Many of you know that I'm a big fan of Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series and that it was actually my gateway novel to being a full fledged romance reader back in September 2006. You can actually read about how Twilight turned me on to reading romance at the following link: How I became a Romance Addict, which is actually one of my very first posts on this blog. :)
In the summer of 2007, my oldest daughter read Twilight and New Moon and became an equally big fan of the series and we waited on pins and needles for Eclipse that summer and then we spent a year discussing the books, debating Team Edward vs. Team Jacob, listening to Meyer's playlists for her novels, and speculating on the future of the series for over a year, when we read the final series installment, Breaking Dawn in August 2008. You can read our chat review of Breaking Dawn at Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer: A Mom & Daughter Chat.
When we learned that Twilight was going to be brought to the big screen, we had some mixed feelings. Our first response was excitement, but was then soon followed by extreme reservations. Like who in the world could possibly pull off playing the role of Edward? He's beyond beautiful and has an irresistible allure about him. It's not something any actor could really pull off, you know? It's one of those things that you just know, feel and sense when you're reading the book, but would be so difficult to pull off on film. Despite these reservations, we still knew we'd end up in the theaters on opening weekend. Turns out we went on opening night.
After months of over the top buzz and hype on the Twilight movie, I went to the theater to see the film with my thirteen year old daughter and one of her friends last Friday, November 21, 2008 and all three of us walked away from the theater pretty disappointed. I tried to go into the theater with an open mind, knowing I was going to like the book so much better than the movie, but was still really disappointed with the lack of depth in character and plot compared to the novel. My daughter felt similarly, as was evidenced by her grabbing and tugging at my arm, saying, "What? What are they doing? He doesn't say that! She doesn't do that! Wha! What? They're ruining it! How can they do that?" And this was all in the first fifteen, twenty minutes. I even had to "Shhhh" her!
Perhaps because I've read and reread Twilight more than once and the essence of the written story has penetrated too deeply into my mind that I can't help but be critical of the portrayal of the story on the big screen. The setting was great of course, and casting was very good for the most part. Cam Gigandet did a great job as the villain James, and Ashley Greene who played Alice Cullen was another great casting. She was just how I envisioned. Who didn't work in my opinion? Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen. I know that the fictional character makes some tough shoes to fill, but I don't think Robert Pattinson pulled off Edward Cullen at all. First of all, he didn't have the right look, but I could have gotten over that if he didn't always look so angry and brooding. He didn't capture the attention of the humans with his good looks, voice and charisma they way Edward Cullen would have. I thought that Pattinson's acting was sub par. Most of his lines seemed cold and unnatural. Not the least bit alluring.
Then there is Kristin Stewart playing Bella Swan. I think Stewart did well capturing Bella's character, but thought she went a bit overboard with the sad and confused emotions. Was Bella really that depressing in the book? I didn't think so. In the novel, we at least get inside Bella's head a bit more since it is written in her POV, so we see more of her upbeat side and sense of humor. I didn't like how she was so blah--do I dare say emo?-- throughout the film. Part of this could also be a result lacking dialogue and poor pacing in the movie.
Too many scenes and dialogue exchanges were not in the movie that would have better captured the tone of the novel. I know that it's impossible to include every sentence and every little scene in the movie, but so much was cut out that the pacing of the movie felt very choppy to me. I kept waiting for a scene between Bella and Edward that would capture the chemistry and passion between them, and it never happened. I never saw their relationship develop nor did I ever feel that strong connection between them like I did in the book.
What scenes did work?
+The parking lot scene when Edward saves Bella from Eric's van.
+When Bella meets the Cullens.
+The baseball scene.
+When Edward saves Bella from the thugs in Port Angeles.
+When Bella confronts James in the ballet studio in Pheonix.
What important scenes were missing?
+Any scene not mentioned above, because it was done completely wrong.
+The blood typing science lab. The movie needed the humor of this scene.
+The meadow scene! They totally completely botched that scene in the movie. I don't know how Meyer let them do that! It was the scene on which she bases the entire beginning and ending of the story around. The shame!
+All the other great scenes in the book that had all those great lines that never got spoken in the movie.
Simply for frame of reference, here is a summary of my and my daughter's grades for each book in the Twilight Saga as well as the Twilight movie:
Twilight A+ Twilight A+
New Moon A New Moon A
Eclipse A Eclipse B
Breaking Dawn B Breaking Dawn C+
Twilight movie D (ouch!) Twilight movie C-
(That is the grade Maria gave me when I asked her tonight, although I'm thinking it was a melodramatic teenager response. I'll ask her again in the morning for a serious answer and see what she says and report back.)