I promised my wife that I would take her to see Twilight on opening night. It’s a sacrifice, I know, putting myself through the pain and torture of 200 screaming high school chicklets who want to become vampires and spend their lives with Stephanie Meyers’ fantasy “heartthrob,” Edward Cullen. But I must confess, I read all four books…and they’re really good! They’re not the most intellectually stimulating books, but the story is pretty interesting and well written. I wasn’t not looking forward to seeing the movie, which is close as I’m going to get to admitting I was looking forward to seeing it.
My expectations were low, for four reasons. First, I had the characters and settings already pictured in my head, and I knew no matter how much I was committed to accepting Catherine Hardwicke’s interpretation of the book, it just wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t match up with the images in my mind. Second, movies based on books like this are rarely as entertaining. Third, the story doesn’t lend itself very well to cinema; the settings are dull, the characters are mostly one-dimensional - it works in writing, but I didn’t expect much on-screen. Finally, this was one hell of a hyped movie. The expectations set by the production houses were very high, a recipe for failure.
I think Amy was expecting more than me. To say she hated it would be a bit strong, but she was definitely underwhelmed. I think I did myself a favor by not expecting much, because while it’s not a great movie by any stretch of the imagination, I did find myself entertained.
First, the highlights. The movie actually looked the way I thought it would in my head! The town looked how I expected. Charlie’s house looked close to what I pictured, though I thought it would be a little darker - more wooden. The reservation and beach were just what I had in mind. Ditto for the school and Cullens’ house. The filmography was generally pretty good. The movie score was fitting and set the mood for the movie well. There were a lot of good elements - a good base for a good movie.
The casting had high points and low points for me. I wasn’t a fan of Kristen Stewart as Bella, but months ago I had it in my head that Kat Dennings would be perfect in the role. So I was biased. Robert Pattinson as Edward? No thank you. Billy Burke was the perfect Charlie. Without throwing around actors’ names, Emmet, Alice, and the whole crew of Bella’s school friends were all very well cast (except for Eric - holy crap, someone needs to beat that kid with the acting stick). Bella’s friends gave me that slightly nauseous revulsion feeling which typically hits me when a group of clueless kids walks by too close - good casting indeed! Rosalie as the “impossibly beautiful blond?” Wow - that was a miss! And Carlisle looked like a grown-up version of Eddie Munster. Jasper’s screentime was mercifully short. Like I said, the casting was a mixed bag.
The movie fell apart with the acting and special effects. Too much of the acting was just too piss-poor to make a positive impression on the audience. The vampire speed-running was nothing less than ridiculous - the theater crowd got in more than a few laughs at the expense of Twilight’s effects. The acting didn’t completely ruin the movie only because the movie followed the book pretty well, and the story itself was good enough to pull it through.
Overall, I’ve seen better, but I was sort of entertained. I know a good movie when I see it, and this was not a good movie. We’ll see the sequel, I’m sure. I would be perfectly happy if they recast half the movie with actual actors the next time around.
General Entertainment Value: ***
Overall Score: **½