Twilight stunned box office analysts by having a gigantic opening weekend. That is a testament to the many rabid fans of Stephenie Meyer’s wildly successful teen vampire romance franchise. Its second weekend saw Twilight‘s box office numbers sink faster than… hell, I don’t know. Something that sinks fast.
I’d come up with a great simile or metaphor there, but I think Twilight gave me brain damage. I think if I had spent two hours huffing paint thinner in the freezing cold parking lot of the movie theater, I would have been better off. My head would hurt less, and I wouldn’t want to burn down the closest library. Everyone says the books are great, but anything would be better than this movie.
Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) is the new girl in town. Of course, since she’s moving from Arizona to tiny Forks, Washington, she’s going to be the center of attention for the entire town. This happens a lot in small towns, apparently. She catches the attention of an odd collection of multiracial locals, instantly finds a group of new friends, and catches the eye of Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson) and his family of adopted kids who have, apparently, paired off in spiritually incestuous couples who use entirely too much product in their hair and wear unisex lipstick. Save poor, lonely Edward.
Of course, the two fall instantly and hopelessly in love. Bella because Edward is so sparkly and dangerous, and Edward because Bella reminds him of heroin. Meanwhile, there have been some unexplained animal attacks in town that are actually vampire killings, and this means that Bella is going to be in a mild level of peril at some point thanks to her association with the man-leech Cullen family.
This movie has so many faults on a basic level that I don’t even know where to begin. Let’s start with the acting, then work our way down the list of terrible things about the film. Kristen Stewart, who looks like Jodie Foster’s daughter without Jodie Foster’s acting ability, has two facial expressions: confused and confused angry. Robert Pattinson at least tries to deliver his lines with some conviction, but he doesn’t have a lot to work with. Fortunately for him, he was just hired to look pretty and be angsty. Unfortunately for him, he’s also got a fight scene.
Everyone else either gets little to no screen time or has one thing their character does the entire time; for example, Nikki Reed’s Rosalie is only supposed to be jealous of Bella. That’s what she does throughout the entire movie. To say the characters in this film are two dimensional is to viciously slander cardboard cutouts. This movie is all about plain-ass everygirl Bella and her dreamy sparkle motion corpseboy Edward. In this movie, plain people are always incredibly boring, while everyone else in town is either “quirky and fun” or a vampire.
Yes, I get that she’s the new girl in town and she’s supposed to be awkward around her new bloodthirsty friends, but every. Single. Line. Has. Too. Much. Hesitation. Teenagers are awkward, but nobody is this constantly awkward in real life. This is a fetishistic level of discomfort. Masochists don’t enjoy being uncomfortable this much.
The script, by veteran TV producer/writer Melissa Rosenberg, is chock full of some of the most groan-inducing, trite dialog I’ve ever heard outside of such great films as Ice Spiders and Dinocroc. This is a bad TV soap opera, except entirely too predictable and unintentionally funny. This movie deserves the Mystery Science Theater 3000/Rifftrax treatment; when my bad joke line turns out to be the next line that comes out of the actor’s mouth (verbatim AND with the same delivery), that’s probably not good.
Catherine Hardwicke has done some good film work in her time. After all, she helmed the controversial Thirteen and has done production design work on very visually interesting movies, like Tombstone, Tank Girl, and Vanilla Sky. Twilight has been a huge success and will keep her working for years to come, but it’s not exactly the sort of movie that shows off any directing skills. The camera work in this film is consistently awful. Jiggling the camera like a bowl full of gelatin in an earthquake does not create tension, it just causes headaches.
Hardwicke manages to transform what should have been the best part of the movie, a fight scene between two preternatural monsters, into the weakest part of the movie, thanks to bad pacing, poor editing, and horrendous special effects. This is a movie that makes having magic powers look boring and makes super speed look impossibly lame. A fight to the death looks about as harrowing and suspenseful as a trip to Grandmother’s house for tea and a nap.
The one thing the film does well is capture the gray and green overcast nature of the Pacific Northwest. You can easily see why Seattle has a very high suicide rate. The forest that serves as the setting for most of the film is very lovely, then the actors start doing things and ruin it. At least they only cast a few 20-something high school students for once.
If you’re a fan of the Twilight series, or if you’ve never seen any other romance movies in your life, you might like this film. This is unflavored cinema oatmeal; bland, predictable, and mushy. If you like being dragged from Point A to Point B by your ear without ever having to pay attention to the movie, this is the film for you. If you don’t care about actors working their craft or decent writing, have bad taste, love awful romance movies, or suffer from recent head trauma, then Twilight is the movie for you!
US correspondent Ron Hogan is very well aware that vampires, as awesome machines of destruction, have been effectively emasculated by movies like this. Find more by Ron at his blog, Subtle Bluntness , and daily at Shaktronics and PopFi.