In an effort to be pop-culture relevant, the BabbleOn crew spent the last two days immersing in the vampire, teen angst phenomenon of Twilight. Realizing that we were limited in our criticism of both movies (or books), it was time to expose ourselves- no matter how painful it would be. So after embracing my inner teen, I will proceed with first Twilight then with the second movie Twilight Sage New Moon to follow.
If you are one of the dozen or so irrelevant souls on the planet that haven’t heard of the Twilight phenomenon, first let me say that you are probably one of the fortunate few. But second, let me give you a brief synopsis of this first movie.
Lonely, ordinary 17 year old Bella moves to a small town and meets dark, brooding, and enigmatic Edward. After discovering his secret that he is a vampire, they fall in forbidden love and stare into each others eyes till the credits roll. That’s pretty much it.
As sarcastically, subjective as I sound, I really did attempt to go into this with an open mind. None of us read the books so we have to judge these solely on what’s presented on-screen. Like any adaptation, I assume it falls short so I tired to compensate while judging this with as much grace as possible. With that said, I thought this first Twilight movie was atrocious. As a concept I understand the appeal, in fact I recognize the real brilliance of the story in light of its target audience. However, on a technical and screenplay level it failed abysmally. The problem is that while swimming in the mire of uber-emo, teen mopy world, the basics of good filmmaking are neglected. The acting and dialogue was clumsy mumbling at best. The drawn out emotional moments between Bella and Edward are handled with such a heavy hand that you forget why they are in love. In fact, this movie seems to be less about what true love is and more about being in love with love. The director, Catherine Hardwicke, replaces genuine chemistry between actors with gothic, flirty eye games between Bella and Edward. Most of the movie really felt like an underworld version of 90210 with a heaping scoop of ’emo’ generously poured all over it.
With a blue, drab filter, Hardwicke gives Twilight a distinct look, although not very original. Visually, she also mistakes excessive slow motion for artistic style which gets old pretty quickly. I’m not sure if it’s a casting or art direction issue but Edward’s family of vampires just look silly with their caked on makeup and cat-like eyes. And for a supposedly super sexy species they just looked like a circus clown freaks. The ‘TV’ quality of special effects hurt the ‘super-fast’ action scenes and the ‘wire-fu’ work across the tree top was laughable.
There is a potentially amazing movie buried under all this teen drama, emotion and frustration. However, Kristen Stewart’s Bella is such a black-hole of self absorbtion, that it is difficult to see anything beyond it. Robert Pattinson’s Edward stares are more looking inward, celebrating his own handsomeness than his love for Bella. I did not enjoy this movie. Not so much because of the Twilight madness or even the teen-centric themes, but because it is a poorly made movie. The CW could have pumped this one out which means it lacked a cinematic presence needed to for me to be emotionally converted to join the masses of Twi-hards. Out of all the Babblers, I am probably the most vulnerable to teen love movies, but not this time. This felt more like a 90 minute visualization of a fantasy rather than something substantial deserving it’s cult following.
Listen to our podcast on New Moon and the Twilight phenomenon
You can read my review of Twilight Saga New Moon here: