Tuesday, November 25, 2008

(Exhaustive) Movie Revue: Twilight!

As promised, here is my exhaustive review of Twilight: The Movie!

Bella was a normal girl, until she moved to the dreary, tiny town of Forks, Washington. There she meets Edward, a mysterious boy who is actually a vampire. He and his family feed off of animals instead of humans, but temptation is always there...especially when Edward meets Bella. Will he give in to temptation, or fall in love with her instead?

After...seven?...seven (long, LOOONG) months of waiting, T:TM hit theaters on Friday, November 21. I purchased my tickets around noon for the seven PM showing. We arrived at the theater around 6:55, and I was immediately glad we'd already bought our tickets. The line at the concession stand was so long that we decided not to get popcorn (and any time I pass up movie theater popcorn, that means I REALLY don't want to miss anything). We walked into the theater and started looking for two seats together. We heard the fangirls. There was an invisible line dividing Team Edward and Team Jacob, and they were chanting.
"MIKE!" (That was me, partly because Michael Welsh/Mike Newton is awesome and partly because Mike's character is a running joke in the books--he symbolizes everything that is "normal" in Forks).

Then there were the interrupters ("Shut up!" "Stop it!"), who won as soon as the previews started. There were a few complaints that we had to watch any previews at all.

People talked during this movie. A lot. Actually, "screamed" would be more accurate. Like at the beginning of the movie. And when the title screen appeared. Jacob's first scene. Edward's first appearance. The first time Edward spoke. Any time Edward did anything (okay, slight exaggeration there). But after a while, either I tuned them out or they quieted down.

As for the movie itself: I thought that everyone involved did a great job. I knew the basic plot, but they threw in a lot of little scenes that weren't in the book. They also ended up removing quite a few scenes as well. Despite all that, I thought the movie remained true to the spirit of the book. As I mentioned during our "Page to Screen" episode, what bugs me about movies based on books is when they do things that WOULDN'T happen within the world of the books...which actually relates to my feelings on fan fiction: nothing bugs me more than writing characters out of character.

One of my favorite scenes in the movie (which they changed from the book) was when Bella goes to the Cullens' house for the first time and finds them all in the kitchen, trying to cook for Bella. All the characters fit into the picture I'd created in my head...especially Rosalie. I laughed, mostly because I would completely expect her to do what she did in that scene (if you've seen the movie, you'll know what I mean...and I always thought Emmett was "Hulk Smash!").

One general change I noticed from the book to the movie is that the movie focused more on rounding out the human characters and downplayed the vampires--we find out details about Bella's human friends that weren't in the books, but hardly any of the vampires aside from Edward have much screen time. I was disappointed at first, but then I reasoned that the less time we spend with the vampires, the less they have to spend on special effects. For all of its hype, Twilight is still an "indie" (an independent film--be honest, had you ever heard of Summit Entertainment before "Twilight"?) and there's a reason most fantasy movies aren't indies. The Chicago Tribune movie critic gave T:TM 2 1/2 stars because, and I quote, "Edward's hair is the most special effect." I would agree that the special effects aren't as sophisticated as in, say, "Lord of the Rings" or even "Heroes," but Catherine did exceptionally well with what she had to work with.

The omission I was most surprised about was the pivotal "meadow scene" where Edward finally decides that he could not live with himself if he killed Bella. He also shows what happens to Stephenie's vampires in sunlight (they sparkle like diamonds) and he and Bella share their first kiss. To top it off, the scene in the book is based on Stephenie's dream that inspired the entire series. If you ask Twilight fans to name their favorite scene in the first book, they will probably say, "The meadow scene" and a good number of them will also have the exact chapter number and title.

It wasn't really in the movie. It was, sort of, but not really. Edward runs with Bella through the woods and finds a break in the trees so he can show her how he looks in the sun. It actually looks kinda cheesy, and there's the generic "glitter" sound effect (you know what I'm talking about). So maybe it's better that they didn't try to do it exactly as in the book. I could tell that the only reason they had some version of the meadow scene was because the fans would demand it, which was kind of weird.

The acting was solid all around. My favorite characters in the movie were Charlie (I didn't picture him with a John Stossel mustache in the books, but he had some great lines here) and Carlisle (who looked EXACTLY the way I'd pictured him in my head. He's almost as hot as Edward...but I digress...). My favorite character in the books is Alice; I'm going to reserve judgment on Alice-in-the-movie because she didn't get enough screen time. Johnny said he thought Alice was creepy. She's not supposed to be creepy; she's supposed to be slightly insane and manic. I actually know someone who reminds me a lot of Alice, both physically and personality-wise, so I suppose that's how I'll always picture her.

Two more notes: Bella's lullaby is wonderful. Wow. Oh, and I discovered that the best place for the soundtrack is from the Amazon MP3 store ($6.99!). Also, the countdown to New Moon: The Movie (NM:TM) starts NOW! It has officially been approved!! Heck yes. (Not that my opinion will have any weight, but I think Christopher Lloyd should play Aro).

Overall: T:TM earns 4 stars/5

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