Sunday, November 30, 2008

Twilight Movie REVIEW

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:

Maria: Christine:
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.)

EDITED TO ADD: November 30, 2008, 10:22 AM EST, Melodramatic teenager or not, she's sticking with the D.


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  2. That's too bad you guys didn't enjoy it as much as you hoped. For myself, I really like it. I knew going in that there were gonna be people who wouldn't like it. But I just think they could have done a whole lot worse. They could have totally ruined it and used nothing from the book, so I was happy with what they did with it.

    The only thing that really bothered me was the meadow scene. Your right that scene should have been an important part and much longer.


  3. Hi there,
    I kind of felt the same way. You read the books so many times and then you go in there, raw.
    However, I went to see the movie again last night, and this time I was more aware of what was coming and more comfortable. I wasn't holding my breath the whole time waiting for what was coming next.
    The second time, all said (yes, meadow scene was lacking) was much better than the first. I got to know the characters and the story better and it wasn't so bad.
    I know it's a lot to fork out money to go see maybe wait for the DVD. But I really think the 2nd shot was what I needed. Maybe you do too?


  4. *chuckle*

    And this is why I'm glad I've never even been tempted to read the books--let alone fork money for the movie at the theater.

    My daughter liked the first two very much, the third a lot less, and didn't feel any enthusiasm for getting the fourth. So, no pressure there for me to "keep up"

  5. Anna :: You're right. It could have been a whole lot worse. I remember waiting anxiously for the movie version of Blood and Chocolate based on the YA novel by Annette Curtis Klause that I adore and in the end decided not to see it because I read it was completely different--so much so that critics were saying the only thing the book and movie had in common was the title. At least the Twilight movie kept to the story line.

    Melissa :: Hi! :) I think you're probably right in that when I saw it again, I might not be as critical since the rawness has faded. I think I'll wait for it on DVD before I see it again, though. If I find time to go to the movies again this season, I'll try something new... like The Tale of Despereaux-based on the awesome novel by Kate DiCamillo or Coraline- based on another great novel by Neil Gaiman.

    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! :)

    azteclady :: LOL! I understand completely! I'm curious though, if your daughter has or will give in to the hype and pressure to see the Twilight movie. I admit it's a fairly strong pull.

  6. Hi Christine:

    Well written review. The comparison between your daughter's opinion of the books and movie and yours is excellent!

    I haven't read "Twilight" or seen the movie. I am always cautious when the hype surpasses reason with respect to a book or movie. I actually blogged about it myself a while back.

    That being said, I may well fork out the $ to see what all the fuss is about having read some of your opinions. I will read the book after seeing the movie, from past experience I have found that is much easier on the disappointment metre. lol

    As an aside, I have Stephanie Meyer's "The Host", in all it's hard cover glory sitting here and have tried read it 3 times and been unable to get past chapter 3, so, oh dear.....

    Thank you so much Christine. Your posts are always delightful!


  7. I love Blood and Chocolate too so.. I was so disgusted with what they did to it. I was afraid that is what was gonna happen with Twilight.

    I can't imagine what Annette Curtis Klause thought when she seen the film.

  8. Thank you Christine (and Maria).

    Hmmm. I, like azteclady, haven't read the books. I have been told to read the books first, but I do know it is sometimes easier to see the movie as it is never a faithful adaptation. (Last of the Mohicans is a classic example.)

    Anyway, it will be a while before I read the books as I think I'm 550th on the library hold list :)

  9. You forgot to mention about Edward's lovely bushy eyebrows that I could not stop looking at!
    I have to bad for James! Ugh. But the ballet school scene was great and intense, like right out of the book.

  10. Awww that sucks that you didn't enjoy the movie as much as I did. I agree with Anna that it could have been a lot worst but I actually really enjoyed the movie. The second time I went to see it, I loved it more.

    I thought that Rob P was a great Edward, I think he's a cutie patootie but I understand that not everyone is going to be happy with the casting but for me it worked.

    I thought a lot of the scenes were pretty corny but not enough to ruin the entire movie for me but then again, I'm easily entertained so that could be it!

  11. It's been interesting reading the different reviews, based on people's expectations. I think I had it easier because I hadn't read the books first, and still went in with low expectations, and I enjoyed it. Why? Because I wasn't expecting Edward to look a certain way or this scene to be exactly the way I envision.

    Then I read the book and really loved it. I think it portrayed Edward as much more charming, and Bella as much more level-headed and intelligent. There was more humor, more romance, some obsessiveness but not the scary kind. I ended up seeing the movie a 2nd time and had to roll my eyes because it was less mature than the book, and it made me a little sad, but still I enjoyed myself watching it again.

    And the soundtrack, I just loved it so much I had to get the CD. Bella's Lullaby and some of the other songs just really moved me and radiated teenaged angst. So me, 25 years ago *g*

  12. Oh hilarious! Your sullen teen. Well, I just have to read the book. I forgot this was your gateway book. How cute that you guys went on opening night!!

  13. Ah, and this is why I have such a hard time seeing movies based on books I've read. I still want to see it but I'll probably wait.

  14. So, I wasn't planning on seeing the movie--but now I'm *really* not gonna see it. At least not until it's out on DVD or cable. (Truth be told, I've been completely down on the series since the Breaking Dawn debacle).

    And Maria gives it a D? Ouch! Well, at least you still have the books to go back and purge the badness of the movie out with :)

    Oh--and I agree that the actor for James is way hotter than the dude playing Edward ;)

  15. Rowena :: I think you and Anna are right. The movie adaptation could have been much, much worse than it was. I'm usually easily entertained as well... and forgiving... but guess I just had high standards when it came to this particular story. Oh well. :)

    Stacy :: Interesting. A movie then book Twilighter. I like your observations. I think they match up to mine pretty well... but mine are a bit extreme both ways. LOL

    I've had the Twilight playlists that Meyer has had listed on her website on my iPod since October 2006. I love her song choices. That's actually how I got so into Coldplay. :)

    CJ :: We were very cute on opening night. We saw a ton of her peers there, and I really tried to keep a low, mellow profile for her so as to not embarrass her. I guess it wasn't so bad because I had pimped the book to her friends! So they already think I'm cool. :)

    Tracy :: I know exactly what you mean. There are two other films coming out this season based on YA books I've read and loved. I'm nervous....

    Thea :: I almost felt compelled to reread Twilight right away... but no time!

    Go see Coraline instead. Gosh, even High School Musical 3 was better than Twilight for crying out loud!

  16. Twilight the Book...AWESOME!!!

    Twilight the movie...Yack!! *sticks finger in mouth*

    I was not happy with what I had seen. For vampire's sake...The MEADOW scene was everything in that book and it totally sucked in the movie. WTF!!! what was up with making it seem as if it was right behind the school? and that he decided to follow her there?? Field trip, what field trip?? That was not needed at all. I did not feel that connection between them...that AHHHHHH!!! moment that just melts my butter.

    The only thing that came close was the "prom" scene. I think the music in that moment was key. The musical score and music choices were key in this film and the baseball scene...rockin' baby.

    I just wonder how they will try to establish a better relationship between Edward and Bella for that is what makes him leaving in NEW MOON so heartbreaking. I will watch it regardless, but this time I am not going in with any expectations so that I will not be dissappointed as I was with Twilight.

    C- for the music choices and some good scenes.

  17. seems likely that they will come out with a Twilight sequel pretty soon, there's a crazy lot of ticket sales at stake

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