Review: Twilight Movie Made For the Fans Alone

"Without the supplemental material from the book, this film feels very silly."


The concepts presented by Twilight, both the movie and the book, are eternal. That dynamic first love, obsession, jealousy, possessiveness, vulnerability, and an unwavering mutual attraction: these are the components that elevate Twilight, though, of course, it shares them with a few-hundred years of literary tradition. Unfortunately, Twilight the film offers very little in the way of great filmmaking to compliment the book. Instead, it delivers exactly and precisely what the fans wanted. This was probably a good move for everyone's personal safety, but a bad move if the goal was to make a movie that would have broad appeal.

I would say the two main issues the film has are:

1. Tone

2. Pacing

We'll start with problem one. The tone of the film is most decidedly "teengirlriffic." Every emotion is overplayed and overstated, every scene drips with an immature melodrama. Both Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are guilty throughout this of rushing the moments, with Stewart, in particular, trying to convey a few dozen emotions with each word of dialogue. Nothing is done in the movie without an overriding arc of awkwardness. I get that the teen years are dramatic, and that every interaction is heightened by the newness of the situation. But as an audience member it's impossible to keep up that level of mania. Far easier to roll the eyes and disconnect.

As far as pacing goes, the book is better, no shock there. From the first moment Edward and Bella meet the movie has them madly in love. The book did a much better job with the conflict of the matter (potentially getting eaten). The movie version offers no real tension at all, besides with the villain. It's as though the movie has taken for granted that these two are going to be together and doesn't really need to show it. Director Catherine Hardwicke was intent on providing a visual treat, but she left the actual story out of the equation. In fact, and even worse, she's made the point of this movie James. By putting the "danger" aspect throughout the film she's completely cribbed the tension between Edward and Bella -- a tension that is the absolute crux of the story. That's a shame.

Could Twilight have been a good movie? Yes. Unequivocally. The movie has some really nice moments, moments where Hardwicke deviated completely from the book and used her own creativity. The stylized end credits are cool. The sepia-infused dream sequences have merit. And Pattinson and Stewart probably could have produced real acting if they were given half a chance. They weren't.

For me the story of Twilight is all about that balance between obsession and actual mature love. When you're first in love you lose all sense of context and are completely drawn into another person. The movie doesn't get any of that though, the only story here seems to be "We love the fans!" The amazing noise drummed up by everyone probably caused this film to lose its way, burying it somewhere between the 25th autograph session and the latest blog post from the Twi-Hards. So while the fans got exactly what they wanted, they won't be getting others to jump on this bandwagon. Without the supplemental material from the book, this film feels very silly.

Perhaps this little experience can teach us (and Summit) the real lesson of Stephenie Meyer. Despite our best efforts, sometimes we hurt the ones we love. Sometimes we're incapable of telling people what they need to hear, preferring to tell them instead what they want to hear. My hope is that the sequels are actual attempts at movies. The world doesn't need any more toothless cinema.

Grade: C-