Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Wednesday Reboot: Twilight

On November 18th, Breaking Dawn will be released and the Fangs for the Fantasy crew thought it might be a good idea to review the series as a refresher.  This is actually a difficult undertaking, because so much has already been written about this series, but we will attempt to make it as fresh as possible.

For those who are unfamiliar with Twilight, I will simply say that it involves Bella Swan moving from Arizona to Forks, where she meets and falls in love with Edward Cullen.  Edward is a vampire, but he differs from other of his kind, because he survives solely on the blood of animals. The movie is largely based around their romance.

The Twilight juggernaut is aimed solely at a YA market, but it has managed to capture the imagination of adults. Bella Swan is written to be virtually a blank character, with the sole purpose of being easily identifiable, so that anyone reading the story or watching the movie, can picture themselves in her role. Unfortunately, this decision also means that she is easy to manipulate.  Edward tells her that she is like his "own personal brand of heroin" and that he has never thirsted so much for a humans blood, yet her response is that she is not afraid.  Bella continues with this position, even when he tells her that he is a monster and a murderer. 

Who doesn't run screaming at that kind of admission?  To be clear, we all have skeletons, but the idea that murder is just one of those things that is excusable, because we are dealing with a supernatural being is ridiculous.  Where are Bella's survival instincts? Instead of worrying that she could be in danger, when she meets Edward's family, she is more concerned that they won't like her.  Bella is so blank, that she might as well be as supernatural as Edward because she hardly reads as human.

Edward is that creepy stalker guy that most women want to avoid.  Charlie's behaviour towards him is almost threatening at times, but it really is cliche. Come on, cleaning his gun before meeting his daughters boyfriend.  Edward has given Charlie no reason to distrust him, and it reads more like Charlie is protecting his daughter from predatory teenage hormones. Yep, gotta keep the family vagina pure. This of course distracts from the point that Edward really and truly is dangerous. He stares at Bella like he wants to consume her continually, and he sneaks into her bedroom at night to watch her sleep.  None of this is romantic, and in fact falls into the category of needing a restraining order.  Edward is obsessed, rather than in love, and I think this point is ignored in much of this series.

Catherine Hardwicke, who directed this film, attempted to match the source material as much as possible.  This means that if you were already familiar with the book before seeing the movie, the film offered the viewer nothing new at all. It felt as though she didn't want to take risks with the story. I understand that at the time Twilight the movie was made, that the story already had a slew of fans, but that certainly does not mean that the source material was perfect - in fact, it was far from perfect. Hardwicke lost the opportunity to infuse Bella with a personality, and reduce Edward's creepy stalking behaviour.

I enjoyed the panoramic view of the scenery, and could see how it would potentially serve as an appropriate backdrop for a romance, though abuse is more what the relationship between Bella and Edward is all about. Perhaps, that is why that though the chemistry between Pattinson and Stewart was good, it was difficult to believe that they were moving into a true relationship.  Hardwicke could have done the viewer a favor by instructing Pattinson to just give up on his over the top glances at Stewart. We were treated to a few scenes of Bella and Edward hanging out as teenagers do, and then zmog true love for evah.  If we have to embrace the idea that Bella is madly in love with Edward, despite the fact that his behaviour should have her running way, then Hardwicke should have given us more reason to believe and invest in this relationship.

Twilight may have done well at the box office, but there is a reason that this film did not win any major awards.  The acting was comical, even at time when it was meant to be scary, and who can really take a guy wearing a big bouffant hairdo seriously anyway?  At best, Twilight was just okay.