Friday, November 28, 2008

"I dream about being with you forever. " REVIEW

Twilight-Catherine Hardwicke-2008


Not to be confused with the 1998 Paul Newman film, Twilight, directed by Catherine Hardwicke, is the new it thing among teens. A young adult novel, written by Stephanie Meyer, adapted for the screen, is not unlike another book turned film that had tweens and teens in a frenzy. I am recalling the seven part saga that is known as the Harry Potter series. Now about to release it's sixth film, Harry Potter is always among the highest grossing films of the year. The comparison is apt, but does it really seem fair? Is the recent Twilight frenzy just a new ploy to get the kids filling the seats or is there a level of depth, as I would argue that the Harry Potter series has, hidden within this myriad of romance, love and, of course, vampires.

Twilight follows Bella(Kristen Stewart) as she moves in with her father in a Washington town called Fords, while her mother and step father are on the road with his minor league baseball team. She attends the local high school where she meets a group of friends and is quickly accepted as part of their clique. Amongst this clique we get a slew of fun, quirky characters. The one that stuck out to me was Anna Kendrick, playing Jessica Stanley. Kendrick has impeccable comic timing, as well as an innate sense of how the character would react under any circumstances. She really is such a minor character, but I left the theatre thinking about her performance(which was reminiscent of the great Kristen Wiig of SNL fame).

Anyways, we were just getting to the juicy part. All of the sudden, one day, Bella sees this totally HAWT guy named Edward Cullen(a heavily made up Rob Pattinson) and is like totally unable to keep her eyes off of him. After initially being put off, they become friends and then realize their deep connection, until, she finds out his dark secret. He's a V-A-M-P-I-R-E. Wouldn't you know it, all the good ones are either taken, gay, or immortal, mythological, blood sucking extortioners who are unable(or in this case unwilling, I guess) to be seen in the sun.

So Bella and Edward fall in love and so on and so on...

This is what the kids are eating up these days? This is an obvious new take on the Romeo and Juliet story. Which in itself has been played out over thousands of times in all different types of settings. I enjoy the idea, and maybe the book is better, but the film is filled with problems, that I'm not sure I would care to see fixed.

After the initial opening, we are thrust into this new world with Bella, who we get to know from her voice over. I like the way in which we see everything through Bella's eyes. We learn new things as she does. Rarely, if ever, is there a time that we know something she doesn't or vice versa(besides that fact that we already know Edward is a vampire). The film takes it's time setting things up, but after the first act decides that Bella has realized that Edward is a vampire. This seems a little ludicrous to me, although the clues are obvious I guess. But really, vampire? How many times have a number of odd things happened to you with another person and it crossed your mind that they are possibly of another species.

Herein lies the films major problem, why are there vampires? Really...I'm curious...Is it at all relevant to what's going on between the characters? There can be a connection made that, in Edwards case, his blood lust is a metaphor for his hormones raging for Bella. I believe the case for this is strong, and interesting. We are given a scene where Edward and Bella begin getting physical but Edward jumps back, and comments on how he might give in to the temptation. Of course, in the film, he is talking about sucking her blood, which is amazingly more appropriate for families to sit and watch together than sex is on the big screen, but that's another thing altogether. The sweetness comes from what happens next. Edward and Bella spend the night together talking, laughing and cuddling. It's a little cheesy, but I was heartwarmed by the idea that love can grow and become fruitful without the sex. It's an interesting thought nonetheless.

Where this theory leaves us though is asking why are there other vampires then? are they too wrestling with hormonic passion? Not really. It would have been interesting to see it play out that they all have their vices that their lust for blood becomes a metaphor of. No examples come to mind, but it could have become about obsession and where our lusts take us(for power, money, sex, etc.). The problem with this, is that that also lives within another film altogether. This is a love story. While a lot of the focus is reliant on that, it seems they detract from it often to show some "cool" vampire doings, like playing baseball? Uh, while it is definitely an original idea to see vampires play America's favorite past time, where is the relevance?

Overall the film is a total bore. It is a film that most Hollywood producers foam at the mouth for screaming, "It has romance, action, and laughs(albeit these are a little sparse)!" You would think this could be a film that would sell to young girls(romance) young guys (action) and anyone else that are interested in romantic action or action filled romance(What most films try to do actually). Twilight chugs along with absolutely no tension, no suspense and worst of all, no heart.

Hardwicke really fails at everything here. Her direction seems to be totally complacent and without and kind of inspiration. She seems to have just set up cameras and asked the characters to act out the book. Never was there a time where I forgot I was in a movie theatre. Never was there a time where I feared for a characters safety. Never was there a sense of danger or excitement. Am I too old for this? Is it just that I am not the target audience? I feel that critics are being disingenuous to young girls when saying, "Well, it's a bunch of crap, but young girls will eat it up". Why do we not say the same thing when Transporter 3 is released? "Well it's a load of crap, but the young boys will all go crazy for it". Yes, this film does have a few touching moments, but the directing was a huge let down, even with material that isn't that groundbreaking to begin with.

This film will make loads of money though, as will the rest of the franchise. I'm just hoping it ages, like the Harry Potter series has, and gets better as the series goes along(this is not to say that each Potter film has been subsequently better). If not, and the money still roles in, then we blame it on the 14 year old girls.


FilmDr said...

Nice review, but I think you were a bit harsh on "Twilight." I think the whole idea of vampires condescending to mere mortals is kind of funny.

Dead Pan said...

it is kind of funny, but is that all there is?

Marcy said...

You ask an interesting question: Why are there vampires in the Twilight universe? Yeah, I'd like to know too, but that's beside the point. We simply have to accept the fact that vampires just exist, like wizards do in the Harry Potter universe.

But what I'd like to know is: Why does Edward still have raging hormones? I mean, isn't he over 100 years old? If he doesn't grow physically, he still has to grow mentally, right?

I think it's a little unfair to say Twilight has no heart. I think there is plenty of heart and good intentions--it just didn't bleed through.

But all in all, good review, Shawn. I would have said more if I didn't have to save criticism for my own review.

Dead Pan said...

Marcy---I agree, the question is a little irrelevant I guess, but the difference is, the vampire plotline is really not what the film is about, while in Harry Potter I would say that it is about the wizardry and sorcery, ya know?

Also, I do agree that Twilight the story has heart. But in film form it is completely and utterly heartless.

I don't know about Edward growing or anything. This is why I find the film messy. Not that that is an important thing to really ponder, but I guess I was left asking stupid questions because it's all I could do if I actually wanted to think about this movie, since I really wasn't entertained by it.

darkcitydame4e said...

Hi! D.P.,
What a really nice review and by the way, very interesting questions that you ask us...the readers of your review.I think that your questions let your readers know that you just didn't sit through the film and then left the theatre,
but while watching the film you analyze the film.(Not to deeply though, but enough to point out the "negative" and "positive" aspects about the film.)

darkcitydame ;-)

Dead Pan said...

Dark City---Thanks, that's exactly what I hope to convey with my reviews.