Like I mentioned before, I went to the midnight screening of Twilight on Thursday night and, being my first, I really had no idea what to expect. Would people dress up like vampires to commemorate Edward and the rest of the Cullen clan? Would the audience break out into random applause at the stupidest points in the movie like in my screening of Sex and the City: The Movie? Would the teenage girls, which composed up to 97% of the audience, freak the fuck out when "heartthrob" Robert Pattinson appeared on screen? To answer the questions: No (although there were these weird girls who put on fake blood and somehow got plastic vampire teeth to stick their neck), Kinda (instead of applauding, they laughed...more on that later) and Hell to the Yes (but this shouldn't surprise you). The experience was a bit disorienting and might have taken away from the film (I think I'm going to see it again in a couple of weeks once the hysteria has died down) so instead of a regular review, here's what I over heard the random girl sitting next to me muttering to her friend all throughout the movie, followed by my commentary.
"That's not Bella's voice." This was uttered right at the get go during Bella's (Kristen Stewart) opening monologue. I realize that this girl probably read the book 10 times before a film version was announced- I knew Stewart was in it by the time I read it so I simply imagined her in the role right away- and that she had her own idea of what Bella looked and sounded like, but give Kristen Stewart a chance before you tear her down! You have to let go of all of your broad preconceived notions about what the characters should "sound" like when you're going into a film like Twilight.
"She's so awkward!" Once again, this was directed at Kristen Stewart during one of her scenes with her father (Billy Burke, who's actually quite impressive- his scenes with Stewart actually felt more genuine than 90% of the ones between Stewart and Pattinson). At this point, I wanted to shake the girl and tell her, "Haven't you read the book? That's the point!" Bella is a shy, detached loner who doesn't feel the need to talk a lot- not exactly the most comfortable person to be around. You have to chalk it up to Stewart's immense talent that Bella is realized on-screen this uncompromisingly. With her quivering voice, nervous tics and emotions bubbling up ever so delicately on her silent movie star face, Stewart's intensely introverted performance is a sight to behold, a thing of true and relentless beauty. When she finally discovers what Edward really is and they are finally able to admit their feelings toward each other, there's a moment where the pair lie on the ground, just staring into each others eyes: the look Stewart emits from her eyes and face is absolutely mesmerizing and something I can't get out of my head a couple of days later. It's easy to understand why the teens don't like her- she way too subtle for them- but whenever she's on screen, it doesn't matter this film is a complete mess at times, her performance totally transfixes you in ways that no drama aimed at the teen demographic ever has.
*Gasp* This sound, of course, was uttered when Robert Pattinson first appears on-screen. I wasn't too surprised, considering all of the stories I had been hearing for the past week concerning girls asking Pattinson to bite them at public appearances. Let me just mention that I wasn't one of the many gasping at Pattinson- he still had a lot more to prove to me than just show up looking pretty do-able. Unfortunately, he never proved that he was the least bit competent in this role. The scene after we first see him is when Edward and Bella are sitting next to each other in Biology class for the first time. Edward is supposed to be greatly uncomfortable and totally freak the fuck out of Bella, prompting her to think that something is wrong with her. In Pattinson's hands, however, Edward practically has a seizure while dry heaving into his hands and then staring at Bella like the creepiest stalker imaginable. The audience was laughing all throughout this scene, but I don't think that this was Hardwicke's intention; we're generally supposed to be slightly creeped out by Edward at this point, not laughing at him like a silly clown. Throughout the rest of the film, Pattinson never gets any better, matching Kristen Stewart's fantastic facial expressions with dumb gazes worthy of Chace Crawford and often butchering simple lines to the point of madness. He's so bad at times it makes you wonder what exactly Catherine Hardwicke was thinking by hiring him for this film and how much better this film could have been with a much better Edward. I know I've already pimped out Gaspard Ulliel, and he would be absolutely perfect, but also imagine what Penn Badgley, Ed Westwick, Gregoire Leprince-Ringuet, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (although he may be a tad old) or Elijah Kelley might have done with Edward and then tell me you don't mourn what this film could have been.
"That's not even funny." The audience I was with was completely retarded and laughed every two minutes, often at the stupidest parts. Anytime a line of dialogue that was supposed to play on the fact that "Haha, Edward's a vampire, get it?" was uttered, the audience roared with laughter like it was the funniest thing ever said in the history of comedy.
"'Hold on, my spider monkey'? Who says that?" A-greed. That was a horrible line. And I don't remember it in the book, so you can't even blame Stephenie Meyer.
"This sucks, I'm about ready to leave." I don't remember at what point she said this, but it was getting towards the point where I was just as frustrated at this film. The book was so perfect for a film adaptation (overlong and repetitive, therefore capable of handling a large number of cuts) but it got messed up in the translation somewhere. At times, I wish there was more of the Edward/Bella relationship going on but at others I just want them to stop staring at each other and do something. I don't know, the whole experience left me very conflicted; I know there are problems with the film but I'm at a loss as to what needed to be fixed. The film is shot a lot in either close up or extreme close up, creating an intensely intimate atmosphere that mirrors the relationship between Edward and Bella, and I applaud Hardwicke for taking such an unneccessary stylistic chance in such a crowd-pleasing film, but it really gets in the way some of the time. First of all, it does Robert Pattinson no favors and secondly, it provokes unintentional laughter in some of the scenes. When the band of bad vampires show up to the Cullen family baseball game, the constant cutting between extreme close ups of Edward's and James' (Cam Gigandet) eyes and the members of each group ready to pounce on each other like that cafeteria scene in Mean Girls where the kids turn into wild animals was hilarious, but for all of the wrong reasons.
"This movie was great!" Yes, by the time everyone was filing out of the theatre, the girl next to me literally said this to one of her friends (At this point, I was telling my friend something to the effect of, "Let's get out of here and away from these crazy superfans before we discuss what the hell went wrong"). I'm not exactly sure what provoked such a drastic change- I know by the end everything had found a good groove and even Pattinson wasn't getting on my nerves as much, but it was by no means a "film-saving" ending. Twilight is not a great film by any means- hell, it's hardly a good film- but it's certainly not the disaster it could have been with a less competent director and more generic, less specific leading lady. At the very least, I guess we can be thankful that it wasn't turned into something drastically different from the book and rendered totally unrecognizable. That would have been an even great tragedy. C
Many thanks to the random teenage girl sitting next to me for providing the inspiration needed to write this review!