opined...

Sage, I'm pretty much convinced that the books, in this case, will always be better than the movies. Simply can't help it because there just isn't time to incorporate everything.

On the other hand, each book is better than the last so enjoy the next 3.

March 23, 2009 9:29 PM  
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