A couple of years ago, I visited a friend who was (and still is, as far as I know) madly in love with Edward Cullen and the whole series of Twilight books. My interest level was only so-so. On one hand, I’d heard that they were pretty damn sappy, soggy, even, dripping with adolescent angst and endless eye-fucking. On the other hand, I had a whole section of vampire books back at home, and I was always the Creative Writing student sitting quietly in class, wondering if I should defend my love of Stephen King or not to the rest of the oh-so-serious bibliophiles. In other words, I read to be entertained. I like a lot of popular books. I figured Twilight might actually make for a pretty decent guilty pleasure.
With this in mind, I promised Heather I’d read the book sometime that year, and in return, she promised me that I would fall in love with Edward Cullen.
Well, I didn’t. Fall in love, that is. Edward is not exactly my idea of blood-hungry hot stuff. Spike (from BTVS) is hot stuff. Angel . . . well, Angelus, really . . . is hot stuff. Edward? Edward’s a whiny, humorless, pretty boy bitch, and his melted-golden-perfect-passionate-liquid-topaz-magical eyes are written about so often that if you took a shot every time Bella’s heart swelled at the sight of them, you would die of alcohol poisoning by page seven. The book’s an easy enough read, but I was so sick of Edward’s perfect face and Bella’s general idiocy that by the time I was through with Twilight, I could have vomited blood.
So, no, Twilight the film wasn’t high on my list of things to watch. But recently my sister caught part of the movie on HBO, and she was bound and determined to watch it with me, in order for us to better feast upon the sweet, sweet nectar that is otherwise known as callous mockery. Mekaela and I both take mockery quite seriously, you see. The idea of watching Twilight grew on me, and eventually we rented it on Netflix. We popped it in the DVD player and settled back for an evening of fiendish and mean-spirited delight.
Sadly, Twilight wasn’t so much ridiculous and melodramatic and awesomely horrible as it was . . . awkward. Just awkward.
Of course, every self-respecting film geek in the entire universe hates Twilight. How could you ever show your face again in public if they knew that deep, deep under that mask of Star Wars references and Tarantino worship there lay a Robert Pattinson fangirl hidden, waiting to get out. You could never go to a convention again. Your geek friends would mock you mercilessly, teasing you about what team you’re on and demanding that vampires don’t . . . fucking . . . sparkle!
Film geeks have to hate Twilight. It’s a matter of pride and physical safety.
But I . . . did not hate Twilight. I didn’t. I didn’t much like it; I wouldn’t call it a good movie, but . . . I gotta say, I was expecting worse. And for every constipated-I’m-having-an-emotion-or-possibly-a-bowel-movement-I-can’t-decide-which face that Pattinson makes, there’s another moment just owned by one of the many side characters who were totally awesome in this film. All in all, I graded this movie a pretty solid C. Since I’ve inevitably betrayed my own film geek kind by not automatically grading it an F, and since I didn’t grade it an A+++ like every teenage girl who wants to become a glittery vampire and have glittery vampire babies, I’m calling this review on Twilight a blasphemy. Cause, really, who’s middle ground on this shit but me?
Here are some random notes for your amusement/enjoyment/disbelief, etc.
1. Because I watch and review a decent amount of horror movies here, I feel the need to clarify this: Twilight is not a horror movie. Horror is not to be found in this film. In fact, horror wants nothing to do with these silly ass vampires and their silly ass melodrama. Twilight is nothing more than a paranormal, tween romance that, somehow, has become a phenomenon with more cult power than Jesus or John Lennon. The presence of vampires in a story does not make it horror, anymore than the presence of god-fearin’ Christians at a lynching makes the event all right with God.
2. Before I get into the awful-funny stuff, I need to give credit where credit is due: most of the supporting cast in Twilight just rocked this film. In fact, I liked a few of them so much that they now get their own random, sub-notes:
2A. Billy Burke (as Bella’s father Charlie Swan) is beyond awesome. He’s that sorta-gruff, mild-mannered, quiet guy who’s trying to relate to his daughter when he clearly doesn’t have the slightest idea how one even talks to a teenage girl . . . and he never freaks out, or acts like a moron and exacerbates the situation by telling Bella that she can’t see boys ever again. He’s funny and sweet and kind of adorable, and I’m pretty sure that Bella doesn’t deserve him at all.
Best Moment: Edward wants to introduce himself properly to Bella’s father. Bella tells Charlie this. Charlie says, “All right,” picks up his huge ass gun, cocks his huge ass gun, and says, “Send him in.” Hee.
2B. Anna Kendrick (as Bella’s friend Jessica) is just a shiny, consistent spot of levity throughout the whole film. She steals every scene that she’s in as this surprisingly realistic representation of a perky teenage girl who really doesn’t think about much more than her date to prom. It’s not that she’s stupid, and it’s not that she’s an evil, sociopathic bitch. It’s just that she’s like a lot of teenage girls, self-absorbed and silly but in a nice enough way. Jessica’s a fun and much needed contrast to oh-so-dour Bella.
Best Moment: When Bella tells Jessica how good she and Mike are together (Bella’s the one who told Mike to ask Jessica out) Jessica’s just cheerful and oblivious: “I know, right?”
2C: Michael Welch (as jock/potential suitor Mike Newton) and Justin Chon (as more geeky potential suitor Eric Yorkie) also tend to steal scenes that they’re in. While I never really understand this instant LOVE they both have for Bella (I mean, they’re practically jumping the girl before she’s on the fucking campus; plus, what does she really do besides sit at various tables, moping out the window? Honestly, Mike and Eric had more chemistry together than anyone else in the movie) they aren’t so irritating and pitiful about it as they are in the book, and that made for a refreshing change. Mike and Eric certainly aren’t the brightest kids on the block, but they seem like they’d be fun to hang with, and I liked them for general enthusiasm for everything. Michael Welch, in particular, was a lot of fun to watch, because he’s a pretty decent young actor who probably doesn’t get the chance to break out of his geek typecast very often.
Best Moment: I’m just focusing on Mike for now: when he comes up to Bella and says, “So you and Cullen . . . I don’t like it.” It’s all in the delivery. You want to pat him on the head.
2D: Taylor Lautner (as Jacob, a young Indian-from-the-res, Bella’s childhood playmate, not-yet-revealed-werewolf, and yet ANOTHER potential suitor to Bella) shocked me the most here, because he was . . . well, he was funny. (Notice the trend here, Twilight directors? Your intentionally humorous roles are the things I’m going to some lengths to praise. The unintentionally humorous roles . . . well, we’ll get to that, but let me give you a hint: not so stellar.)
Anyway, I expected Taylor Lautner to pop up a few times, say cryptic things to Bella, and shoot dark, pouty glances at Edward. Instead, he popped up a few times, said cryptic yet amusing things to Bella, and shot dark, pouty glances at Edward . . . so better than it could have been. Honestly, Jacob was kind of sweet and funny, and he’s clearly a much better liar than Edward. You know this, because when Bella interrogates Jacob about why the Black family hates the Cullens, he downplays the whole werewolf versus vampire thing as some old, silly legend. Whereas, when Bella notes to Edward that his eyes change colors mysteriously, he stares at her, pained, and gives a half-hearted explanation before abruptly walking off in the other direction without finishing his fucking sentence. Like, okay, Edward. Way to play it cool. Asshole.
Best Moment: When Billy Black absolutely mortifies his son by telling Bella that Jacob desperately wanted to go see her, Jacob’s just like, “Thanks, Dad. Nice.” It’s cute and amusing.
2E: Last, but not least, is Jose Zuniga as the Science Teacher. I honestly don’t even remember his name. He’s so not an important part, but . . . he just shines through for some reason. I don’t know. The only thing I’ve ever really seen this guy on before is CSI, and of course there he’s just the intimidating-looking cop . . . to see him here as this funny, nerdy science teacher who completely reminds me of almost every science teacher I’ve ever had . . . he was just kind of perfect, and I enjoyed every scene that featured him.
Best Moment: Honestly, I can’t remember a specific moment. He was just generally awesome.
3. All right, finally. No more awesome supporting cast to discuss. Let me move on to the, cough, power couple, cough, of the film: Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. Let’s deal with Bella first.
Kristen Stewart as Bella is . . . not good. I won’t argue that she is, and I actually like Kristen Stewart in some things, despite how miserable she looks all the damn time. I think she’s good in Adventureland, and I liked her as a kid in Panic Room. I can’t help but feel that there’s potential in Kristen Stewart, and that she’ll make a decent actress someday if she can break away from sullen girl roles she’s doing now.
That being said, that voiceover, man . . . that was a bullshit voiceover. That was nails on a chalkboard bad. Almost her entire role in that movie was sitting on a bed, looking around in a forlorn manner as her disembodied voice helpfully told us how alone she felt. Bella also has some stellar moments of what we might refer to as “special logic.” For instance, after Edward saves Bella from being hit and crushed to death by a gigantic van, he is even more withdrawn and taciturn than usual, prompting Bella to whine, “”Why didn’t you let the van crush me and save yourself the regret?” Like, seriously, Bella? Really? Way to be melodramatic and wrong as usual.
But while Bella’s still kind of an asshole at times in the movie (she pretends to be interested in dress-shopping with her friends when she’s really just using them to go find information about Edward in a bookstore, and what? Is this supposed to make her deep?) she’s nowhere near as bad as she is in the book. She doesn’t treat Mike and Eric nearly as bad as I thought she would, and while she still doesn’t deserve Charlie, she could have been much, much worse. Kristen Stewart also has a couple of moments that I honest-to-God kind of liked. There are, surprisingly, a few good lines here. The best ones:
Bella: How old are you?
Broody Eddy: Seventeen.
Bella: How long have you been seventeen?
Bella: Did you follow me?
Stalker Eddy: I feel very protective of you.
Bella: . . . so you were following me?
So, Stewart’s not really good overall, but she had some decent moments that didn’t make her utterly useless.
4. Robert Pattinson, on the other hand, has no decent moments. This is Edward’s intense face:
You know you’re terrified just looking at him.
Edward’s a gloomy, ridiculous little thing who wears too much damn makeup and whines incessantly. (“This is the skin of a killer, Bella!”) As far as I can tell, he’s got nothing to bitch about it. He gets to be pretty for all eternity. His family cares enough about him to deal with his girlfriend. The sun doesn’t burn him; it makes him sparkle. He’s strong, fast, and can read people’s thoughts. Yeah, big curse there, jackass.
The way Edward carries on, though, you’d think that someone was taking a flamethrower to his privates. He’s just . . . so . . . tortured. We know this, because he plays the piano beautifully. Oh, Edward, you soulful bastard. Of course you play the fucking piano.
There’s this scene that should work—emphasis on the should—between Edward and Bella in the middle of the movie. He’s just swooped in to save her from Washington’s inner city lowlifes, and he tries for this pained laughter thing, like he’s slowly going insane. It should work, and I should love it because I get serious mad crushes on male movie characters who throw out the crazy laugh . . . but it doesn’t, I think, because Robert Pattinson just can’t act. When he tries for tragic, he comes off constipated. When he tries for cutesy, he comes off weird. And when he and Kristen Stewart try for romantic . . .
5 . . . my GOD, are they awkward. These two are dating in real life, aren’t they? Shouldn’t they have, you know, chemistry? The scene between them in the biology lab is the longest, most tedious thing ever. The pauses between every sentence, the slow, deliberate way they talk . . . I feel like maybe Catherine Hardwicke was trying for almost an indie feel to her movie. You know? I think maybe these scenes are meant to focus on those strange aspects of adolescence and the complicated, awkward relationships that form in high school. Unfortunately, Twilight wasn’t meant to be a Focus Features kind of film, and the end result is just, well, stilted. Everything in this movie feels stilted and slow and kind of painful. I was expecting over-the-top carpet-chewing and punching the walls while sobbing. Instead, I got . . . . blaaaaaaaaaaaaaah.
6. Also, I was kind of disappointed by Edward’s diamond-shiny killer skin. I mean, this was the moment . . . . this was THE SPARKLE . . . and it was just kind of vaguely defined crystal scaley bullshit. I wanted, like, angel shimmer. I wanted to be blown away by the sheer magnificence of his glowing, celestial beauty! This was totally not worth the wait, and I kind of want my two bucks back.
7. However, the best pick up line ever: “You’re like my own personal brand of heroine.” Gotta steal that one.
7. The kid who plays Jasper (Jackson Rathbourne) may actually be slightest worse than Edward. I mean, not like he has any real lines or anything. Just, this is his “I’m-holding-back-the-need-to-feed-on-your-face” face:
Compare it with Edward’s and let me know which you think would leave you giggling harder into the night. (Admittedly, his hair isn’t helping matters any. What is this, the love child of white boy fro and Justin Timberlake’s hair from N’Sync?)
8. And, hey, while we’re speaking of giggling . . . oh, Facinelli. What have you let them do to you? Facinelli plays Daddy Vamp Dr. Cullen, and he is just really not meant to be a bleach blonde. More importantly, however, his makeup is just PANCAKED on his face. He looks like that creepy guy from Hellboy 2, only, you know, a little more stupid? It’s quite sad, really.
9. The vampire baseball scene was actually kind of fun, I’ll admit, with Muse screaming in the background and the Cullens performing their little vampire antics. Of course, then the bad guys stroll in, and Edward goes back to intense face and ruins everything by, you know, acting like Edward. Have I mentioned he’s an asshat?
10. In case any young men are reading this blog, let me give you a little piece of advice: girls are not enthralled by their boyfriends sneaking into their homes and watching them sleep. Girls don’t find that sexy and adorable. Girls find that FUCKING CREEPY. That’s unhealthy obsession, sweetheart. That’s called “restraining order time.”
11. Bella’s frantic (and paraphrased), “Okay, but you can’t leave me; you can’t leave me, okay?” speech? I actually don’t think it’s too badly acted, and in another movie, it might work, but here . . . here, it doesn’t work. At all. I never once bought into Bella and Edward’s instant LUV connection, and her sudden, overwhelming need for him? It’s not really backed up in the movie. The only way this scene works is as a means to epitomize Bella as the poster child for co-dependency. This is why you don’t look to Hollywood for role models for your teenage children.
12. Finally, when you suspect that the guy you’ve been flirting with all film might, in fact, be a dangerous vampire, the proper response, JACKASS, is to NOT go out to the woods by yourself, allowing him to follow you.
Bella: Poster Child for Co-Dependency AND the Darwin Awards.
Ultimate Grade: C
Likelihood of Watching the Sequels: Seriously Fucking Slim.