I started out hopeful, as the first line of the movie is Bella in voice over, and it's the same as the opening line of the book. I thought, "Well, that's promising!", and really, they did do a pretty good job of sticking to the book, much better than the last few Harry Potters, for instance. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to make Twilight a good movie, or even a good adaptation.
I'm not really sure who to blame it all on. The screenwriter? The director? The actors? I'm pretty sure it was a combination of all three. The dialogue was, at times, painful to listen to, which is the screenwriter (and Stephenie Meyer, as some dialogue was pulled right from the book). The movie was dizzying and vertigo inducing, with a ridiculous number of 360 degree shots, which is the director's fault. Then there was the acting...oh the acting!
I'll start with the bad and work my way to the good. I was quite surprised in the end, as I had fully expected to love Kristin Stewart as Bella and hate Robert Pattinson as Edward and ended up with quite the opposite. I'm sure, Bella must have been a difficult character to play. So much of the book is about what is happening in her head, and even with voice overs (and there were a lot of those) it's difficult to portray thoughts. In the end, I think Stewart over thought it and what ended up on screen was stunted and awkward, and not awkward in the way I imagine Bella to be. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only problem with Stewart's portrayal. It was impossible to identify with movie Bella in anyway, she seemed more inhuman than any of the vampires in some ways. Book Bella may not be a "regular" teenager, but she is definitely human, with her clumsiness and her insecurities. Movie Bella fell down once, (ONCE!) and it was because she slipped on ice! Also, while Stewart was probably trying to seem insecure with all her weird pauses and fidgeting, it just came across as annoying. The panic moment (pretty much the only time she really showed any emotion) at the end when Edward mentions the idea of them not seeing each other, seemed to come out of nowhere. It was like watching a robot who'd watched humans experience emotions attempting to imitate them without ever having experienced them. (On the plus side, if she does New Moon, this could be handy!)
Robert Pattinson, was a big surprise as well, but this time a pleasant one! He was surprisingly good at bringing out the human side of Edward, particularly when Edward was feeling jocular or jerky. The vampire side, was less well defined and the moments of angst simply didn't play. Part of me thinks, those might have gone better with a different costar (maybe one he had some chemistry with) and a different director, as it was obvious that the angst was what the director really cared about.
Most of the other actors were decent. I thought Charlie was great and the other kids in the high school were very good at being in high school. The girl who played Jessica was particularly good. The Cullen family was a bit hit and miss, I liked Emmet and Jasper, but Alice and Rosalie didn't fit quite right. And Carlisle's makeup job was awful! Esme looked a little too much like a mom. Victoria was stunning and what a vampire chick should be and James and Laurent were also good. I would totally watch a movie that focused on them.
Finally, I want to briefly discuss the movie in relation to the book. I actually think they did a decent job of sticking to the book. They added some stuff (a field trip) and took out some (blood typing day) but the remained pretty faithful to the story. The only glaring problem I had with it, (and the others I saw the movie agreed with me on this) came at the end, when Carlisle has to tell Edward to do something that Edward should have done himself. I won't go into more detail, in an effort to avoid spoilers, but if you've read the book, you'll know it when you see it.
In the end, I think I would recommend that people wait for the DVD on this one unless you are a die-hard fan. It's worth a watch, as it could be a catalyst for some interesting discussion, but isn't worth the high price of admission. In fact, with all those vertigo inducing 360 shots, it'll probably be better on the small screen!
- I'm human, so I've got some issues, but all things considered I guess I'm reasonably normal. My parents are still married. My best friends are my sisters...okay, so I'm normal for the 1850's whatever. I'm opinionated and nerdy. I'm walking the line between tweener-style pop culture love (witness my ever-burning New Kids love and inexplicable Twilight obsession) and elitist culture snob (I can't seem to get enough 19th century British Lit and historical biographies) but, after 30 years, I'm finally learning not to give a crap what anyone else thinks about me. Oh, and those are my feet in the picture. The socks were made by a friend.