Read my piece 15 good things from the twilight saga 🙂
The end of 2008 saw the dawn of half a decade of (self-proclaimed) worldwide phenomenon, which ended up in major film critic’s list of one of the most cringe-worthy films, twilight saga. Catherine Hardwicke, the talented director who brought cult film thirteen (2003) on screen, launched the billion-dollar series based on Stephenie Meyer’s bestsellers. Twilight wouldn’t have received this much attention in terms of popularity if it wasn’t for the films as the books were almost unknown to the worldwide audience including the lead cast members. Watch their interview.
Personally, I don’t like romantic films and am more inclined to action and thrillers. While the news related to this film’s release came into the rounds, I threw some time into researching and read somewhere that twilight is also a thriller which involved the love between a human and vampire. I thought “ok, I will give it a shot”. So I read the books first and then waited for the film’s release. Twilight series is probably the only ones where the movies are any day better than the books due to the pacing and additional plot developments. The first film “Twilight” caught my attention because of the leads; Kristen Stewart an actress whom I admired in movies like panic room (2002) and Zathura (2005) and Robert Pattinson, who played Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of fire (2005) where he won (girls) hearts with his looks and sex appeal; the category which didn’t give a damn about the acting quality. The curiosity and the popularity drew me to this film. First of all, the beginning is tremendous where a deer is being stalked and hunted by a human figure followed by (after Bella’s not-that-interesting narration) the glittering logo presentation.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) moves to Forks to live with her father Charlie (Billy Burke). Unlike her home in Arizona, Forks is always cloudy and rainy, making her visibly depressed. Bella joins the school where she meets mysterious and handsome Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) who is initially repulsive of her. Later on, they become cordial and their *awkward* friendship turn into romance.
That is the premise of this movie. Now I have to confess before narrating anything more, on why I gave this movie 3/5 when compared to many other seemingly better films. It is because at one point during my late teens, I thought this was an enjoyable film and liked it; until the sequels came and destroyed every single good thing I noticed. Catherine Hardwicke’s direction is pretty vivid as she established Bella’s life with apt visuals. She introduces a peek into the teenage life at school in the beginning and the scene where Bella meets Edward’s family for the first time is quite entertaining to witness. That being said, the movie has more flaws than charms; but with the available good aspects, twilight managed to be noteworthy thanks to Hardwicke’s vision. I genuinely believe that the sequels would have been a lot better if Hardwicke was on board, especially in terms of performance enhancement, as that is the primary achievement of this movie. The major failure is that the protagonist Bella Swan is so boring and complicated that we will end up hating her than identifying with her.
Ok, it doesn’t matter if Bella is not happy with her life in Forks and if she couldn’t get along well enough with her father and if she is depressed; Kristen’s performance makes almost every situation with her in it awkward. So perplexing that we rather look at the environment than her. The book described Bella as more emotional in terms of speech and gestures. We could experience her fear, her lack of interest and the situations when she is pissed off. In the movie, Kristen underacts with low-toned voice, too much blinking, head shaking, gasps, exaggerated breathing and lack of expressions. Her eyes have no life whatsoever and the only moments where we see a speck of emotion is for about 5 seconds when James says “you brought a snack” and the two groups snarl at each other. Bella gives a startled look there. In most of her scenes, her co-stars performed better. While Hardwicke created a realistic environment, the fact that Bella Swan is too boring to be tolerated and it is a major failure from her and Stewart. Maybe it is bad writing, maybe it is what Ms Meyer visualized; this performance affected Ms Stewart’s career. Unlike Bella Swan, Edward is more interesting.
Edward Cullen is not the guy every woman dreams of, except for his looks. He has his flaws and does things which cannot be accepted in terms of morality. Like, watching Bella when she is asleep. This is done by most heroes during their process of wooing the woman they love, therefore it should not be accepted from a hero in a blockbuster series admired and worshiped by millions. Another flaw is his lack of personality, just as much I agree with the critics judging by Pattinson’s performance in New moon-Breaking dawn part 2, this argument cannot be brought in this movie. Pattinson delivered the best performance in this movie apart from Billy Burke and Peter Fascinelli, who had less screen time. He does look stressed at times and delivers most dialogues during intense scenes with effort, as if he is trying to lift a large boulder. But he managed to keep up a steadfast portrayal overall with apt mannerisms and lively gestures. I liked his acting in the scene where he entered the cafeteria where he listens to Jessica’s comment about him and when Bella is staring. We could feel his frustration when he realizes that Bella is immune to his mind-reading. And, in the restaurant, where he tells Jessica and Angela that he wants to buy Bella dinner. His boyishness and expressions as per the circumstances makes this character likable, giving scope for improvement and a better future for Pattinson as an actor (which is exactly what I thought of while watching HP: goblet of fire). The tragedy is that his acting quality deteriorated in the sequels owing to the fact that he hated the series in real life.
Billy Burke is considered as the best actor from the series and has his moments of hilarity.
Overall casting is adequate enough, notably Anna Kendrick’s lively presence as Jessica Stanley and Nikki Reed as Rosalie. Kendrick delivered effortless performance and the scene where she talks about the Cullens is entertaining.
Reed has an expressive face and we could see her fury and frustration whenever she comes near Bella. She is the one person with more layer to her personality instead of being all plastic. There was scope for better development for Edward’s family members, especially Alice. The story related to her days in asylum and eventual rescue is mentioned in the book, briefly, it could have given sparks and compensated time which was wasted on Kristen Stewart’s breathes and stares. Elizabeth Reaser looked adorable and has a gentle smile, making her an apt choice as per Meyer’s description. Peter Fascinelli is kind-looking and intriguing, Rathbone and Lutz were only average in their respective roles.
The scene where Bella finds about Edward’s identity is better depicted in the movie although the built-up of their romance is better in the book. The cinematography looked good to have the appeal, however, the usage of too many close-ups are irritating, mainly because of Stewart’s stone-faced acting. The visuals effects were done proficiently. The car stopping is shot well as it is an unexpected phenomenon (unless you have already read the book) and the combination of cinematography and CGI worked in the scene where Edward and Bella are sitting on top of a tree. The blue tone worked to have the cool feel in Forks as it is always raining and cold there, but it affected the visuals in terms of seeing the color of the vampire’s eyes; It was difficult to make out if it is crimson red or golden brown. What truly makes this movie is the spectacular scores composed by Carter Burwell. He was able to bring coolness, creepiness, the slick feel and of course, the romantic tone. I remember watching this movie several times just to listen to the music. Burwell’s imagination redeemed the quality of this movie if it is flawed in any way.
Speaking of the flaws; the major disadvantage is the lack of chemistry between Pattinson and Stewart. It is rather harsh to say that as they were a real life couple. Bella lacked a strong personality and she is boringly emotionless, atleast Stewart’s acting is. Most of their conversations are either awkward or artificial; like the scene where they confess their feelings. Pattinson’s acting is better while Stewart could barely raise her tone and change her facial muscles. Then the conversation where Edward tells her everything seemed more like an interview; the way she asked questions for eg:. The one flaw one can’t help but notice is the “stalking”. Edward used to watch Bella sleep as it fascinates him. That’s not romantic dear girls, that’s stalking. You can defend it all you want, but a typical girl in that position will probably throw a lamp at that guy’s face. But, I disagree with the arguments where they’re not happy with the vegetarian vampires. It is a good concept, vampires who chose to keep their distance from the general population. It is like saying, there is something good in every dark force and it is one of the major reasons why I liked this movie.
Ok. All these problems within the film’s structure can be tolerated. What cannot be tolerated, no matter what romantic mumbo jumbos are being thrown at the audience, is…
Vampire sparkling. Why did Ms Meyer describe them as vampires instead of fairies? It is a major concept, the creatures who do not step outside during daytime and they are nightmares. Vampires burn to a cinder when exposed to the sunlight. I have no idea how many times I slammed my head against the wall when this was shown on screen; I swear even Dracula will stay inside the coffin for the rest of his life. While reading the book, I thought “no way, filmmakers can’t be that stupid”. But nope. I wanted to mercilessly reduce the rating for this movie after witnessing this followed by squeals from fans, yelling how cute he looked. If vampires sparkle then why not make them eat pine-corns or oak leaves instead of blood? This is the major low point about this movie, it is written all over Pattinson’s face that he himself is feeling solemn over the idea.
The pacing is too high by the end of the movie as it unbelievably transcends into a chase, fight, then prom. Too fast to record in one’s brains. Overall, twilight is entertaining to watch thanks to Hardwicke’s direction although the script and dialogue sequences can’t guarantee the same. Then again, I would watch it in order to listen to Burwell’s scores and the songs.
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