Breaking Twilight

Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from the movie Twilight
Bella Swan and Edward Cullen from the movie Twilight

So here’s the bloody, honest truth. I loved Stephenie Meyer’s novel, Twilight. I read it when it came out in 2005 because I heard that Stephenie was from my home state of Arizona, and she set the story in Forks, Washington after the main character, Bella Swan, leaves Phoenix, AZ. I have gone on to read all of the books, and am almost finally finished with the final book, Breaking Dawn.

So it is with all the love in my heart that I tell you now, dear reader, if you haven’t read Twilight, do not bother watching the movie. Period. This is not because I think the movie is not good nor worth watching. I suppose if you are a teenage girl, you would probably like the movie. But then again, let’s be honest, if you are a teenage girl, you’ve probably read the book. Having said that, if you have read the book, you may not be entirely thrilled with the movie.

Personally, I liked it, and I think the movie does a good job of telling the core story. But I did not love this movie, and I so desperately wanted to. In my humble opinion, the movie falls short in many respects and fills any holes in with a glamour that leaves me wanting. It is these holes that those who have never read the book will fall into and may not be willing or able to crawl out of.

“Suspension of disbelief” doesn’t cover it. I’ve talked with folks who have not read the books and they can forgive a lot. Some liked that the Meyerverse vamps are unique, but some hated them saying this wasn’t really a vampire movie. Speaking as someone who likes the “Cold Ones” version of vampires, I have to point out that every author plays with the mythos when they write their bloodsuckers. If you don’t want to see “glitterati” take on a new meaning, walk away now.

“Translation from the book to the movie” doesn’t cover it. Every movie takes what it can from the source material. Not everything will fit into the desired length. (Twilight clocks in at two hours.) I bought the 2-disc DVD set (Borders Exclusive actually) specifically to see what fell onto the cutting room floor. Precious little it seems, and some cut scenes were so laughable that I praise Catherine Hardwicke’s decision (or whomever it might have been) to cut them out.

I can’t fault the director or the screenplay writer. I can complain that the potential for so much more was wasted. Really the only scene from the movie that really nailed what I imagined from the book was the “baseball scene”. But even there, I had to explain to those “non-readers” that I saw the movie with in the theater why the Cullens only play baseball during thunderstorms. I mean, it should have been obvious, and this is why I have to smack the movie around.

As for the actors, I believed Kristen Stewart was Bella. I thought Billy Burke was spot-on-perfect as Charlie Swan. I did not believe Rob Pattinson was Edward. As a matter of fact, all of the male Cullens seemed miscast to me. All of the female Cullens seemed to work well with my mental picture, especially Ashley Greene as Alice. The one actor I was most impressed by was Taylor Lautner who played Jacob Black, even though he was barely in the movie. (He’s relegated to Mr. Exposition, really.) I am worried about how he’s going to do in New Moon, where his presence literally transforms in the sequel.

I want to primarily blame the movie studio and the producers for rushing this movie to the screen. They even jumped at the chance to release the movie early on November 21, 2008 because Harry Potter pushed their release to 2009. The movie ends up as a Disney-whitewashed romantic-comedy instead of a sweeping teen romance. Maybe that’s my biggest complaint: Bella and Edward fall in love too fast. Call me a sentimental romantic fool, but two hours is not nearly enough time to see their love develop.

As for the DVD specifically, I do recommend listening to the commentary track. Catherine Hardwicke is joined by Rob and Kristen, as they joke about all the good and bad things in this movie. That’s right kids, they make fun of it, too. You do get to hear some behind the scenes stuff that makes it worth buying the DVD.

To say that I am conflicted is an understatement. I mean, yes I’m here telling you that I liked the movie, that I can’t tell you why I liked it, and I’m practically defending it, but I swear, you will likely regret it if you dare give it a chance. Read the book first and then if you like what you read, read the other books in the series. Then, when you are invested in the characters, their lives, and their trials, then maybe you can give Hollywood your hard earned cash. However, buy (or rent) just the single disc DVD. There’s nothing special on the second disc. Srsly. Extra DVD FAIL.

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